Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, Pier Road, St Kilda
(03) 9534 1300 orwww.foodanddesire.com
Food & Desire has been busy since Leigh Worcester and his partner took over the business in the new millennium. A change of direction led the catering company from corporate lunches to far more ambitious functions, and since then they’ve refashioned a nightclub on the rim of Albert Park Lake as the super-serene Carousel function space. This year sees Food & Desire expand again, this time into St Kilda’s Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, where they’ve taken on the lease of the second-storey function space, called Harbour Room (designed by Chris Connell of MAP), as well as rustling up tucker for hearty sea-faring club members.
venue: Are these venues in a way an extension of what you offer on the catering side?
Leigh Worcester: Correct. A lot of our FOH team has come from a fine dining restaurant background. That’s the approach we’re trying to bring, the calibre of food equal to a hat restaurant with as much attention to detail as we can. Even to the extent of getting chefs who are Michelin star trained.
venue: Is the function market looking for an blank canvas or a venue with distinct personality and style?
LW: There are so many different needs and requirements based on the myriad different events going on. There’s certainly a tendency in the marketplace to look for something different and new, which is somewhat of a shame. Gone are the days where clients build up a relationship and loyalty to the extent where they keep coming back to the same venue year after year if they’ve been happy with their experience. There’s a tendency to look for a different space for a different experience, and they’ll modify their requirements according to what the venue offers. We’re very fortunate in that our two venues offer exceptional water and skyline outlooks of Melbourne. I think what we’re going to find in the current economic climate and the year ahead is cut backs in the ancillary aspects associated with events. I suppose that we’re in an advantageous position in that we offer a product where clients can just walk in and have that experience without having to throw big dollars at dressing it up.
venue: Have you noticed any corporate event cutbacks?
LW: The barometer for us will be the early 2009 enquiry level. A lot of corporates come back from holidays and book February/March quite quickly. We’re finding that the enquiry level at the Harbour Room has been phenomenal. The wedding market is certainly still buoyant — we don’t have a Saturday left for 2009! The wedding market will likely be the mainstay of next year.