Words and Pics by Ian Neubauer
In what will be remembered as one of the most bizarre product launches of 2009, Jeff Fenech hosted the launch of his own wine range at a Chinese restaurant in Sydney last week.
Fenech is part-owner of a popular range of wine produced by Stuart Wines at vineyards in Heathcote and the Yarra Valley. The range has been available since 2002 but held its official launch last Tuesday (Jun 17) to mark Fenech’s involvement.
The event was held at the China Grand Restaurant at Sydney’s Chinatown and comprised an eight-course sit down meal provided gratis by the owners.
The host with the most, Jeff Fenech, strikes a pose
with Chk Chk Boom at Stuart Wines official launch in
Sydney’s Chinatown last week
Guests included scores of journalists who received last minute e-mail invitations to put bums on seats, a number of young families, and a cacophony of D-grade celebrities and former sportspeople marshalled in by media-hungry media manager Max Marxson.
“For all you people who are here tonight, it’s great to see everyone here enjoying themselves … the wine that has brought us all together … and a special thanks to someone who is better at doing this than anyone else, and that is Max Marson, thank you Max,” Fenech said to the crowd.
“On behalf of Stuart wines and Beach Avenue Wholesalers I thank them and you too Eddie (of China Grand). It’s very rare that you can go somewhere that does the best of the best food and also drink great wine. I spoke to Eddie a few weeks ago about my wine and it’s good to see everyone enjoying it. You usually go to functions and what you’re given to drink is vinegar so you don’t drink too much of it, but hopefully tonight everyone is going to have a good time and I hope you got someone to drive you home safely. So enjoy your food and wine.
“It’s great to be here and mixing with you. The wine is form Stuart wines in the Yarra Valley and the Heathcote region. If anyone wants any, Beach Avenue Wholesalers are the distributors here, but forget that now. I just want you to have a great time, enjoy the food and wine, thank you everyone, thank you Max, and Eddie. I hope you got plenty of food. Shortly we will be doing karaoke,” he said.
With Fenech’s speech out of the way, the floor was opened to waiters who literally threw fatty duck pancakes, oily stir fry chicken and plates heaped with kilograms of Mongolian beef onto lazy susans. Water was also sloshed into glasses for those who were not inclined to drink their body weight in wine.
Entertainment comprised a number of karaoke hits belted out by the likes of Miss Australia 2008 Laura Dundovic, who sang an ear-splitting rendition of Grease Lighting; and Clare Werbeloff, Ms Chk Chk Boom, who terrorised guests with Oh What a Night as her mother, donning a Kim perm-doo, looked on appraisingly from behind a lady susan.
It may have been corny and it may have been over the top. The food may have been oily and the host may have gotten sloshed.
But it was a great deal more fun than just about every other stuffy, vinegar-laden launch held in Sydney this year, and will long be remembered by those who turned up for a free meal or was convinced to turn up by their media manager for another 15-seconds of fame.
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