Ivy and Noah


Donate Blood

Dear Donor

Reviews by Tiff

Subscribe Follow me on Twitter

watch this space

The Five Chefs Dinner.



We drive into the city -


the parents of a  small girl who just left the hospital again,

hours before,

after falling acutely ill quite quickly during the week,

the parents of a small girl who received a most amazing wish.


the parents of six others,

in various states of happiness on our departure

but who are now safely tucked up with their grandmother, watching a DVD and thinking about bed.

I wasn’t sure we’d make it

but here we are,

stepping out of our opened car doors into the Four Seasons Hotel to attend Starlight’s Five Chef’s dinner.

My hair and make-up  have been styled by my friend at Barberella’s

and I’ve found my way  into a beautiful dress.

I’m nervous

and excited,


and humbled all at once,

as we walk into a sea of people who are arriving for the festivities.

I feel like the girliest of girls.

David looks very handsome tonight, in his black suit, vest and a silvery tie

and I can’t remember the last time we were dressed up like this.

I feel like we are in some kind of dream -

floating somehow.

We’ve been given a room key and a parcel, which once opened,

is a beautiful memory

and a reminder that we helped to make a difference to others in our own small way.

I love it -

my hands shake as I hold it up into the light to see my daughter’s face, smiling back at me.

The view from our room is spectacular and in some poetic twist

overlooks the harbour

and the very same Opera House that staged Ivy’s wish.

In the foyer there are people everywhere

and familiar purple, yellow and silver uniforms.

We are introduced to many

and handed champagne.

David, who has eaten little, downs two flutes and suddenly becomes very, very talkative

and I am thankful when someone leads us to our table.

The room is amazing, with dark walls

and fairy lights

and soft violet hues.

In the middle of each table are flickering tea lights in vellum covered cubes.

A photo of the girl is printed onto one side.

She’s there on the menu and on the program too

and I am so proud to see her there.

We are seated with another Starlight Family and some others -

Starlight friends mostly,

the auctioneer

and Catriona Rowntree, who is hosting the night.

I’m a little star struck.

The room is full with almost five hundred seated around tables

and the amazing people who are co-ordinating the event.

They are efficient and brilliant.

There are some of the Starlight Captains here too -

three are ours;

they hug me tightly when we meet and calm my nerves.

They joke and laugh with me

and I begin to relax.

Everyone is very friendly

and many people come to talk of our girl.

They say she is an inspiration

and I feel overjoyed and overwhelmed.

We are welcomed to the dinner like old friends.

Announcements are made and then the first course is served.

It is thinly sliced calimari, marinated in lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, with poppy seeds, salmon caviar and sea urchin gelato

created by Armondo Percuoco and Jonathan Barthelmess.

My mouth explodes with flavour.

Armondo is the founding chef of these dinners, which has become a major fundraiser for Starlight.

Coincidentally, he also has a small property in Wollombi, which is very close to home

and the wine that has been matched is a Semillion from Marsh Estate in Pokolbin, which is in our local area too.

It is a wonderful way to begin our meal.

While we eat a silent auction is started and numbers quickly flick up onto a large screen as people bid

and are then out bid.

Almost everything has been donated tonight and there are some wonderful things available.

Dave and I are amazed as the numbers climb.

He leans over and whispers into my ear (he is very tipsy by now) that there are four hundred and ninety  wealthy people here

and then there is us.

I’m not sure how I feel about that thought, just yet – insufficient, maybe.

We play a game of  ”guess the wine”.

David loses because he has had way too much of it already

and I lose because I know nothing about wine at all.

I have a fleeting thought that if my father were here, he would win

but in the end it doesn’t matter.

The auctioneer is brilliant with his words

and the whole room is jovial, no matter what happens.

Tetsuya Wakuda and James Viles present their dish of Petuna ocean trout, garden brasscias, cured pork loin, sea flora with fried bone juices next.

I’m not exactly sure what I am eating

but it is delicious and light and the mystery vegetables are so crisp that I feel them pop in my mouth.

We hear from Terry, who tells of his daughter’s journey  - it is both sad and empowering

and from Louise Baxter, who is Starlight’s CEO.

She introduces us to Jay Dohnt, who lost his legs and fingers to meningococcal disease but after having his wish granted

found his love for water and went on to become a bronze medalist in the 2008 Paralympics.

She is teary.

I am too.

It reminds me how resilient and amazing these kids of ours are.

The live auction has started.

People are bidding thousands of dollars, sometimes out bidding themselves

and suddenly I get it.

These  beautiful people are giving Starlight opportunities to support hospitalised children.

They don’t necessarily want the goods for auction but they want to donate -

they want to help

and the goodness of humanity is all around me.

It’s with the friends who work hard every day to make this foundation what it is,

it’s with the Captains,

it’s with the chefs, the hospitality crew, the people who have given their time or their livelyhood,

it’s with the guests who are in this room, who love this cause, who want to make the world a better place

and I am happy being here with all of these people, wealthy or not

because we are all here for the same reason.

I sit with that for a while before the third course comes out

and I watch Dave talk about his baby girl with a new found friend,

with a mixture of sadness and pride.

Dinner is far from over and third course has been created by one of my favourite chefs – Maggie Beer,

with Hamish Ingham.

It is quite simply divine.

Rabbit, prune, pancetta and parsley root.

It’s my favourite dish of the night.

Jessica Mauboy is on the stage singing when the forth course is served.

It has been created by Brent Savage and Ross Lusted

and is a mouth watering slow cooked beef cheek with smoked milk pudding, artichokes and carrots cooked in ash.

The auction continues.

One Direction tickets (Ivy’s current favourite band) sell for a massive $22,000

and  then Ivy’s story is on the big screen.

It is very emotional watching our own journey on this unbelievable night

and I hold onto one of our Captain’s hands tightly as we and hundreds of others see how Starlight has made a difference to our family.

It’s hard to describe all of the emotions that run through my head and my heart.

Mostly, I am thankful.

The fifth and final course arrives.

Made by another favourite chef –  Adriano Zumbo with Yves Scherrer,

I’m not exactly sure what a Shoshana with milk couverture, pear, saffron and hazelnut is

but it looks amazing and tastes better than any descriptive word I can think of.

At the end of the night a staggering amount of money raised is announced

and we thank the chefs for their work, for their love of Starlight.

In true Captain style, each chef is presented with a bunch of balloon flowers

and the night is complete.

Dave and I are so very grateful and when we escape to our room at midnight

we are both exhausted but exhilarated as well.

Sleep comes quickly but then eludes me a few hours later.

I think about the night and the generosity of people

and miss my kids

as I watch the sun rise over the Opera House.

It has all been such a wonderful experience.

As we leave the next day we meet a pianist called Michael.

He asks us our purpose for being in the city.

When we tell him, he excitedly explains that his daughter was a wish granter for Starlight many years ago.

We talk about Ivy’s wish.

As our car rolls into the circled driveway he pulls from his memory and plays perfectly

“The Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy”

and dedicates it to the small girl without knowing that it is from her favourite ballet

and I am reminded again

that we are all connected some way in this world.








Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Netvouz
  • DZone
  • ThisNext
  • MisterWong
  • Wists

22 Responses to “The Five Chefs Dinner.”

  • rachel:

    i cant write the way i feel reading this tiff…… i giggled n i cried…… so amazing, so overwhelming.. truly happy you got this moment.. love you x

  • Trish (42 comments.):

    A magical night for some very special parents of a very special girl.

  • SassyCupcakes:

    What an amazing evening. You look so muck like your girls in the first photo, and all of them are a stunningly beautiful record of what must have been an incredible experience. As much as I wish Ivy was a perfectly happy little girl, it’s so wonderful that she’s able to promote & inspire such an important cause to soo many people.

  • Megan:

    And again I cant say enough that you should write a book… just put all your posts together, along with the divine photos. I have tears, what a special night for you and Dave, Im SO glad you got to go… you’ve provided a stunning account of the night, and Im so happy so much money was raised for such a wonderful cause. And Im SO proud to see Ivy being a “star” of the night, even though we’re only virtual friends, it feels like alot more and I do feel alot of love and pride about all of you, lots of love xxxxx

  • Dianne Nunn (24 comments.):

    what a beautifal post Tiff. Thanks again for sharing with us. The menu seems to be amazing and delicious. You look gorgeous – and David too.

  • Mary:

    I love this memory :)

  • Glowless (53 comments.):

    Simply magical x

  • Lucy:

    Beautiful. All of it. X

  • Dianne:

    Wow what a special night, so glad you and David got to experience it. The food looked amazing. Wonderful memories for you.

  • Lisa Gleeson (6 comments.):

    That was a beautiful blog entry, a beautiful night and you looked beautiful as well. Thank you for sharing :) .

  • janet:

    Wow! That was so beautiful.

  • tricia (169 comments.):

    Simply amazing! Your retelling gave me goose bumps. And… You are truly beautiful. That was my first thought when seeing the photo of you and Dave, quickly followed by the thought that you are a lovely couple. ;)

  • Deb:

    I loved reading this! Amazing night for amazing people.

  • Mum:

    Beautifully written! The emotions, along with your great photos, are all here in this amazing post of a wonderful evening shared with caring benefactors for this very worthwhile and delightful charity.

    The signature chefs’ dishes looked very inviting and the presentation of Ivy’s story must have made you & Dave feel very special.

    You both looked very chic and so obviously enjoyed your well deserved invitation to hob nob with the rich and famous.

    So happy that you both could share this short but delightful respite from the usual turmoil that is so often a part of your life. xoxo

  • Super Sarah:

    What a beautiful post! Your gorgeous photos really tell the story, I am so happy you were a part of it, thank you so much for sharing!

  • Bri:

    It reads like a fairy tale. Wonderful. I am so happy you got to have a grand and lovely night with your Beloved.

  • Kate (4 comments.):

    Oh Tiff and Dave – reading this has me all teary. Beautifully written. Great pictures. Gorgeous.

  • Jennette:

    What a beautiful entry. Tiff you have a way with expression. Your words, your photos, your layout….I WAS THERE in spirit (after the fact) thanks to your talents.

    And by gosh how beautifully you scrubbed up ;) Dave too!

  • Renae (17 comments.):

    You look so beautiful, I jut LOVED your hair! Ivy is the spitting image of you, I had not really noticed it before.

  • Achelois (7 comments.):

    I echo all that everyone has said. This post is inspiring, uplifting, magical, incredibly talented writing with photography that is just awesome. This is the best blog post I have ever had the privilege to read. Thank you.

  • Krista (60 comments.):

    Oh, this made me cry! What a wonderful night with wonderful people (you included) to support a wonderful organization. We have the Make A Wish foundation here, but I don’t think they have the local captains like you do there. Not in any organized way. Truly lovely, and thank you for sharing!

  • Melissa Mitchell (42 comments.):

    That last bit actually made me cry. I’m so glad you had this night, it sounds amazing and you looked so beautiful- Dave was so handsome too. (I do love a man in a suit – Joel wears one every week and it still gets me every time}.

Leave a Reply