Botanist launches new spring menu and introduces new head chef Timo Vogel

While many of the Sydney foodie crowd were at the Coogee Pavilion celebrating the launch of Good Food Month on Tuesday 30 September 2014, a select group of 60 media and celebrities went to Kirribilli’s first small bar and restaurant, The Botanist, for an intimate VIP dinner to launch its spring menu and introduce new head chef Timo Vogel.

Timo has worked in restaurants around the world, and his most recent tenure was at Garfish Seafood Kirribilli. Timo created the new menu to reflect the start of the warmer season, and last night showcased grazing plates expertly paired with matching wines provided by Young & Rashleigh at a relaxed three course dinner. Upon arrival guest were treated to a chilled glass of Villa Sandi Prosecco Veneto from Italy, then after mingling at the bar they were seated for a delicious three courses matched with wine, and dessert to finish.

For entrées they served two dishes: grilled halloumi with honey quinoa; and beetroot cured salmon with avocado. These dishes were matched with Astrolabe Province Pinot Gris from Marlborough. For mains, the two dishes served were seared kingfish with pea puree, fennel & aniseed, and roasted lamb rump on toasted couscous & ratatouille. These dishes were accompanied by Teusner The Family Shiraz, from Barossa. Dessert was a delightful bouquet from The Botanist garden, including lemon curd, sponge cake, chocolate soil & herbs served in a flower pot.

Celebrities who attended the event included Scott Gooding, Tiffany Farrington, Justine Schofield and Arrnott Olssen.

The restaurant’s name references illustrious Botanist Gerard Fothergill who travelled the world researching plants, and whose last years of his life were spent running a small book shop in the very building the restaurant now occupies. The Botanist pays homage to these historical and botanical themes of exploration and discovery, creating food and cocktail menus using abundant offerings of fresh produce, herbs and spices.

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Topshop and Topman launches spring racewear collection

Topshop and Topman launched its first every racewear collection on Wednesday 24 September 2014.

The event featured an interview with Kate Waterhouse, daughter of horse trainer Gai Waterhouse. She answered questions about her family’s racing history, her fashion career and her interest in racing fashion. She advised the audience on how to dress for the various days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the dos and don’ts of racewear.

She showed the audience (who sat in stools in front of her) a number of race looks she liked for both men and women. My favourite was the dress that Kate Waterhouse was wearing.

Guests were served Seppelt Salinger Vintage Cuvee 2009, Asahi beer, Voss water and treats from Nectarstone. Reelax played the DJ tunes while guests got to shop for their new racewear look. Everyone who purchased something got a wreath of flowers for their hair and a goodie bag.

Topshop may not be a high end luxury fashion label but on 2 October 2012 jockey Chantelle Buckley won $15,000 on the Fashion on the Field competition sponsored by the Iconic at Rosehill Gardens and she was wearing a Topshop dress purchase from Las Vegas that had been lengthened at the bottom with another piece of fabric by her mother. This just goes to show, you can do quite well for less.

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Tluxe launches its flagship store in Paddington, Sydney

On Thursday 18 September 2014, Tluxe fashion label launched its flagship store at Shop 5 168 Oxford Street Paddington.

Founded by English-born, Sydney-based designer Rebecca Powell in 2006, the label derives its name from a fusion of the words deluxe and Tee, applying the concept to each limited edition collection with immaculate craftsmanship and innovative design.

With a Diploma in Fine Arts and Design and an Honours Degree in Textiles and Fashion, Powell was inspired to create an Australian-made label dedicated to luxurious basics, having previously designed for Selfridges, Top Shop and Stirling Cooper in the United Kingdom as well as quintessential Australian brands Bonds and Mambo.

Handcrafted by highly skilled artisans in Australia, Tluxe’s collections are created using the finest organic and sustainable yarns including bamboo, cotton, cashmere silk and Merino wool, ethically sourced from Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Japan and Turkey, resulting in thoughtful pieces that withstand the test of time.

Inspiring guilt free luxury with its custom-knit fabrics, each collection comprises an exclusive colour palette in seasonal colours with a classic print, paired with a range of monochromatic luxe staples that have featured since the label’s inception.

Tluxe’s has a loyal fan base Australia-wide including celebrities Miranda Kerr, Jennifer Hawkins and Jessica Mauboy.

Tluxe’s collections are also available online at the labels e-boutique, as well as through selected stockists in Australia and internationally. Visit www.tluxe.com for more information.

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The Fashion Luncheon (featuring spring racewear and millinery)

I was very excited to attend this ladies luncheon event on Sunday 14 September 2014 at the 5 star Shangri-La Hotel. Not only did it have great views of Sydney Harbour, great food from the hated Altitude Restaurant, millinery on display from the best milliners in NSW and racing fashion from Mackenzie Mode, but my photo was on the invitation of this sold out event.

This event was organised by the queen of racing fashion events, Sharon Lenton, from Thoroughbred Events Australia. She organises two of these ladies luncheons a year: one for spring and the other for autumn. She also runs fashion on the field competitions at country race clubs in NSW.

The event included a two course lunch, a fashion parade with matching millinery, an opportunity to purchase an outfit with matching millinery (or the millinery or clothes separately), an art exhibition by Lysandra, a speech by Clare Hawkes, raffle prizes, and a best dressed competition judged by Christopher Haggarty. The event was MCed by Jamie Rodgers from the TAB.

The highlight of the event was the fashion parade with clothes from Mackenzie Mode. I was impressed with the fashion of MacKenzie Mode. The vibrant colours in her outfits were very appropriate for spring racing. The collection looked very Peter Pilotto, Clover Canyon, and Mary Kantratzou. Canadian born designer Emily MacKenzie lives in Coogee and has a store there. However, she sells clothes all over the world. In the United States, her direct competitor is Clover Canyon. She sat at our table and told me that what I saw in the fashion parade was a very small portion of what she sells. She has other collections including swimwear, casual clothing, coats and her own headpieces.

Clare Hawkes, the 2004 Spring Racing Ambassador, is the daughter of pioneer female jockey, Linda Jones and New Zealand trainer, Alan Jones, Clare is married to Michael Hawkes, the youngest son of Australian Racing Hall of Fame inductee, trainer John Hawkes who trained the 2014 Golden Slipper winner Mossfun (among many other winners). She gave a very humble speech about her experiences growing up with her famous mother (where she thought it was normal for people to have reporters visit their house).

Editor of Men’s Style Report Christopher Haggarty judged the best dressed competition. Alla Dimech won best dressed and former Fox Sports presenter and current Channel Seven producer Christy Johns was runner up. Clare Hawkes got a special mention for her racing attire and was presented with flowers.

The women who attend these events hold off from buying any outfits or millinery beforehand. The general feeling is that you do not want to waste your money buying an outfit when you could find something much better at this events. Then when you arrive at the event, you rush around looking at all the millinery and purchase the best piece before anyone else can. Of course the milliner can take special orders, but you have to wait for it to be made and that could take some time if the milliner has many orders. Some women purchase one headpiece but others purchase many. One lady and daughter team left laughing. They told me that they purchased six hats from milliner Cynthia Jones Bryson and many others from other milliners.

Milliners that were displaying and selling their headpieces included milliner to the stars Neil Grigg, milliner to the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce Cynthia Jones Bryson (who is also the milliner of my blue headpiece), Carmel Butler, Bev Gunn, Kathleen Watson, Deb Parish, Kerry McGlone and Julie Lynch.

Sponsors included TAB, Sky Racing, Barbara Wenman from La Fleur D’Alyse, Blue Pyrenees, MacKenzie Mode and Lysandra.

If anyone is interested in buying any of the outfits, please contact Thoroughbred Events Australia and they will direct you to the milliner and designer of the outfit you liked.

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Chandon Sparkling Hours at Cafe Del Mar Sydney

Mediterranean iconic hotspot Café Del Mar Sydney located at Cockle Bay Wharf is the perfect backdrop to enjoy Australia’s favourite sparkling, Chandon. Patrons can watch the sunset, listen to chill out tunes and sip away in pure contentment. I got my first hand experience of this on Thursday 11 September 2014 for the launch of Chandon Sparkling Hours.

DJ Deptune played the tunes while Sydney’s glamour crowd enjoyed the ambience of the blue white and gold outdoor terrace. This chic soiree was attended by Channel 10’s 2013 Bachelor Australia couple Tim Robard and Anna Heinrich, Miss World Australia finalist Regina Mackenzie, organiser of Dear Pageant Girl Peter Sererno, actor, model, musician and dancer Indeya Passfield, Fashion TV presenter Brittany Bloomer, model and Fox Sports presenter Josette O’Sullivan, models Olivia May Ambrose, Johanna Akesson, and Emily Tropea, woman’s stylist Veronica Maree and men’s stylist Christopher Haggarty.

While the waiters were busy whizzing around with magnum bottles of Chandon filling every flute in sight, head chef Ben Fitton, sous chef Ben Lyenee and the rest of the kitchen staff prepared their signature canapés including:

  • Watermelon, Persian fetta and Jamon Serrano
  • Pork jowls “cigars” truffled mash
  • Snapper tartare, radish, Yarra Valley Roe
  • Chemoula crushed chicken endive

So if you are looking for good food and sparkle in your life, head down to the outdoor terrace of Café Del Mar every Thursday from 6-8pm. You can purchase one of those 1.5 litre Chandon magnums for $90 instead of the normal $120.

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The Wolf of George Street – Establishment’s Birthday Party

Merivale throws the best parties. I know because I have been going to them for the last ten years and they have never disappointed me. On this occasion, Establishment hotel celebrated their birthday party on.Wednesday 10 September 2014 and the place was packed with regulars like me who would not miss it for the world.

The theme of their brithday party was ‘The Wolf of George Street’, adapted from the 2013 American black comedy, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. The film is directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is based on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort. It is about the rise and fall of a New York stock broker who is living the high life and then engages in security fraud and corruption on Wall Street in the 1990s.The decor included a media wall which resembled the movie logo, a champagne pyramid, fake American dollars littered all over the floor, giant white lettering over the bar proclaiming ‘More is More’, yellow signs with quotes that were in line with the movie theme and electronic displays showing stock prices. The entertainment included a lingerie dressed band, a man dressed as a wolf, a girl navigating a sailing ship, two short men throwing money around, and promotional girls dressed in swimwear.

Australia’s party favourite champagne, Chandon, was flowing in abundance for the girls while the boys had Stella Artois beers to indulge in. The back bar was also serving gin based cocktails for those who ventured that far. The kitchen brought out sliders, arancini balls, chicken nuggets and hotdogs in large quantities.

There were a number of models in attendance. Some you will recognise from my photos but I will not name them because it was a party open to the public and they were out having a good time.

It was a fun packed night. The only problem with these parties is that you have to wait another year to experience it all over again.

— at Establishment.

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Fashion on the field competition at Wyong Gold Cup Day 2014

On 5 September 2014, I had the honour of being a Fashion on the Field judge at Wyong Race Club. My fellow co-judge Neil Grigg, pictured with me below, is one of Sydney’s best milliners and has many celebrity clients. The three categories Neil I judged were Best Dressed Female, Best Dressed Male and Best Millinery. Prizes included a trip to the Gold Coast (for the Best Dressed Female), Westfield gift vouchers, De Bortoli Wines, gym membership etc.

Female contestants came from the Central Coast, Sydney and Canberra to compete. The standards were high and it was hard not picking some female contestants. You could see that they had put a lot of effort into their outfit. It reminded me of the many times I had put so much work into an outfit and got nowhere. I was not surprised that the girls who either won or were runner ups (who wore the same outfit at Rosehill Racecourse a week later) were also successful in getting into the top ten for the Fashion on the Field competition at De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose Day. In the end, Neil and I picked the girls who we thought were the best and our decision was unanimous. The girls who won were the ones who not only had an amazing hat and dress, but had put a lot of effort in getting appropriately matched shoes and accessories. The female who won Best Dressed Female was Courtney Doyle and the female who won Best Millinery was Viviana Parish.

For the male contestants it was another story. They were local Central Coast males who rocked up to the racecourse not knowing anything about a Fashion on the Field competition. When they found out, they entered with their friends for a laugh. When they won, and the prize included alcohol, they could not be happier. I remember giggling to myself when we took the winners and runner ups into the VIP marquee, and the winning male and the runner up male contestants approached the promotional girls to tell them about their good fortune and show off their spoils. You could tell that they were having a good day.

As for the expression on our face when we were judging, I look like I am cringing and Neil looks like he is alarmed. I do not know why we have those expressions on our faces. All I remember is that I kept on checking each girl’s outfit over and over again while she was on stage to make sure I picked the best one. The photo is by Wyong Race Club.

Wyong