On May 23, New York's award-winning restaurant Chinese Tuxedo comes to Melbourne for a night of culinary feasting as hosts of charity night, The Bloody Good Dinner. They'll also bring some of our leading Aussies home for a bloody good cause.
The fundraising event is a collaborative partnership between the Snowdome Foundation and Maddie Riewoldt's Vision to raise money for research into finding new treatments for bone marrow failure.
Food for the soul
The restaurateurs behind Chinese Tuxedo, Eddy Buckingham and his chef Paul Donnelly, are coming back for a whirlwind trip bringing excellence to the table.
"We've spent most of our careers in Melbourne so when this opportunity came up we couldn't say no," says Buckingham, who has been living in New York for almost 10 years and used to own The Liberty in Manhattan.
"Coming back for this excellent fundraiser was not just a chance to come home and show the locals what we're doing with Chinese food in New York, but to get behind a good cause because we've all been touched by cancer," he says.
A world of flavours
A New York Times restaurant critic gave Chinese Tuxedo a rare Critic's Pick in February last year. Buckingham is chuffed of course, and together with his business partner Jeff Lam have changed the way locals think about Chinese food.
"New York is a great market to try things and be ambitious," says Buckingham, who worked as a personal mixologist for Justin Timberlake before launching into the food business. He also managed the Northcote Social Club in Melbourne before departing overseas.
"The plan for Chinese Tuxedo was to create an ambitious forward-thinking East Asian cuisine with a really strong emphasis on design as part of the guest experience," he adds.
"New York is caught in a bit of time warp when it comes to Chinese food.
"There is still a very Sunday night take-out idea about it. It's associated with being cheap and cheerful. We wanted to create a beautiful dining room using the finest ingredients and are inspired by Chinese banquet dining where people serve themselves. I like the breaking bread style of food –which is how I remember eating in Melbourne's Chinatown as a kid."
A taste of New York
Buckingham moved from Melbourne to New York in 2009. He was wide-eyed and eager to make a career in hospitality and and got his start as the general manager of a Midtown bar called The Australian. By 2011 he was the co-owner of The Liberty Bar. When he sold his stake in that business and prior to launching into Chinese Tuxedo, he took on a short-term role with a tequila company that led to working with Timberlake's 901 brand.
"It's very much about being in the right place at the right time. These sort of things only happen in New York," he says of hanging with Timberlake.
As far as coming home (and the fact he gets to visit his mum in Carlton), Buckingham says the Bloody Good Dinner will showcase some of the finest meals they serve in New York.
"We've had great support from Aussies who visit us in New York and this is a chance to show Melbourne what we're all about."
A Bloody Good Dinner charity night will take place on May 23.