Plaza Ballroom

With glistening crystal chandeliers, Juliette balconies and hand-made Italian leather chairs, the Plaza Ballroom in the Regent Theatre embodies style and glamour.

 

The foyer, with its glorious Spanish Rococo design (including fountain), is where we caught up with David Ricardo, Executive Chef Marriner Group, and Gareth Wisneski, Head Chef Plaza Ballroom, for a chat about this iconic venue which has hosted some of Melbourne’s most prestigious events during the last 20 years.

 

How old were you when you became interested in cooking? Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?

David:
Although I studied commercial finance, I soon realised that cooking was my passion!

I spent my childhood alongside mum in the kitchen, standing on a kitchen chair stirring saucepans with a wooden spoon. My love of food, and cooking, stems from those memories.

My professional career began in 1998, working at a busy café in Prahran, but it wasn’t until years later when I started at Pearl Restaurant that a love of fi ne dining was born.

Gareth:
My grandmother taught me as a young lad growing up in New Zealand. Cooking fresh produce was a way of life for me during my childhood.

 

Welcome to the Plaza Ballroom
Melbourne flavour at the Plaza Ballroom!

 

How long have you worked together?

David:
When I joined the Marriner Group in 2015. Gareth had already been here for several years, and it was a well-run ship.

Gareth:
I have worked for the Marriner Group, primarily the Plaza Ballroom, for more than eight years. Both of us have a strong passion for delivering restaurant quality food on a grand scale and we like to push the boundaries as far as we can!

How essential is teamwork in the smooth running of an operation of this size?

Gareth:
In any kitchen, it’s critical. It is a significant part of running a venue like this and we have a great team here.

David:
Teamwork is at the core of the Marriner Group’s ethos and is the driver of every function in each venue (all working theatres); from lighting and sound to the kitchen. Kayely Marriner, Director and Chief Financial Officer, is all about creating a unique experience for the customer. We can only achieve this with a great team.

Do current food trends influence your menus?

David:
The individuality of this venue determines the style of events we host and the food we serve. We want every guest to experience a little bit of theatre magic!

The unique position and surroundings of the Plaza Ballroom enable us to be creative with our menus. We source as much local produce as we can and promote a strong message of sustainability through all we offer.

What do you want clients to take away from their Plaza experience?

David:
A totally engaging and unique experience! The Plaza Ballroom has a touch of classical Hollywood about it, and we have added a big dose of Melbourne flavour into the mix!

Why have you chosen Dudson Evo for the Plaza Ballroom?

David:
We looked at every plate on the market and even some that weren’t available!

It took two years of research, but we always seemed to come back to the original Evo samples. There’s nothing like it for looks and durability.

We knew how much abuse these plates would go through – night after night, year on year, so the lifetime edge chip warranty was the icing on the cake. But it was the beautiful clean lines and matte glaze of the Evo plates that gave us the canvas we were looking for to showcase our food.