Sunday, June 10, 2007


It's still rather surreal to think that I was in Melbourne just last weekend. I guess, the thought of me ever being able to head back across the ditch seemed like such a feat. And for it actually happen under such amazing circumstances is, for me, a true miracle.

Since this trip was confirmed, I was bombarded with many questions esp the one that went, "What's it for?". Before the trip, only a handful of people were told as we were told that it was confidential. But now, I can tell then world........

About a month-and-a-half to two months ago, myself and 3 others were privileged enough to be asked to represent AUT and NZ at 2 of the Australian Good Food & Wine Shows-Melbourne & Sydney. And without a doubt, we all said, "YES!".

Basically, it was an all-expenses-paid-for trip across the ditch. We would be employed by Tourism NZ over the 4 days to give them a hand at the shows.

Last year, Tourism NZ took an exhibit to Australia but they did everything themselves, including the food prep. Unfortunately, because they do not normally work with food they got a little too involved in the food prep and in turn their customer relations was compromised. SO they decided to approach AUT to see if they would be interested in working together with them. And I'm sure you know what their answer was...

So the exhibit they took across this year was a slightly revamped version of last year's. The way it was set out was so they it would be like a walk through NZ and sampling wines from the different regions. As you entered the stand, you would pass through Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Nelson/Marlborough & Waipara Valley/Canterbury. At each stand you would sample the wines from the specific regions and there would be food to accompany the wines.

The food available for sampling were NZ beef, NZ smoked salmon & NZ blue cheese. Each day, we put together approx 6000 pieces of canapes featuring the beef, salmon & blue cheese. I am now officially off blue cheese, smoked salmon & beef for at least the next 2 months! (I used to love 'em all).

So last Thursday, Daniel & I started our day bout 3.30am with last minute packing and off to the airport we went. We checked in at 5.30am and were off the tarmac at 7.30am. We arrived Melb Airport at 9.30am local time and got to the hotel bout 10.45am. It was off to get a quick lunch at a bakery just a few doors up from the hotel. Then it was off to work. Daniel was off to the Sofitel Hotel kitchen with Chef James Thomson and I, to the Exhibition Centre to help with setting up the stand.

At about 3pm, I went back to the Sofitel kitchen to give them a hand with prep-ing for the show as they were running rather behind. I really enjoyed being there and just being to see another hotel's kitchen and to compare it with Sky City's. We finished up bout 6pm and headed back to the hotel we were staying at for a briefing. That finished up about 7.45pm. By that time, Daniel and I were starving and were dying for some food. Though we were extremely exhausted, food was what was on our mind. So we headed up the road to my favourite Vietnamese restaurant. Boy, was it good...

We headed up to Daniel's room, had a nice wind down with a glass of wine each and then bed! By the time we got to sleep it was probably bout 10.30pm Melb time. SO we were up for about 21hrs!!!

The next 3 days went like this: Up at 6am, breakky at 7am and out the hotel door by 8am. We were at the show from 8am to 5pm. On Fri and Sat nite, I caught up with some really good friends and I had a blast. Sunday evening, Daniel & I went to St Kilda and had dinner at Di Stassio. Now, I had some real good meals and some bad ones and Di Stassio falls into the 'bad ones'! (Cuisine Magazine needs to check out their sources and where they get their restaurant reviewers from).

Mon and Tues were probably the most crazy days I had in Melbourne.

I started off Monday with a quick trip up to Melbourne Uni to get mom and dad their much loved uni t-shirts & jumpers. Then it was back to the city to get some bank matter sorted out. That took a little longer than I wanted it to but oh well. I had brunch with Daniel and then I had to nip out to the S.E. suburbs to visit my school.

My second mom, Bronwyn (aka Mrs O), was just classic. (She was my maths teacher in YR 10 & 12 and we got on like a house on fire while I was at PLC. We have kept in touch since and I was always introduced to her friends as her extra daughter). She was ready and waiting at the reception to take me round. It was like I was her long lost daughter and we were seeing each other for the first time. I spent about and hour and a half there. Mrs O made the biggest deal of all that I have been doing and even got my photo taken to be put into the next issue of PLC in Print (the school magazine). It was lovely to see everyone that I wanted to and thought it was extremely rushed I'm glad I did it. And Mrs O, you were so sweet and thanx for the guided tour!

Then it was off to my guardians. I spent the evening with them over dinner that I cooked. It was something that I used to do for them so this was no exception. It went down well, esp with the kids so that was good. The kids can be fussy eaters. After dinner, they dropped me off at BUGS. This was the gym club where I started my coaching career. BUGS is very dear to me and I'm so pleased that to know that I will always have a spot there for me whenever I'm back for good! I was great to see everyone and that BUGS was still going strong.

Tues involved a catch up with Katherine. We headed off to the zoo bout 9.30am and left bout 12.50pm. It was a lovely few hours we spent together catching up and enjoying the animals. Back at the city, we caught up with a friend that we hadn't seen in a long while too. After that quick catch up, we went for lunch at a Thai restaurant near the hotel. Lunch was really good-both food and the company. Then, a mad dash down to the supermarket to get the essentials-Doritos & Kettles chips-and a mad dash back to the hotel to grab my bags and head off to the airport.

We checked-in nice and early and it was another last catch up with another friend that was much like a sister to me while I was at school. So, I made that catch catch up last as long as I could and then I had to go through customs. :(

Off the tarmac we went and arrived back in Auckland At 12.15am on Wed morning! What a crazy trip!

- In many ways, I never left Melbourne. So many things are still there and the same. I still know the city as well as when I left (though I was a little rusty). I still love the place as much as I did.
-But in many ways, so much has changed. The girls I used to coach have all grown up that I didn't recognise them. It took a lot of prompting from the other coached and a lot of concentrating before I realised it was them. Mrs O's younger daughter is now in Yr 12. I remember the day I met her-she was in Yr 6!
-When I do leave, it will be hard-a lot harder then I first thought. Now, Auckland is home. My family is here, support system is here, friends are here, life is here. And without my friends at cession, I don't know where I would be now. But Melb has and will always have a special place in my heart but I know that it will be extremely difficult to say good bye when I do move.