Caterers and picnic planners get in the saddle for a big spring carnival (plus last minute baskets to order for home)

“Everyone’s pretty over the top right now,” says Sophie Storen of Cookes Food. His catering business has seen bookings for private events during Spring Carnival soar, now that people can congregate in or out of their homes.

Throughout next week, Storen will be sending servers and chefs to backyard parties for as few as 10 people; others will help hosts prepare picnics at the park.

“We’ll send a chef, they’ll cut the eye fillet for them, put it on the platters, and wrap it up so it’s ready to go.”

Cookes Food’s services are in high demand this Spring Racing Carnival. Photo: Sarah Wood Photography



People are in the mood to celebrate big racing days, but many aren’t quite ready for big crowds and big parties (although they could get one of the very limited tickets for Flemington).

Instead, they bring them glare. Staff in life jackets, elaborate baskets and Birdcage-worthy appetizers are all on the roads this week.

The van-powered Kombi picnic company and I will be busy at the Melbourne Cup delivering cushions, umbrellas, furniture and fresh flowers to picnics at St Kilda Botanic Gardens and on the driverless boats who sail on the Yarra.

“People come, take advantage, then walk away and we clean up.”

“People come in, enjoy, then walk away and we clean up,” says founder Megan Campbell.

Event staffing activity Our Boys & Girls have added a new service specifically for parks and gardens, with staff available to set up picnic furniture, pour prosecco and serve around platters of charcuterie. You can even ask for “bathroom packs” with your furniture, containing the soap, toilet paper and tissues that are often lacking in use in the park’s toilets.

Peter Rowland Group and Flemington are like horse and carriage, so to speak, with high-end caterer being a key ingredient in Spring Racing Carnival since the mid-1990s. Normally the team serves racing enthusiasts across the country. members’ stands, car parks and Birdcage, preparing 1.2 million canapes.

But this year, his famous chicken sandwiches are wrapped and delivered far beyond Flemington. Residents of Bacchus Marsh, Emerald and the Mornington Peninsula, a new delivery area, have all placed orders.

In addition to finger sandwiches, baskets flew out the door, filled with poached shrimp, simmered salmon, and grilled chicken breast with pistachio mayonnaise. CEO Michelle Biddle said more than 1,000 people have been commissioned by Victorians keen to do “fashion on the lawn” this year.

Chef Shane Delia’s event truck is ready for Spring Carnival and beyond. Equipped with a full commercial kitchen, he says the truck can handle everything from a 16-course tasting to fries and kebabs for a more relaxed party.

Our Boys and Girls have added a drop-off service at the park, with furniture and "care packs" for public toilets included.

Our Boys and Girls have added a drop-off service at the park, with furniture and “owl packs” for public toilets included. Photo: Supplied



“The truck comes with everything you want. It can be as elaborate or as whimsical as you want.”

The trackside bites come to you

ASRC catering

The finger foods are complemented with small bites of Tunisian, Kenyan and Bangladeshi asylum seekers, all available for easy online ordering. Catering packages also available. Orders 48 hours in advance for delivery up to 20 km or collection at Fitzroy North. catering.asrc.org.au

Le Fils du Poissonnier offers boxes including shrimp and lobster rolls for two or a box of DIY blinis.

Le Fils du Poissonnier offers boxes including shrimp and lobster rolls for two or a box of DIY blinis. Photo: Parker Blain



Bistro Guillaume

Impress with festive French dishes that you didn’t have to prepare yourself, like a chicken liver parfait and cold cuts, or a seafood platter to accompany the bubbles. Closing of orders 48 hours before; delivery up to 25 km or pick up at Southbank. orderbistroguillaume.com.au

The fishmonger’s son

The Fishmonger's Son blini box is one of many race-ready baskets the Melburnians order.

The Fishmonger’s Son blini box is one of many race-ready baskets the Melburnians order. Photo: Parker Blain



Blini boxes, shrimp and lobster rolls, and seafood barbie kits are available throughout the spring. Order the day before to pick up at Fitzroy North. [email protected]

Peter Rowland

The party professionals have created two baskets for the racing season. Make It Pop is more cocktail snacks while Trackside is all about mac and cheese croquettes and mini lamb burgers. Orders close for the Melbourne Cup on October 29; for other race days, order 48 hours before. Delivery in the Melbourne metro. peterrowland.com.au

Cookes Food and Shane Delia's event activities take care of private events in homes or parks.

Cookes Food and Shane Delia’s event activities take care of private events in homes or parks. Photo: Sarah Wood Photography



Provider

Known for offering set menus, the restaurants on this delivery platform also offer snacks galore. Check out Di Stasio, Palermo, and The Hardware Club for small bites, plus cocktail sets from The Ugly Duckling. Order at least 24 hours in advance for a Wed-Sun delivery. providor.com.au

Sigrid’s picnic

The Peter Rowland Group catering team is getting ready for service.

The Peter Rowland Group catering team is getting ready for service. Photo: Simon Schluter



Order pasture boxes or multi-course picnics with cheese, dips, roast chicken, salads and desserts, with orders for as few as two people accepted. Order 48 hours before delivery. sigridspicnic.com.au

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