A Moveable Feast is the first of four unique seasonal dining experiences in Sydney during 2016.
With an agenda to ‘showcase the beautiful and diverse city of Sydney, its different facets and its undercurrents’, founder Antoine Bessis has chosen Bondi Beach as the first of the four locations. We caught up with Bessis to find out more about why he has created these beautiful culinary experiences.
Can you tell us about your background and experience in hospitality?
‘I’m originally from the 9th Arrondissement in Paris. I moved to Sydney 20 years ago and have lived in Bondi for nine years. I was raised on French Theatre, Mediterranean food, Monty Python comedy and classic American films. I come from an artistic and Hedonistic French family with Italian and Tunisian background. I started working in restaurants when I was 15 and went on to study at the oldest hotel school in the world, in Lausanne, Switzerland. Since then, I have managed and owned cafés and restaurants and I found a vocation in dreaming and executing large scale dining events’.
How did you come up with the concept for A Moveable Feast? What were your inspirations?
‘I’m a big Hemingway fan – always have been. I have memories of going to this bar in Montparnasse in Paris as a student, actively seeking to drink at the very same spot at the counter where he used to drink in the novel, A Moveable Feast. This book was a big part of my formative years: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast”. This quote has always resonated with me.
‘It sums up what we are trying to do with this event series; to bring a unique and ever-changing blend of great food, wine, music, fashion and convivial fun wherever and whenever each event takes place. And to share this with friends and friends of friends’.
What is your creative process in producing a large scale events such as Diner en Blanc and A Moveable Feast? Where do you draw inspiration?
‘The event location and the season dictate the foundation theme, the dress code and the feel of each event. Then the co-labs drive the creative process, whether it‘s designing the menu, curating the performances or planning the décor. For example, guest chefs will be invited to bring their touch and seasonal interpretation to each AMF event, with the added challenge of designing a menu to be produced and served to hundreds of guests’.
What is the biggest high and the biggest low you have experienced in the lead up to A Moveable Feast?
‘I have not had one nor the other. But when you want to create extraordinary and memorable experiences for people, having to deal with evermore limiting restrictions imposed on events ventures and venues is less than ideal. It feels like driving a sports car with the hand-brake on. Having said that, we are conscious that in the current climate, this is also an opportunity to offer unique experiences that are otherwise limited in Sydney. Wherever we can, we stretch what is permitted within a large scale dining event concept to keep Sydney as open as possible’.
What do you believe are the fundamental elements of a successful dining experience?
‘Bread, butter and Champagne’.
If you could have two dream guests attend A Moveable Feast, who would they be and why?
‘My father because he would have loved the concept. David Grant because I would have loved to hear his feedback and discuss with him how to improve on it’.
What does your ultimate dining experience look like – if anything at all in the world was possible and where would it be located and what kind of food would be served?
‘A long, lazy, noisy brunch with close friends under a pagoda on a beautiful beach somewhere warm and fun. Kids running around. No, wait … no kids. Freshly caught grilled seafood and different types of oysters, cured meats and foie gras, a wagyu rib eye cooked to perfection, anything with truffles, shoe-string fries with home-made Béarnaise sauce, fresh mixed leaves salad with a sharp vinaigrette, French cheese with a crunchy baguette, tropical fruits and an old Bas Armagnac as digestive, a quick swim, then sit down again for dinner. I’m a simple guy’.
What’s next for A Moveable Feast 2016?
‘The next two events we have lined up are a Winter Wonderland indoor extravaganza and a Halloween dinner party in the woods of Centennial Park in October. Then there’s New Years’ Eve, but that will be a surprise so I can’t talk about it just yet’.