February 1, 2017
catering for CHANGE
Brent Colautti and Sam Cook are two mates from high school who are aiming to lift the gourmet game on the Sunshine Coast, by providing luxe weddings and events capital cities have become accustomed to – while showcasing beautiful bounties of local produce.
By the romantic glow of candles and fairy lights, generous servings of cider braised pork shoulder with anise dusted pork skin crisps, honey roasted heirloom root vegetables, granny smith apple, fennel and tuscan kale slaw with walnuts and confit garlic aioli; and other delicious offerings fill the centre of the long table, where strangers come together as friends to dine in fine fashion under the stars in a secret Sunshine Coast location.
Sitting at opposite ends of the table are Brent Colautti and Sam Cook, two mates from Immanuel Lutheran College who, now in their 30s, have taken their friendship to new business heights to create delicious experiences such as the recent Into the Woods and Into the Night events.
“My background is mainly in wine trade, I studied wine science and worked in vineyards and wineries for years before moving to London where I worked in retail and wholesale,” says Sam.
“Then I came back to Melbourne and did the same thing there, where I found that working in the wine industry interconnects with food, hospitality and lots of events.”
But a phone call from Brent proposing a business opportunity brought Sam back home to the Sunshine Coast and sent him on a new trajectory.
Brent, who has spent most of his time managing bars and events, also travelled overseas to Europe, where he and Sam spent time travelling and working in the hospitality industry, before Brent moved back to the Sunshine Coast to complement his experience with formalised study.
“I then started a business in Caloundra with a friend of mine and fell into the game and realised I wanted something more for myself and took a year off, played around with some ideas and came up with the concept of a commercial kitchen and bar on wheels. Food trucks were going really well overseas, I love festivals, I love event management – I could tie it all into one.
“Within a couple of weeks we did Woodford Folk Festival and I realised this was hard work, you have no idea what to expect, no scope of what money you are or aren’t going to make, so we started throwing some ideas around. Then we got a couple of enquiries for weddings off the back of serving restaurant-quality food at the festival and after the first wedding we said, ‘This could work’.”
Their catering company then evolved into a second venture for the boys with the addition of Drew Cantle, in a restaurant in Mooloolaba.
“Over the last two years we’ve evolved organically, we enjoy the market we are in and from a business perspective that makes working 80-hour weeks worthwhile,” Sam says.
“I love the off-site catering because we’re in different locations every week, we’re working with different people every week, and because of the service and flexibility we offer around menus and formats, no two jobs are the same, we’re always working with different produce, different ingredients. I love weddings and I get to go to at least one wedding a week, so I just find it fun.”
“No matter how hard we work, no matter how stressed out we are, we still really enjoy it,” Brent adds.
“I don’t ever wake up thinking I’ve got to go to work. It’s been something I’ve dreamt about since I was 20 and finally it came to fruition a couple of years ago and it’s pretty awesome to set that goal 10-15 years ago to then achieve it, and then realise you actually really love it. What motivates me too is that there’s a lot of unfinished business.”
Along with weddings, corporate events and special occasions, Brent and Sam also hosted two uber stylish foodie events last year – Into the Night at Maleny Retreat and Into the Woods at Forest Sanctuary Venue, where local wedding vendors came together to showcase their talent.
These events, which Sam and Brent hope to host more of in the near future, are a feast for the senses, none more so than taste, which is a credit to their executive chef Sam Maloney, who boasts unsurmountable experience and skill, having worked in top notch restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne.
“We’re constantly changing the menu based on feedback and making sure it’s seasonal,” Sam says.
I love the off-site catering because we’re in different locations every week, we’re working with different people every week… no two jobs are the same.”
“People wanted really simple food using the best possible produce cooked well, 90 per cent of what we do is sourcing really good produce, keeping it fresh, modern coastal cuisine, local where we can, presented well, and it hits people, foodies are happy, people who aren’t so into food are happy as well, and we try and make it different and fun and interesting to look at.”
The innovation also comes from their restaurant head chef, Stephane Giono, who hails from Europe where he worked at Michelin star restaurants.
“The menu we put forward might look more simplistic than what we would like to cook, but the reason it’s so good is we’ve got talented chefs working with simple food to make it really sing,” says Brent.
And complementing these gourmet offerings is Sam’s boutique wine label.
“Wine and food are very much intertwined – one without the other wouldn’t seem right,” Sam says.
“Being in wine I’ve always eaten everywhere and anywhere and for me coming into this side of things, being involved in the kitchen and menu development is something I’ve really enjoyed because I can’t make as much wine as I’d like at the moment, but I get to play around with chefs and it’s that creative aspect that keeps me interested.”
In case they don’t have enough on their plate, this dynamic duo also has some pretty big business decisions on the horizon.
“We’re looking at opening a wedding venue, so that’s our next idea, and that may come sooner rather than later,” Brent says, taking a sip of his coffee.
“It’s a pretty exciting 2017 coming up!”
What does love mean to you?
Brent: Love is trust, comfort and happiness.
What do you love about the wedding industry?
Brent: Seeing the excitement on recently engaged couple’s faces, seeing the happiness of the same couple on the day and then getting a hug or a handshake at the end of their special day to say you helped make it the best of their life.