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Review: Celebrating half a century with family, friends and fine food

A look at how a meal created by chef Simon Chilver turned a 50th birthday surprise into life long memories.

They say that birthdays become less important as you get older. For the most part that seems fairly accurate, except when you hit an important milestone. A celebration of 50 years calls for a big and special surprise.

Agostino Giramondo wanted to give his wife Tonina, the ultimate celebration for her 50th birthday but wasn't sure exactly what she wanted.

“I asked Tonina a long time ago – what would be her ideal 50th celebration? She told me she wanted only close friends and family to celebrate with and didn’t want anything to extravagant.” Agostino, who’s the sales director of Carsales.com.au.

“She’s quite introverted but very personal!”

Choosing the location

After much thought Agostino arranged a celebration for Tonina in a vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula. It was an ideal location with open spaces for the kids to play in the garden and a place where guests could talk into the evening, device free.

“We made it a weekend thing, so people we invited would be able to spend the two days away,” explains Agostino. “The day before we arrived, I told Tonina we were going to Mornington Peninsular and she thought it was just the two of us.”

Augostino hired Intertain chef Simon Chilver, director and founder of City Chef Solutions, to cook up a delicious feast for the night.

Creating the perfect menu

"I drafted a simple menu that would work well with their budget, guests' preferences and theme for the night,” explains Simon. “I had to come up with ideas that would suit parents in their 40s and 50s, their children and the grandparents so it was a bit of a challenge.

Taking into consideration the occasion, the location and the guests, Simon’s experience informed how he approach for the menu. "I thought the best way to serve the food for the 25 guests would be a buffet.”

“I came up with 10 items -  nothing too crazy, as I knew there were a lot of different age groups involved, and I didn’t want to leave anyone out. I opted for comfort food - just a little bit modern," he explains.  

Simon decided on the three delicious courses.

A selection of entrees including garlic & herb pizza, salt & pepper calamari with aioli.

Mains saw guests have a choice of slow cooked lamb shoulder with barley, roast onions, peppers and red wine sauce or baked Atlantic Salmon with risone creamy caper sauce and delicious baked potatoes with cheese and bacon.

Dessert included a choice of delicious sticky fig and walnut pudding with caramel sauce and cream, choc-tiramisu and berry compote and the ever-popular fruit and cheese with lavosh.

The Celebration

Guests had no idea what to expect when they arrived and the star of the show, Tonina, was thrilled to see her family and friends gathered in her honour. When the food was served, it was clear this meal was going to be one to remember.

“The desserts were magnificent and were definitely my highlight, while everyone else raved about the salmon. The guests debated with each other over which one was the best!” said Agostino. “The lamb was also really exquisite.”

Throughout his 22 year career, Simon admitted that he has not often prepared a meal like this. "It’s a rarity. Most of these dinners are at someone house, but this luncheon was special. I loved the location. It is a beautiful place and perfect for the group," said Simon.

The Intertain touch

Agostino chose Intertain for this important day because he feels it is an exemplary start-up with great innovation. “I love supporting new technology and concepts, especially when they offer something the mass market doesn’t.”

He added that the idea of a personal chef to your home was not only about food but about the experience.

“While everyone can dine outside, it adds an extra personal touch to when a qualified professional chef cooks for you in your kitchen and personally explains all about the food preparation and the story behind his dishes.”

For a 50th birthday party, this was indeed an event that will never be forgotten.

Published 17 July 2017

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