"Would you like anything Alice?"
These are the words I uttered to one of my all time food heroes.
Yep, that's what I said to Alice Waters.
I shiver just writing that.
She smiled and replied no thank you, as she admired the roses and strawberries on display, her voice hardly audible over the din of 140 or so excited travellers and entourage also in the room.
We exchanged a few more pleasantries before Alice disappeared into the crowd.
Chef, activist, restauranteur and author, I have loved Alice's work for many years. A pioneering champion of local food, slow food, farmers markets and school kitchen gardens. I even planted a rare apple tree, Esopus Spitzenburg in my garden as I'd read somewhere it was her favourite apple.
Alice had just stepped off a charter flight and walked into the Hobart Airport terminal, along with eighty or so other food influencers from around the world. They were here as part of a giant tourism promotion, Restaurant Australia, and I can tell you the whole of Hobart town has gone nuts working like crazy to provide the most delicious, mind blowing experience for our guests.
My role, was to style the rarely used International Lounge at the Airport, to provide a special space to welcome these guests as they stepped off the tarmac. Take a bland white room and give it a rustic Tasmanian shed feel. It was a huge job, logistically challenging and an absolute delight. Working with super talented florist Missie Austwick and the clever guys from Outlook Concepts, I think we nailed the brief. I named the bar The Geeveston Fanny, not only after Tasmania's very own delicious apple, but also a nod to Alice's Cafe Fanny.
At the end of two long days of setting up the space, I stayed on to help serve a hand picked selection of Tasmanian refreshments that I had pulled together for the guests, Cape Grim Water, Henry's Ginger Beer, Ashbolts sparkling elderflower drink, piles of strawberries straight from a farm in Cygnet and chocolates from The Cat's Tongue. The guests were only in the space a short time while they waited for their hotel transport, but for 30 minutes or so the place buzzing. A big worldwide foodie get together.
Working on this project, I learnt so much, met talented people and feel so grateful for the help of so many friends (and super husband Leo) who helped to pull it all together. It was one crazy, busy, fun, nervous butterflies-in-the-stomach fuelled ride and I was so delighted to be a part of it.
But the one thing I will never, ever forget, is those special few moments when, in a room filled with 140 noisy people, it felt like it was just me and Alice.
A big heartfelt thanks (with links!) to the cool people who helped pull this together
Henry's Ginger Beer
Cape Grim Water
The Cat's Tongue Chocolatiers
My Bearded Pigeon
Soap By Hand