The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) has announced this year’s world-famous Birdcage at the Melbourne Cup Carnival will feature four of Australia’s most celebrated caterers – Flemington icons Peter Rowland and The Big Group, and exciting new additions made by Merivale and food&desire.

The famed made by Merivale joins the VRC stable from Sydney where it is part of the successful Merivale portfolio led by Justin Hemmes, whose popular venues include ivy, Totti’s, Fred’s, Establishment, and Mr. Wong.

food&desire will also service Birdcage marquees for the first time in 2019 after 18 years in the catering business including operating leading Melbourne event venues such as Carousel and Half Acre.

Peter Rowland has been the official year-round catering partner of the VRC since 1996 and is renowned for its chicken sandwiches, a staple of Cup Week at Flemington, as well as serving delectable offerings in the Birdcage’s exclusive marquees.

Experts in thinking big about the small details, The Big Group has been creating incredible culinary encounters for the Birdcage for 21 years, and continues to be instrumental in the evolution of the food experience the enclosure is famous for. Over the years, they have been at the helm of some of the most notable marquees including the VRC’s Principal Partner, Lexus, and served their delicacies to society’s who’s who.

VRC Executive General Manager Customer Engagement Caroline Ralphsmith said the Club was thrilled to enhance its catering options in the Birdcage. “The Birdcage at the Melbourne Cup Carnival is synonymous with exceptional food, drinks and hospitality, and we want racegoers to enjoy the best Australia has to offer,” Ms Ralphsmith said.

“Peter Rowland and The Big Group have been serving up delicious fare at Cup Week for decades, and in a coup for the VRC, we are excited to welcome made by Merivale and food&desire to our outstanding catering line up.”

Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes said they were thrilled to partner with the VRC for this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.

“Lexus Melbourne Cup Day has always been one of the most exciting days in Merivale’s social calendar, so it is a tremendous honour to bring together our talented chefs and bartenders, alongside some of Melbourne’s best, for four sensational days in the Birdcage. We created made by Merivale so that we could deliver our distinctive style of food and level of service outside of our restaurants and bars, and what better setting to create a truly memorable hospitality experience than Australia’s most iconic racing event.”

food&desire Director Asaf Smoli said this is the start of something new for the company.

“To be part of what is renowned as one of Melbourne’s must-go social events, we could not be more excited. food&desire will deliver Melbourne’s love of food, its desire to find something new, and its need to celebrate. Like many times before, we will create an experience that will be remembered long after the day. Our team of creatives could not be more excited to bring food and beverage experiences alive. We look forward to playing in the most exciting social arena in Melbourne – the Birdcage!”

Peter Rowland CEO Emma Yee said the company is delighted to maintain its presence in the Birdcage.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is the epitome of what Melbourne is renowned for – sport, fashion, food, major events and respect for tradition. Peter Rowland has been creating legendary hospitality for Melburnians since 1963 and we have been proud partners of the VRC for 25 years, not only for the four days of Melbourne Cup Carnival but also for 21 other race days across the year.”

The Big Group co-founder and Director Bruce Keebaugh said the company is delighted to continue its association with the VRC.

“The Lexus Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation, but not us! We delight in our culinary creatives pushing experiential boundaries and our marquees at the Melbourne Cup Carnival, well they just keep getting better. I suppose when you love every element of what you do, you just keep raising the standard, then lo and behold you’re an industry leader. The magic of giving big thought to small details has kept us serving the Birdcage for 21 years; and we have a lot of fun doing it!”

The Birdcage is an icon of the Melbourne Cup Carnival having evolved from a humble car park to arguably the world’s most lavish event space for corporate and sponsor guests as well as VRC members. Every year the Birdcage is bigger and better than the year before, and it continues to be the most lusted after invite on course at Flemington.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival begins with AAMI Victoria Derby Day on Saturday 2 November, followed by Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday 5 November, Kennedy Oaks Day on Thursday 7 November and Seppelt Wines Stakes Day on Saturday 9 November.

Source: Flemington