While the day of the Ritz, cheese 'n gherkin cracker combo is long gone (thank heavens!), parties across the nation still stand afflicted by a bad case of TFF (Terrible Finger Food). Now that we're into the sillier of seasons, with every second person hosting a shindig/bash/soiree, the diagnosis seems to be getting a whole lot worse: the mini pies, the mini samosas, the mini spring rolls… Well, dear friends, we say no more! No more value packs from the Woollies freezers! No more mini fried parcels of lord knows what! 'Tis the season to take a stand against TFF!
To help, we've compiled a list of the city's finest caterers with the most scrumptious menus on offer. With everything from salad platters to delicate French canapés, these caterers have you (and your shindigs) covered this silly season.
BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS
In just over three years, Bright Young Things has taken Melbourne parties by storm with their edible design feats and oh-so-stylish eats. After a high tea fit for royalty? Or perhaps a ten-course Argentinean adventure? Bright Young Things has you covered, with an inspiring menu customised to each occasion.
We're eyeing off the buttery brioche topped Persian feta, sumac spiced lamb and pomegranate pearls (from the Middle Eastern Extravaganza menu), the spring pea, corn and truffled custard galettes with Holy Goat fromage frais and baby red garnet (from the Day at The Polo menu), and the champagne poached peaches served with mascarpone and a pistachio tuille (on the High Tea menu).
A popular re-fuelling spot for South Melbourne Market-goers, Gas serves up Mediterranean and Middle Eastern delights that, luckily enough for us, can be taken home and enjoyed at the next summer BBQ. They have a huge range of ready-to-serve platters on offer, piled high with everything from Middle Eastern dips to artisan cheeses. Whilst these are sure to win over your mates, the real magic is in the tapas platters, where you can stuff yourself to the very brim with a huge range of Gas's gastronomic delights.
We're saving space for the lamb kofta skewer with grated apple, mint and sumac, rolled in dukkah and served with Greek yogurt. Oh, and we'll probably (okay, very likely) be going back for seconds of the suppli with porcini mushrooms stuffed with mozzarella and basil. Their salads are also sure to win you over with luscious creations such as the caramelised pear, roasted fennel and fig salad, topped with a blue cheese Greek yogurt dressing and toasted walnuts. That's certainly one salad I'd like to make friends with.
Image Credit: Ed Dixon Food Design Facebook.
ED DIXON FOOD DESIGN
Awarded 'Boutique Caterer of the Year 2013', Ed Dixon Food Design offers the complete party-planning package of event management, customised menu design and event styling. In need of a helping hand at your Christmas do? Got a little too merry to plan your NYE cocktail bash? Ed Dixon Food Design has all of your party needs covered.
Their canapé menu is sure to get your tastebuds tingling with goodies such as son-in-law quail egg topped with palm sugar, chilli caramel and crispy shallots, wakame crusted prawn tails with five spice salt and fresh lime and, last but not least, leatherwood honey panna cotta with pomegranate pearls. Oh Ed, you can stay all year.
Miss Peppercorn offers up a range of delicious, wholesome canapés for the time-poor party planner. Their delicious salads deserve a special mention – served on platters (or packed in individual noodle boxes for those averse to sharing), they include mouth-watering flavour combinations such as watermelon, cucumber and mint topped with crumbled Meredith goat feta. It's summer in a salad and incredibly delicious.
While their awesome salad platters are sure to be a hit at any barbie, make sure you don't go past their caramelised onion, garlic kale and chilli bruschetta (for the obligatory superfood hit), or their devilishly delectable crispy shredded coconut prawns smothered in sweet chilli jam. Oh, yes, you're welcome.
While Peter Rowland covers a range of large-scale events across the country, they also know how to cater for a killer festive party, taking care of start-to-finish planning from establishing the right look for your bash to the dreaded end of night clean up. If that doesn't sound good enough, their team of expert tasters will personalise a scrumptious menu that is sure to suit the most finicky of guest palates.
We're already drooling over what's on offer – think parmesan goujeres with goat's curd, crushed peas and mint, caramelised pork belly with pressed watermelon and Vietnamese mint, and gloriously oozey marshmallow-centred chocolate pudding topped with nougat cream to finish. Let's just say we all want Peter at our party.
Whilst Blakes was titled 'Wedding Caterer of the Year 2013', you don't need to be tying the knot to enjoy award-winning chef Andrew Blake's tasty treats. Covering everything from cocktails and canapés to a sit down dinner and buffet menus, Blakes has all your event needs sorted for this festive season.
Tasty offerings include ras al hannout spiced quail and currant mini pies, seared scallop in its half shell served with pork crackling, asian herbs and sweetfish sauce, grilled bugtail with pickled mango sweet chilli jam and fried shallots, and tiny doughnuts filled with plum jam. Delish!
Image Credit: Peter Rowland Catering Facebook.
Starting out as a bespoke bakery supplying miniature breads to Melbourne's finest caterers and hotels, Egg is now one of the city's favourite catering companies, selling a range of little goodies that pack a huge flavour punch.
Make sure you try out their famed mini bagel stuffed with parma ham, mascarpone blue cheese, baby rocket and pistachio nut pesto. Their five spiced quail baguette topped with cucumber yoghurt is another miniature winner. Their sweets, including the Valrhona chocolate crackles (covered with sparkle dust), are also sure to be a hit with little and big kids alike.
Starting your New Years resolutions a few days early? Egg's wellness range offers up low-carb, low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt canapés that don't skimp on flavour. Nutritious-and-delicious delights include a spelt tart topped with smoked trout, fennel, baby watercress and verjuice jelly. The wild fig and roasted walnut pudding, drizzled in cardamom and sweet orange syrup, is a sweet not-so-naughty treat that'll have you praising Egg in no time.
Formed 53 years ago by husband-wife duo, Des and Margaret Luckman, Luckman Catering is a catering company known for fabulous canapés and familial hospitality. All of their Asian-influenced, fusion style food is freshly prepared onsite by the Luckmans and son, Ben, ensuring the freshest, tastiest, made-with-love morsels you could ever ask for.
Luckman's decadent Peking duck parcels and housemade dumplings put the stock standard spring roll party fare to shame. Oh, and Des's legendary beer battered fish with house made tartare is literally off the hook.
DAMM FINE FOOD
Specialising in clean, contemporary cuisine, stylish setups and five star service, Damm Fine Food sure does throw a damn good party. Along with a standout menu of scrummy Asian-inspired canapés (think rice paper rolls with sticky pork belly, grilled pineapple, purple basil and crackling…oh boy), Damm Fine also offers a range of tasting tables and larger dishes to keep guests fully sated.
As if it couldn't get any better, three of Melbourne's most loved chefs have designed menus exclusively for Damm Fine Food, allowing foodies to sample culinary masterpieces in their very own homes. Pope Joan's Matt Wilkinson delivers a stunning menu featuring cauliflower cheese & truffle jaffles, quail kiev with a Pope Joan slaw and a ridiculously delicious pumpkin ice cream sandwich. Coda's Adam D'Sylva's menu features Asian delights such as tempura bugs with Roy Chio's kimchi, chilli salt and soy dipping sauce, sizzling prawns in XO sauce with wood ear mushroom, chilli and okra and, for those who can't resist the sweet stuff, a popcorn parfait served with raspberry sorbet, caramel corn, yuzu and rock salt. Last but definitely not least, Paul Wilson of Mr Wilson adds fiery Latin flare with his menu of popular street eats, including the fall-off-the-bone-tender braised lamb short rib empanadas with black mission fig mole. Holy guacamole.
THE BIG GROUP
Simply put, The Big Group is big on good food. Established by husband-wife duo Bruce and Chyka Keebaugh in 1990, The Big Group has become one of Melbourne's largest privately owned catering companies, feeding everyone from visiting European Royal families to your friendly neighbour Joe. Whether you're throwing a 300-person NYE extravaganza or intimate dinner with family, The Big Group has your party food covered.
So what should you order for your next function? How about the mouth watering blue swimmer crab and chive omelettes, ham and egg sliders with chilli jam, or shitake mushroom tacos with avocado and basil? If you're after something a little bigger then the roast lamb shoulder with pinenut skordalia and zucchini remoulade, or the crispy spiced chicken san choy bau with a honey and chilli dressing should hit the spot! The options are endless, so whatever The Big Group brings to the table, you can rest assured you guests will be talking about it for many more parties to come.
Image Credit: The Big Group.
Also worth having on silly season speed dial:
Cooper and Milla's - delicious salads, savouries, and sweets! Brilliant catering with a home-style touch.
Cookes Food - everything from THE BEST cheese platter ever, to simple (but devilishly delicious) ice cream sandwiches.
Main Image Credit: Pinterest.