Wagga’s largest outdoor dinner party, positioned under the stars on the iconic Wollundry Lagoon Bridge, was a roaring success.
Richard Moffatt of restaurant Pastorale hosted 160 people at the Pastorale Dinner Party on 27 October for a four-course set menu to showcase local produce and promote Wagga as a foodie destination.
“It was a great success. It went better than we anticipated for our first time doing such a thing,” Richard said.
“It was a learning curve and a big job to take an a la carte restaurant offsite and do it elsewhere.
“We couldn’t have asked for better weather, and the whole night went according to plan, and the feedback we’ve received from our guests post the night has been fantastic.”
The guests were served produce from Coolamon Cheese, Wollundry Grove Olives, Mandole Orchard, GooDoo Farms, Gundagai Lamb, Mates Gully, Full Circle Coffee Roasters and Riverina Fresh.
The guests had drinks from Borambola Wines, Courabyra Wines, Johansen Wines, CSU Wines, Nugan Estate, Riverina Gin, Horse Tail Gin, Corowa Whisky and Tumut River Brewery.
The guests arrived around 5:30 pm and enjoyed an hour of drinks and canapes on the bridge.
Around 7 pm the Leeton Pipe Band played for the guests, marching from the Victory Memorial Gardens to the bridge.
“They marched through the crowd and played a couple of sets, which set the mood for the first course to come out,” Richard said.
“Until 9 pm, our guests dined on a four-course degustation dinner supported by all the local wineries and breweries … the food and drinks were flowing, and everyone was happy.
“Post 9 pm, the music was that good; everyone danced on the bridge until we closed around 10:30 pm.
“Once the dinner and the formalities were done, the guests wanted to stay. It was a jovial atmosphere.”
With the roaring success of the inaugural dinner party, Richard plans to host it as a yearly event.
“We’ll definitely do it again. It was a lot of work … we’re only one small business, and we don’t have the amount of staff the [Wagga Wagga City] Council has or the amount of funds [of] some of our big corporate guys here,” Richard said.
“We’re a small team, and we had volunteers, including my family and my wife’s family.
“It was a grassroots event we wanted to pull off to showcase Wagga and our regional producers.”
Richard hopes to have 250 guests at next year’s event and is open to other locations.
“With the feedback we’re getting, our guests will be attending again and bringing friends,” Richard said.
“The location was tricky. Putting in road closures was a lot of logistics and expense.
“I would be open to other locations, but the bridge is a historic icon of Wagga and is beautiful.”
The event organiser also hopes to take his fine dining experience to other regional towns that don’t have fine dining venues.
“We could take our fine dining venue to give the community the experience while supporting their local producers,” Richard said.
“There’s a good concept there for regional NSW.”
Richard was proud of the work accomplished by his small team.
“Most of our hospitality team are young kids either at school or at university. They dug deep … they were there from 10 am until pack-up.”
“I was focused on ensuring we lived up to our fine dining reputation, and I was adamant the service and attention to detail had to be perfect on the night.
“Our staff well and truly delivered it. I’m incredibly proud of our team.”