The 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala Dinner took place on 21 January when we celebrated Australia's Olympic champions in the run-up to this year's London games. Caroline O'Connor and Grace Embassy took to our stage and Brett Graham designed the sumptuous menu.
Australia’s Olympic heritage
As London prepared to host the Olympic Games we celebrated Australia’s strong sporting culture and our Olympic champions and heritage. Hosts of the 1956 and 2000 games, Australia has sent athletes to every Summer Olympics, and nearly every Winter Olympics with particular success in swimming, cycling, sailing and equestrian events.
Welcome back to guest Australian chef Brett Graham. Since the first time he created a menu for us in 2009, Graham has been awarded a second Michelin Star and Restaurant of the Year Award for his Notting Hill restaurant The Ledbury. Menu highlights included a stunning ceviche of hand dived scallops, a succulent short rib of beef and molasses sugar tart.
Widely recognised as Australia’s Leading Lady of Musical Theatre, Caroline O’Connor’s International career has encompassed theatre, film and TV. We were also entertained by Grace Embassy. Award-winning Steven Grace most recently appeared in the West End musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
The Award Winners
Barry Humphries AO CBE
Australian of the Year in the UK
This year we honoured Barry Humphries, a legendary Australian comedy performer who is loved by millions across the globe.
Born and educated in Melbourne, in 1956 he created the character Mrs Everage, a Melbourne housewife who went on to become the internationally celebrated Megastar, Dame Edna. Humphries moved to London in 1959 and performed in the West End throughout the 1960s and 70s. As Dame Edna, Humphries hosted a successful talk show The Dame Edna Experience with ‘megastar’ guests including Liza Minnelli and Robin Williams. As his other most famous character, Sir Les Patterson, he hosted a satirical chat show, A Late Lunch with Sir Les and presented the BBC2 documentary The Great Chinese Takeaway covering the British handover of Hong Kong in 1997. Dame Edna - The Royal Tour was a massive Broadway hit in 2000, for which Humphries won the inaugural Special Tony Award for a Live Theatrical Event and two National Broadway Theatre Awards for Best Play and for Best Actor. His many other awards include honorary doctorates from Melbourne and Griffith Universities and in 1982 Humphries was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia and in 2007 Commander of the Order of the British Empire, both for services to the theatre.
Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK
Influential wine writer, Matthew Jukes was recognised for his huge contribution to the Australian wine industry and charity work.
The UK’s most popular wine columnist, Jukes has won the highly prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition’s Trophy for ‘Wine Communicator of the Year’ and is the wine buyer for some of London's most exclusive establishments. He is the creator of UK best-selling annual wine guide The Wine List and Taste Food & Wine, an annual wine guide published in Australia and New Zealand, co-authored with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer. Jukes lectures and judges all over the world and is the creator of ground-breaking, annual wine releases including the 100 Best Australian Wines. He launched the ’Hall of Fame’, naming the 100 Best Australian Wines in London in 2010, and The Great Australian Red competition, an annual quest to find Australia’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz. Jukes is Patron and Founder of Touch Wine, started in 2005 to raise money for the homeless in Adelaide and Melbourne. His charity work is a source of great personal satisfaction for Jukes, and his various initiatives have raised over $750,000AUD to date.
Young Australian Achiever of the year in the UK
Influential fashion director Yasmin Sewell was awarded 2012 Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK in recognition of her career achievements and commitment to supporting young talent in the UK fashion industry.
Sewell moved to London and by age 21 had set up her own Soho boutique Yasmin Cho in 1999, which was listed in The New York Times top 5 boutiques in the world. Sewell went on to become the Buying Director for Browns boutiques and has launched the careers of many influential young designers. Sewell set up her consultancy in 2008, working on retail strategies and trend direction for fashion brands and creative direction for young designers. Recently, as Chief Creative Consultant of Liberty of London, she completed a hugely profitable overhaul of the iconic store’s women’s wear and accessories department. Sewell consults with the British Fashion Council on mentoring programs for young designers and has contributed to awards boards including Swarovski Emerging Talent Award and regularly judges at the British Fashion Awards. Sewell frequently travels back to Australia where she consults to a variety of brands, high street retailers and designers.