Editor’s Note: We sent Melbourne Ambassador Susan Young to a secret ladies’ underground dining experience, and she’s hooked.
On a very wet and miserable Melbourne afternoon, I knew it was time to read the instructions emailed to me the night before and get myself ready to go out on a mysterious adventure. Going it alone to social and networking functions usually leaves me with a sense of acute overwhelm and dread. Feeling trepidation, I decided to embrace the new, be bold and brave, get over myself and get on out there.
A carefully crafted and curated event was to unfold before me as I ventured into Gallerysmith in North Melbourne, a beautiful space and a particularly unusual setting for dinner.
The invitation asked us to arrive at 7:30pm sharp; ladies were welcomed by a glass of champagne and a friendly, smiling Gianna Wurlz, the brainchild behind the event. A beautiful woman with definite presence, she is able to instantly make you feel at ease and at home, which must be one of the reasons the other guests were so charming and such fabulous company.
Gianna hales from L.A where underground dining became the rage in 2011. Gianna had been dreaming of emulating something similar here in Melbourne for women only to attend. Taking a leap of faith, Gianna made the decision to “just do it” and see the vision she had get off the ground.
This was no ordinary evening of networking with fabulous women. It’s a cleverly designed event where you meet new people and have the opportunity to dine in an unusual location (how fortunate Gianna met Marita Smith, owner and director of Gallerysmith who kindly donated the space for the evening). There was no contrived feeling of “I’m networking, I have to pass out my business card”, rather a more informal intimate evening, almost like old-friends catching up. No pressure, all welcoming and every woman there, interested in knowing who you are.
Then of course there is the food and wine. A beautiful menu lay on the table before us and Ravi Presser (of Fonda Mexican) introduced us to each course and also invited us to smell ingredients, discover flavours and to really understand what went into each course. Together the table discussed and shared their thoughts; the conversations were free flowing (along with the wine). Gianna happened to remark that perhaps Ravi constructed the menu particularly for women, to which we all agreed; the food was beautiful and clean with amazing flavours and textures and we were all able to get through 7 courses without having to worry about loosening our belts.
This small intimate group of 14 left me with a sense of comfort rather than overwhelm. Shyness eradicated as food and art are beautiful conversation starters. Les Femmes Forum is an easy introduction to new acquaintances, where new friendships are formed, alliances made and a unique and wonderful experience will long be remembered. No more trepidation, but excitement and wonder of where, when and who will be attending the next Les Femmes Forum.
I, for one, am in!
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