Nearing the end of a cold winter

It’s been a busy couple of months, can’t believe we are not far off Spring as well as the relaunch of our TOP10 magazine. Nothing like a change they say, so off with the old Dining Around Sydney and in with the new TOP10 – with a new design, content and features. The office is in full production of the magazine and more importantly trying to decide where to hold our launch party. The new look magazine will have features that include TOP10 Hatted Restaurants, TOP10 Waterfront Restaurants, TOP10 Luxury Retreats, TOP10 Spas, TOP10 Cooking Schools, TOP10 Wineries and the list goes on. It’s a tough job visiting all our fabulous gourmet destinations all over Australia, but someone has to do it with the help of Yolanda and my food writers in each state. As well we have introduced features on cooking schools in other parts of the world, including Italy where I am headed for next month as guest of a hotel who run a famous cooking school in Tuscany.

Winter is a great season for dining and wining with friends in cosy restaurants and top of the list must be Altitude restaurant for an intimate dinner overlooking the harbour and lights of the city. I am not planning on Christmas in the northern hemisphere this year so the next best experience was to celebrate the cooler weather and Christmas in July at the Shangri-la Hotel. I was fortunate to have been invited to a media dinner at Altitude where we were treated to Christmas fare prepared by one of Sydney’s leading chefs. Every year the Shangri-la puts on this special with a winter harvest menu uses seasonal ingredients and combines the subtleties of goose, and pheasant with the aromatic accompaniments of truffles, walnuts and a chestnut broth. A most memorable evening.

Early this month we were invited to a fabulous evening for Electrolux Awards for Excellence 2010. The national winners were announced at this exclusive reception held at the Electrolux Showcase, Sydney, attended by Australia’s leading chefs, restaurateurs and food industry luminaries. The winners received a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience to expand their food and wine skills, learn from some of the world’s best chefs and be inspired by an amazing overseas trip to Europe. Good luck to all the winners, most of whom we met and interviewed on the night.

Great to be working with 2UE who are promoting our gift certificates on their afternoon show. Had lunch with my good friend Glenette Silver from 2UE at Sails Lavender Bay last week to discuss further promotions this year, Sails sure beats the boardroom at work for a business meeting.

Our online booking engine run by Dimmi is powering ahead with nearly 2,000 bookings last month going through our site. It is a big change for people in Australia to make a restaurant booking realtime on the internet, but it is fairly common place in America and Europe to book this way. Great when you want to make a booking for a Saturday night on Saturday morning, no more waiting until the staff arrives at the restaurant late afternoon.

A new initiative at de Groots Media has been our monthly networking corporate luncheons. Every month we invite 20-26 girls and guys from major companies to a well known restaurant for lunch to introduce ourselves and the restaurant to ‘decision makers’ in marketing/events. Last lunch was at Bel Mondo in the Rocks. We will be holding them every couple of weeks, so we are looking forward to the next lunch at Manta on the water at Woolloomooloo Wharf.

Sorry to say goodbye to our food writer Agnes who left recently to work full time on her book. Our new food writer Kate Steinweg is filling in for a few months before she heads off to Oxford University to study English Literature. These girls have very bright futures ahead of them, we are so lucky to have such wonderful intelligent young girls working for us around Australia who are so passionate about our restaurant, food and wine industry.

Maureen de Groot

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