Melbourne Cup Carnival - The Birdcage catering

Melbourne Cup Carnival Birdcage to feature outstanding catering lineup

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) is pleased to announce 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!

“Keeping a forever-curious attitude and impeccable standards is the key to exceeding expectations – and every year at the Melbourne Cup Carnival, we’re offering an exceptional experience – those who’ve visited know what I’m talking about.”

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.

For more information or to purchase tickets click here.


About Peter Rowland

Peter Rowland has been a trusted and respected name in the hospitality industry for 57 years. Founded on the Portsea back-beach in 1962 when Founder Peter Rowland OAM delivered sandwiches and cold drinks to beach-goers, the group’s portfolio of services now includes exclusive private event management, major event catering and a commercial consulting team who advise on all aspects of food and beverage management. The e-commerce offer Packed by Peter launched in 2018. In March 2019 Peter Rowland announced plans to launch nationally. The group is headquartered in South Yarra, Melbourne. The Sydney office and kitchen facilities are located in Annandale.


About The Big Group

Experts in tall orders, creative flair and epic experiences; The Big Group are known for their 30 year history of being Melbourne’s hospitalitarians extraordinaire who continue to exceed expectations, keeping them an industry leader one idea ahead of the rest.

The secret? Thinking big about the small details and aiming to have a lot of fun along the way. As celebratory artisans on a relentless pursuit for making people happy through creating unforgettable experiences; The Big Group continuously impress at events that celebrate life’s (and the nation’s!) biggest moments.

Award winners, magic makers, party enthusiasts, creatives, experienced and experiential professionals; there’s many ways to describe the expert team that makes The Big Group - big - in every imaginable way.

Founded by Bruce and Chyka Keebaugh many moons ago, The Big Group experience can be created within private spaces or discovered within its Melbourne venues; Luminare, The Glasshouse, Ormond Collective or Myer Mural Hall.

The Big Group team thrive on perfecting the big picture within every element of an event. They master this across many venues for weddings, bar mitzvahs, private celebrations, corporate events and more.

The impressive experiences delivered by The Big Group are so because of their close collaboration with their clients; they seek first to understand before sprinkling their distinctive creative styling and culinary flair across the event, with some occasional sass for good measure.

Curators of extraordinary events, experts in possibilities, brand activations and exceeding client expectations; The Big Group diligently work to create magic for people to appreciate, celebrate and remember moments worth sharing.


About made by Merivale

made by Merivale is Merivale’s impressive off-site catering business that delivers the level of personalised hospitality synonymous with its expansive portfolio of restaurants, bars and event spaces. Harnessing

Merivale’s people, passion and produce, it is the ultimate full-service partner for large-scale events across Australia.

Grown from the hospitality group’s extensive experience and expertise curating show-stopping events in-venue, made by Merivale provides clients with the opportunity to host a Merivale-style event in unique spaces and locations. For the first time, other states are able to enjoy the outstanding Merivale hospitality without having to come to Sydney, allowing clients to take their favourite Merivale tastes and moments out of their favourite venues and into their own events.

made by Merivale is backed by an impressive line-up of hospitality heavyweights including hatted chefs, award-winning sommeliers and cocktail gurus, supported by their long-standing relationships with Australia’s best producers and suppliers. Clients can have menus designed by the likes of Mr. Wong’s Dan Hong, Fred’s Danielle Alvarez, Bert’s Jordan Toft and est.’s Jacob Davey, perfectly paired with the wine curated by Master

Sommeliers Franck Moreau and Adrian Filiuta, or cocktails by Merivale Group Bars Manager, Sam Egerton.

Behind the scenes and on the floor is a formidable team of event experts, who work closely with each client to tailor bespoke ideas to suit the event brief and create guest experiences that are unique and far from the norm.


About food&desire

For nearly two decades, led by owner-operators Asaf Smoli and Leigh Worcester, food&desire’s team of culinary creatives has been delivering extraordinary, unforgettable events for Melburnians across our four venues, restaurants and beyond. We’re more than great caterers; we’re great hosts. And we always bring our best to the table.

food&desire has worked with some of the world’s most desired brands and our hand-picked chefs have international Michelin-star and hatted pedigree, but we’re just as comfortable at an intimate dinner party as we are at a million-dollar marquee wedding celebration. Whether you want truffles and caviar, or sliders and hot chips, we’ll customise a menu to your tastes.

For us, every event is as unique and important as our client. Each event starts the moment you touch our world. From planning to celebration day, we’re with you every step of the way.