Rosebud is home to a very innovative business, Chez Lulu, providing cooking demonstrations to show guests how to prepare delicious, internationally inspired food – all against a backdrop of live music.
Husband and wife team, Louis Quirin and Louise Poledník began Chez Lulu in 2011, inspired by the need to fill a niche they felt was lacking in the food market on the Peninsula – the marriage between food and entertainment that wasn’t ‘parma’ and pub rock.
Louis, of Mauritian background, was raised with an eclectic mix of tastes from the island’s diverse culinary influences. He trained in Melbourne and can trace his gastronomic roots back to his grandfather who was a chef in the army serving in Africa. Specialising in fusion cooking, Louis combines the best elements from Australia with Asian and European inspiration to produce innovative and contemporary dishes.
Louise too grew up in a passionate cooking household with an English mother and Czech father. The family business was one of the few continental butchers and delicatessens in England providing a point of difference when the Great British Menu didn’t go much beyond “meat and two veg”. Louise said, “Not only was my father a Master butcher, but as a former chef he had a deep appreciation for food provenance and a produce to platter concept. Mum was also a great cook and excelled at baking.”
Louise retrained in the nineties to become a Business Psychologist. As an international consultant for several years she has advised many blue chip, global organisations on people strategies and management practices that maximize performance and competitive advantage, both in Australia and beyond. Chez LuLu has allowed her to return to her first love; combining her knowledge of adult learning with a passion for educating and encouraging people to enjoy food and experiment in the kitchen. All guests take home a booklet with the recipes from the evening.
Situated on the couple’s beautiful Rosebud property, they divide the daily tasks between them. Louis is responsible for day to day operations, sales and marketing, and they share all aspects of the food preparation, cooking demonstrations and menu development.
Chez Lulu creates themed events, with a menu combining the live music with culture specific, as well as fusion cuisines. Regular bookings are for a minimum of six people but larger, group bookings of 15 to 20 people can select the theme of their choice. Exclusive parties for special birthdays, anniversaries, and corporate team building events that draw on her expertise as a psychologist are also welcomed.
Guests are greeted on arrival with either a glass of local sparkling wine or soft drink and invited to share an antipasto platter with a selection of locally sourced and homemade charcuterie and accompaniments. Louis and Louise then demonstrate how to cook the first course. Each guest is then served a portion to enjoy with a carefully selected wine. They are then entertained in a lounge area in the winter months or outside in a beautiful decked area in the summer by local musicians, in keeping with the cooking theme. Main courses and desserts follow a similar pattern, with the couple engaging with their guests throughout, sharing sourcing, cooking and local eating tips. Chez Lulu deliberately avoids the “professional stainless steel kitchen” set up and, instead, caters for the enthusiastic and knowledgeable amateur foodies that flock to the Peninsula. The relaxed environment encourages people to ask questions and learn about food, so that they can replicate the dishes at home.
Louis and Louise both love Peninsula life and source local produce wherever possible, including a popular feature of their antipasto – wood-smoked salmon from Red Hill Gourmet Meats Country Smokehouse. “All our meat comes from Mount Eliza Meats. Kevin is a great traditional butcher,” said Louis, and as a butcher’s daughter herself, Louise should know! She added, “Tony and Theo of Mornington Seafoods source the best local fish and seafood for us, and Ranga’s Bakery in McCrae produces a fantastic range of artisan bread.’
The wines most recently have come from the Eldridge Estate, Miceli Winery, and Blue Range Estate to help make the food ”sing”. Louis is also a keen gardener, so many of the herbs they use are grown in their own kitchen garden. The Chez Lulu values are evident in all that this couple does. “We consider that the food we eat links us to our families, friends and culture. We share with our guests the much loved recipes from our own heritage and travels, drawing on a Mauritian and Czech background with a hint of Mediterranean and Asian Fusion flair,”