Alpine Observer - North East Regional Extra
From Spain to Buckland Valley
WHEN Viv Andersen and Chris Davey met in Spain and decided to make a home together in Australia, Viv had just one stipulation: we must be near the sea and somewhere warm and tropical.
Naturally, the Buckland Valley in Victoria’s High Country ticked all the boxes and went straight to the top of the list.
“We originally thought we’d live in Western Australia - somewhere warm and by the sea,” Viv said.
“But we came through Bright on our way to Queensland and fell in love with the property in the Buckland Valley.
“The mountains, the river and the nearby snow fields, we loved it all and the horse riding tracks were a real bonus.”
Chris had trained as a chef at the Hilton in Melbourne, visiting the North East with his family as a child.
Once he gained his qualifications, he worked all over the country in large resorts and restaurants before heading off to sea.
Chris spent time on game fishing boats, small cruise ships and finally a large, privately-owned motor yacht which saw him cruising the Caribbean and Mediterranean.
When he and his multi-billionaire boss docked their boat in southern Spain, Chris met Viv.
Originally from Denmark, Viv had moved to Spain in her early 20s to pursue a career in real estate and when she met Chris, she was running her own real estate business.
Then came the conversation about where they should live as they embarked on a life together.
Having fallen in love with the Buckland Valley, Chris and Viv purchased a property which they opened as a bed and breakfast with a twist.
“It was called Dinner and Doona as we catered dinner for our guests as well,” Viv explained.
“To supplement the income, we decided to start a mobile catering business providing office lunch platters for just 10 people and from those humble beginnings, Straight From the Ovens Catering was born.
“The business grew and Chris’ reputation for providing quality meals for large groups of up to 450 guests was established.”
The past 21 years have seen Chris, Viv and their staff cater weddings, birthdays, funerals, graduations and sporting and corporate events right across the North East, and in some pretty interesting places.
“We catered a wedding at the top of Mount Buffalo once where the bride wore a ski jacket over her dress,” Viv laughed.
“Weddings are always the most memorable to cater for as you are part of such a happy family occasion.
“We have also catered at the trout farm, in people’s homes, in apple sheds, cattle sheds, in paddocks, at wineries and other magnificent wedding venues, at tea plantations, caravan parks, golf clubs, bowls clubs, football clubs and historic halls.
“It’s been a very varied, interesting job and we’ve met some amazing people,” Chris said.
“If we had spent the last 21 years working in the same restaurant kitchen the whole time we wouldn’t have lasted so long in the hospitality industry - we have loved the variation and challenge of mobile catering.”
When Chris and Viv came to start a family, their business adapted to the change.
“Most of the cooking preparations are done at home during the day, so we have been here when the girls get back from school and we have been able to spend Christmas and school holidays together as a family,” Chris said.
Although Chris and Viv are putting their beloved business up for sale, they will not be completely disappearing from the world of cooking.
“We have another business where Chris makes plum puddings and fruit cakes and we also supply corporate gift hampers in collaboration with other small regional producers through Alpine Valleys Fine Foods, so we can’t fully retire just yet,” Viv said.
“We would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the North East community for letting us be part of your special occasions and trusting us to cater your events over the past two decades,” Chris said.
“It has been amazing to be involved with all these family milestones, but now it’s time for us to retire and let someone else be part of those special times.”
“We would also like to give a huge thanks to all the fabulous staff we’ve had over the years, some of whom worked at the first wedding we catered 20 years ago and who will be working at the last one too,” Viv added.
For further information about the business, see the Business For Sale advertisement in the Wangaratta Chronicle, Myrtleford Times, Alpine Observer and Ovens & Murray Advertiser classifieds section.