There are few things in this world that can make me squeal like a giddy school girl: Free cake, photos of piglets eating ice cream, Ryan Gosling… and now I can also add “winning tickets to dinner at Victor Churchill” to the list.
Last Thursday morning, I woke up happy. Not for any other reason other than the fact that I was alive, I was healthy, the sun was out and I felt just so blessed right there in that very moment.
As I sat down for my breakfast and usual scrolling of Instagram, I came across a competition for a chance to win 2 tickets to a 5th birthday dinner celebration for Victor Churchill that night. If you don’t know who or what they are, they’re a family owned and run prestige meat shop in Woollahra, full of the highest quality and range of meat and poultry that you can get in Sydney. I’ve never been there before, but I’d been following them religiously on Instagram, drooling over their award-winning wagyu on a daily basis.
Jared has actually been there before, back when he was still a second year apprentice (as a butcher) and it had just been renovated and refurbished. He said he was completely blown away by it, and I remember saying to him “when we have money one day, we’ll go and just spoil ourselves stupid!” … Not thinking that would come any time soon, until last Thursday.
When I saw the competition, I entered it on a whim not thinking at all that I would win. But when I got the message saying I had been picked, I was speechless. I called Jared while he was at work and he was ecstatic. I pulled out his best suit and my nicest dress and just paced about the apartment all afternoon trying to kill time and calm my nerves.
I mean, we were going to dinner at Victor Churchill. We were going to taste their amazing produce, cooked by none other than Luke Mangan. I was like a child on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa to arrive.
When we walked through the doors, I was greeted by Anthony. I’ll be honest, I had no idea who he was. All I knew was that he was incredibly warm, friendly and made us feel comfortable and welcome. I later realised he was the owner of Victor Churchill. For the owner of such a prestige business, he was the nicest and most humble man!
We also met Luke Mangan soon after and got a photo with him. I was a little bit star struck!The set up was also absolutely breathtaking. The dinner table was lined with glistening crystal ware, branches and vines hung from the ceiling and walls, vases of flowers and candles scattered around the shop, expensive champagne was served endlessly, there was a rib cage hand sculpted and covered in gold leaf sparkling at one end of the room, a beautiful Marilyn Monroe looking lady sang for us and the whole shop was ours to explore for the night. I was speechless. Jared and I explored every corner, took in every detail, and while he is usually quieter than me, it was like he someone had lit fire in him. I watched and listened to him talk with passion and about all the cuts of meat, the quality of them and what they are best for. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I looked him and our surroundings. The food. Oh the food. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it was.
The canapés consisted of Dice of Foie Gras and Spice Bread, Roast Bone Marrow filled with Snail and Truffle Butter, Wagyu Bresaola Cigars and Smoked Salmon Mille Feuille with Caviar. It was the first time I’d ever tasted things like foie gras, snail and truffle butter and I savoured every bite. All of the canapés were delicious, but my favourite of them all was the wagyu cigars. They literally melted in my mouth, absolutely divine. The entrée was Black Pudding (from Victor Churchill) with Seared Scallops and Caramelised Apple Purée and of all the dishes served in the night, it was my favourite. The black pudding melted in your mouth, the scallops cooked to perfection and the apple purée complimented everything so beautifully. If I could eat that dish every day for the rest of my life, I would be one happy lady.The main meal was Jared’s favourite. We had Spiced Lamb Loin, seared then poached in Coconut Milk and served with Curried Leeks and Sweet Pumpkin. The highlight for me was when Luke Mangan came around sprinkled everyone’s plate with a good dash of seaweed salt. It added such a nice flavour twist on the whole dish. The dessert was Meringue with Lemon Curd and Balsamic Poached Strawberries and it was presented beautifully. Jared isn’t a “dessert person” unless it involves the words “chocolate” and “cake,” so a part of me was hoping he would give me his dish. He unfortunately loved it and cleaned the plate completely! I don’t blame him though, there not one bit of food left on my plate either!We also made friends with the lovely ladies sitting next to us, who had actually entered a ballot in order to be able to go into the draw to purchase tickets. That was when we discovered just how much each person at that table had paid to be there. I don’t even want to write it. Let’s just say that as two full time students, Jared and I would have had to save for months to be able to afford dinner for both of us there. I felt so incredibly grateful at that point. Even more so than when I won. I also felt incredibly out of my league. I wasn’t wealthy, I didn’t have a high paying job, I didn’t live in a nice place and I couldn’t afford anything I was eating or drinking. But these lovely ladies we were seated next to were just so nice and down to earth that those feelings eventually dissipated and I forgot all about that stuff. We talked, we laughed and we had a great time. After our dinner, Luke and Anthony held a Q & A session where we all got to grill them on what they knew about their industries, meat, restaurants, produce and everything in between. It was at this point that it cemented in me that food is where I want to spend my life. To hear them both talking with such passion and knowledge was so incredibly inspiring, I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather be. I have been feeling like I’ve been a bit lost lately, and not feeling a concrete conviction in myself that I had made the right choice in following my passion. But the universe works in mysterious ways, and I felt like winning these tickets was just the Universe telling me “you’re ok love, this is what you were born for, be patient, work hard and keep on going.”
So thank you once again Anthony of Victor Churchill for hosting such an amazing event for which I feel so incredibly humbled to have been a part of, Luke Mangan for the mouth watering food, all of the sponsors of the event for making it so beautiful and thank you to everyone who follows my blog, Instagram or Facebook page and shown me wondrous support and motivation over the days, weeks, months and years.