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Ruby Luncheon at the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival

01 June 2012

The first day of the Noosa Food and Wine Festival the gates were opened to by 200 women for the Westpac Ruby Luncheon.  Guest speakers Stephanie Alexander, Nicky Riemer and Jane Ferrari talked about how they got started in business.  The challenges, changes and how they gained success.

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation has just been granted three years of support from the Federal Minister for Health. Stephanie Alexander is educating children of what goes in and out of the soil, to what ends up on your plate. As a librarian she thought, food was for fun. Opening Stephanie's, her own restaurant in Melbourne, filled her with pleasure and a few difficult decisions.

Working in the industry for over 30 years, Stephanie has made marvellous friendships with colleagues, inspiring and influencing them, to seeing them now in their own restaurants. Admitting “It is hard to run a restaurant with your own money” said Stephanie, especially while you have young children. “We all came out of it the best we could,” said Stephanie, in life “you should be able to discuss and communicate the things that went wrong”.

“I did not have good enough grades, to be a vet” says Jane Ferrari, PR for Yulumba wines. Jane trained as a wine maker, in the Barossa, after 15 years in production for Yulumba, she was offered to become the storyteller for Yulumba wine. Speaking honestly about her doubt, weighing up the pros and cons of the job, she still compared herself to other PR’s looks.  Turning down the job because of her appearance, Jane’s boss assured her, that they did not want someone from the tits and teeth brigade. The audience went from laughter to feeling compassion for Jane’s story. Now with the support from her family and a boss who believes in her, Jane explains “Public speaking is the most difficult thing I do.” 

Nicky Riemer studied engineering, before realising she was not doing what she loved. “Do what makes your heart sing” advice given by her “father” said MC Larke Riemer. Nicky started as an apprentice, in her second year working under Stephanie Alexander. Now at 40, finally owning her own restaurant, Union Dining, Melbourne, with a business partner who she trusts taking care of the front of house, Nicky admits to enjoying being in the kitchen.

The three women left us all assured that things will get easier, that working hard does pay off.  With support of friends, family and business partners, success is possible. Nurturing as we are, to remember that we need to push more for our own careers. 

The entrée was put together by Stephanie Alexander, an autumn inspired salad with soft and crunchy leaves, apples, fruit complemented with something salty like bacon and rich like quail eggs. 

Dessert – Yarra Valley cheese platter, Yering camembert, black savourine, toasted walnuts, muscatels, honeycomb w Yulumba Scribbler

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