Ok, so neither of those little boys are me, but I have dreamed that one day I could attend the Melbourne Cup carnival and get to hang out in the extravagant marquees. Never did I ever think it would happen. So imagine my utter shock and excitement when I found out from Julia (Tink PR) that I would get to go to the Emirates Stakes Day Lexus Australia Marquee. When I received that email, I was literally jumping around in the office and told anyone within (or out of) earshot that I was going to the Lexus Marquee. As it turned out, the Lexus Marquee totally lived up to my expectations and I had so much fun.
Like any good story, let me start at the start, which is generally a logical place to start Dr Seuss would tell you. So, it all started with an invite to taste the food that would be featured at the Lexus Marquee during the Melbourne Cup Festival. Along with I-Hua and the Boy, Michele and Daisy, we headed to the headquarters of The Big Group catering company to sample the fine fare.
It turned out that the menu at the Lexus Marquee was being catered by Simon Denton from Hihou, Neil Perry from Rockpool and The Big Group, a high end catering company who cater for private parties for millionaires to big corporate functions.
From Hihou, the following were served:
Kingfish ceviche sashimi
Buckwheat crepe with duck breast, mustard miso, pickled mushroom and leek
Crisp miso cigars filled with tuna tartare
Hihou hot dogs with pickles and a choice of wasabi mayo, tonkatsu or chili sauce.
Temaki roll of prawns or avocado and green bean
As expected, all the food from Simon were great, and I totally loved the miso cigars, temaki rolls and the Hihou hot dogs. The hot dogs may seem rather ordinary but together with the condiments, it was so good.
From Rockpool, the following were served:
Rockpool Wagyu slider
Asparagus, pancetta and egg tart
Fried calamari and zucchini aioli
Again, all the dishes were good, even the fried calamari which can sometimes be chewy and soggy. The highligh was the Wagyu slider, which was juicy and full of flavour.
Finally, from the The Big Group, the following were served:
Smoked goats cheese on spun pastry canape
Steak and chip with tarragon bearnaise canape
Beetroot and orange cured tuna with cucmber canape
Pork belly cooked in coconut caramel with lettuce, mint and lime
Tequila and lime marshmallow
Toffee and coconut creme brulee on a macadamia sable
Peanut butter eskimo pie with salted caramel and praline
The canapes were all very dainty and tasted good but of course you know I loved the pork belly the most among the savouries. The desserts were all really good, except I didn't love the marshmallow as I found the tequila flavour too strong and some bad memories from years passed of tequila did not help me in liking it. However, the tiramisu and brulee were both excellent. Then finally, the eskimo pie was amazing. Smooth peanut butter ice cream covered in a very thin chocolate shell, with a dollop of salted caramel and pralines. Eaten in one or two mouthfuls, it was a totally beautiful thing.
We all went away from that meal really happy to have tasted the delicious food that would be served at the Lexus Marquee. So when Julia contacted us the next day to say that she had managed to get us all invited, we were all ecstatic. As none of us had ever been to a marquee before, we didn't quite know what to wear, so spent some time getting our outfits together. After much deliberations on what to wear, we went for fun and colourful and were ready for the big day.
When Stakes Day finally arrived, we were chauffeured in stunning Lexus cars to the Flemington Racecourse, via the secret entrance that led us right to the front gate. We went into the Lexus Marquee and instantly all grinned in excitement. Look at the view that you get from the top level of the Lexus Marquee in the rooftop garden designed by Jamie Durie. The day started with a bit of drizzle of rain but then became a glorious crisp day.
Inside the marquee, the colours and designs were based on The Great Wave of Kanagawa. The two floors were both serving food and drinks and there were guests all enjoying themselves.
Julia suggested we take a wander around The Birdcage while the weather was still nice. Outside, there were a number of other big marquees all bustling with people. While Michele tried to keep it all in place so she wouldn't flash everyone with B&B (boobs and bum, who would've thought this food blog would ever contain the words boobs and bum haha), we tried to look for celebrities, and saw Shane Delia and Matt Preston.
As we continued on our wander, a Channel 7 crew pounced on the famous Ms I-Hua and insisted she do "a piece to camera" as they say in the industry. Five takes later, the famous Ms I-Huas nails and rings were on the coverage.
Once back inside the marquee, we started on the food and drinks. We had already eaten the breakfast buns (delicious) and the Nutella donuts (as amazing as you imagine) before our walk. We also studied (ummm flicked through) our form guides ready to make our bets later. We continued our celebrity stalking/searching inside the marquee. We saw Rebecca Madden, and then also Matt Preston. Of course Daisy and I went over to get a photo. Matt was very obliging and very personable, making sure he really talked to everyone. I thought my blue jacket was a bit bright, but clearly Mr Preston knows how to wear colour. I did get a handshake from another guy at the end of the day who wore the same colour jacket and we both congratulated ourselves on our great choice of colour haha.
On the second floor, we ate canapes before Simon spotted us and helped seat us at the Hihou pop-up restaurant. We went through and ate the whole menu again and it was all excellent. Simon was such an attentive host and was like an eagle watching everyone and making sure everyone was well fed and looked after. The whole operation by his team was seamless.
The Big Group staff were equally seamless in their roles. There were staff to direct people, to help serve people, and to even dance like pros when it was music time. We had such a great time continually eating and drinking in the marquee and in between also placed some bets on each race. Unfortunately, we won nothing, but it was still fun to bet. Some of my picks such as New York, Detox and Temple of Boom didn't do so well. I guess you shouldn't pick horses by their names eh haha. Even when we got expert tips from Michele's friend Alana (who had been winning all day in every single race she tipped), we managed to lose. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. I wasn't going to win heaps of money to become a millionaire, but I was so happy I got to see the inside of a marquee for at least one time.
Finally the day ended in a massive dance party where a guy was playing the bongo drums and a singer busted out many great tunes. Everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves, with some great moves by Julia (flashdance arms and Jazz hands), a Lexus staff (moonwalk) and some not so good moves from some male patrons (twerking and grinding). However, everyone took it humorously and laughed, sang and danced. I was working up quite a sweat dancing around but clearly Ms I-Hua was the best dancer as she received a note from another person professing "I Love You XOXO". That, concluded our day as we made our way to the pick-up area where we relieved our tales in the Lexus car as our wonderful driver drove us back into the city.
It was such a great day and I had such a great time. It was so good to feel so special, even just for one day. A big thank you to Julia, Lexus Australia and the gang for such a fun day. We shall treasure these memories for a long time. Hope you've all had some fun reading this post and had a glimpse into the fun day we had.
Go check out Michele's post or I-Hua's postfor more photos and another take on the day.
Thank you to Tink PR and Lexus Australia for inviting and hosting me at the Lexus Marquee.