Melbourne Cup 2015: Marquees get the party started for four-day carnival

It’s like Disneyland for adults and you will need Willy Wonka’s golden ticket to gain entry.

That’s the Birdcage, the VIP exclusion zone in Flemington with invitation-only access to Mumm champagne and fancy bites to celebrate the Melbourne Cup.

Marquees that take months to build for a four-day party have been stocked with satisfying necessities. In this off-track competition, if elaborate tents had an ego they would taunt each other with “my house is bigger and better than your house”.

Royal guards get their groove on in the
Emirates marquee.

With 10,000 bottles of Mumm champagne to be consumed, it’s the race that pops the nation. Here is what you will find in Millionaires’ Row.


The English-themed Emirates marquee borrows its design from the Marble Hill villa and features a sit-down restaurant, an outdoor terrace with green turf and a pamper room called “The Sanctuary”. The most popular room in the house is the bathroom with “fully equipped flushing toilets”.

An assortment of delicacies available in
the Emirates marquee.

Adorned with Wedgwood and Royal Doulton fine china, three chandeliers sparkle over the custom-made carpet and wallpaper decorated with David Austin English rose.

The serene atmosphere is broken up by a row of stationary royal guards breaking into dance to the Spice Girls song Wannabe. On the subject of spice, the menu features Lancashire hotpot, fish pie and Eton mess.

Guests: Lady Kitty Spencer, Stephen Jones, Millie Mackintosh.

Ben Shewry in his Attica restaurant in the
Lexus marquee.


The department store has dived into spring with a “Super Botanica” theme brimming with flowers, fruit and vines. For peckish tummies, there’s “The Botanist’s Table”, a seven-metre copper table with seats offering nectars, ginger cocktails, sashimi, raw kale salad “assemblages” and oyster bar with three Australian varieties.

Model Kris Smith said the “dining experience” offered healthy choices and for something naughty, the Bibelot gelato cart served his favourite flavour, pistachio. “That’s where you’ll find me if I go missing,” Mr Smith said.

Chef Dan Hong will fix rumbling tummies
with his chicken katsu bahn mi in the
Lexus marquee.

Guests: Jennifer Hawkins, Kris Smith,  Lauren Phillips, Rachael Finch, Kate Peck,  Alex Perry, Toni Maticevski.


The Birdcage raises the sophistication level when the Lexus Design Pavilion does a “reveal” of the exterior and under a huge white sheet is the next wondrous installation of environmental artist Joost.

Mumm champagne and caviar are a
spring racing luxury.

“The Nest” covering the structure used 100 kilometres of recycled wire and took more than 4000 hours to create. The pavilion was installed in July to get a start on the artistry.

Lexus has an upstairs/downstairs dining option. Upstairs, Attica restaurant by Ben Shewry​ features his crispy crab and saltbush lamb. Feeding famished race-goers is a different pace to a night of Attica theatre. “It’s not like the pressure at Attica,” Mr Shewry said. “We have a very short menu here.”

At Lexus, he serves 44 customers a four-course meal in four sittings. At Attica, 60 people are mesmerised by 21 courses.

Chef Shane Delia with his Biggie Smalls
pretzels in the Austereo marquee.

Downstairs at Lexus, anyone who has imbibed one flute too many will be immensely satisfied with the offerings of chef Dan Hong: cheeseburger spring rolls and chicken katsu bahn mi.

Guests: Emma Freedman, Francesca Packer Barham, Karl Stefanovic, Richard Wilkins.

Melbourne Cup 2015 Marquee Preview
Photographer Eddie Jim and journalist
Suzanne Carbone take a look at today’s
preview of Emirates, Myer, Lexus, Swisse,
Mumm and other marquees ahead of the
2015 Melbourne Cup next Tuesday.

Words by Suzanne Carbone
Pictures by Eddie Jim
Originally posted on The Age 30 October 2015