I first met the gorgeous Chyka Keebaugh and her husband Bruce back in 2004 while I was studying Public Relations at University. My friend Liz and I were organizing a 'Ladies Who Lunch' fundraising event for Melbourne’s Peter Mac Cancer Centre and Chyka and Bruce – who were super-busy heading up their fabulous catering and events company, The Big Group – had kindly agreed to be guest speakers at our inaugural event.
I'll never forget how generous Chyka and Bruce were with their time that day. They stayed on for hours chatting to guests and sharing their tips for entertaining at home.
Their passion for the industry was inspiring and 13 years on this remains the case.
I was lucky to catch up with Chyka at a lunch hosted by Pottery Barn last week and I am delighted to share an interview with you today.
It's been a long time between catch ups and you've been very busy! Can you share some details of what you've been up to?
Well... life has seriously been going at full speed. Since I last saw you we have set up 3 new venues- Luminaire, Mural Hall and Glasshouse. We won the contract in Canberra for the National Gallery of Australia and started Capital Kitchen at Chadstone and Malvern Central.
Our business Flowers Decoration and Design changed its name to The Design Depot and we have moved into the world of event hiring and styling for clients outside of The Big Group.
I spent 4 years filming and appearing on The Real Housewives of Melbourne and started my new online magazine Chyka.com.
Both my kids have now finished school and Bruce and I are travelling a whole lot more and working on some amazing events in the Middle East.
I adore your blog and online mag www.chyka.com. It is so fresh and always has great styling ideas too! What do you love about blogging and what are your plans for the magazine?
I have always loved styling a table, changing my house around, obsessively cleaning and all things lifestyle. My friends always ask me where to find certain things or how to create a kids party, etc. so it seemed the right thing to do to start www.Chyka.com and share all the info and advice I have.
I love that I can create what each shoot and theme will be and love the interaction I have with my readers. It is light, bright and fun and I hope the perfect place for people to stop for 5 minutes- enjoy a cup of tea and read whatever the latest theme of the week is.
I truly have found my happy place and am loving this next stage of my career.
You create some spectacular table settings! I recall you and Bruce saying all those years back that it really is possible to create a 'cheap and chic' tablescape. Can you share some of your favourite retailers for chic and accessible tableware?
I am all about creating something 'wow' without costing a fortune.
I believe that the new luxury is time spent with friends and creating beautiful spaces to share with them.
You will quite frequently find me at any $2 shop, or Ikea, Bunnings or Spotlight.
I love quantity of anything- flowers, fabric and candles. These places make this so achievable.
I personally love the planning process of having friends over as much as when the guests come. It's all about being organised and having fun. Thinking outside the box also helps.
Let's pretend it's 7pm and you have guests arriving for dinner. Everything is ready to go except for dessert! What do you make?
It's all about keeping it simple and making it look amazing.
I would run up to the local BP and buy 6 different containers of ice cream- I would then raid the lolly area and buy Kit Kats, M&Ms, marshmellows, almonds and whatever else takes my eye.
I would put each flavour ice cream in a glass vase (matching of course) and create a lolly shop with the mixed sweet treats. The guests can all help themselves to their own DIY ice cream sundae bar.
Use tall glasses for the dessert and if you have fresh mint - use plenty of that to garnish.
It is so easy and will put a smile on all your guests faces.
Between your blog, TV commitments, The Big Group and Capital Kitchen, you are one busy lady! Can you describe your typical week?
As I lie on the balcony at home answering these questions it's all about balance. I'm not very good at that but am this year trying to allow more me time. I say yes to everyone and then stress about getting everything done.
Keeping healthy and fit is important and this year I will not be cancelling any gym time unless it's unavoidable. Spending time with my family is a must and that's where Monday night dinner comes to play.
I have a great team around me and so communication is also important so we are all on the same page.
So what's a typical week?! I don't have one! Every day is different and Bruce and I go through our diaries together so we can block things out so we can be together. We have just bought a place In the country so we are being very strict about getting down there as much as we can!
Lastly, can you share what 2017 has in store for you?
I have a huge year ahead! I've just signed a book deal to bring my blog to life. I also have some other exciting adventures ahead but can't say just yet what they are.
I will be a presenter on a lifestyle show and have lots more travel in store too.
This year is busy and I really thought life would have started to slow down... but apparently not.
I don't think I would know what to do anyway!!
Huge thank you Chyka for your time today! We adore your work! xx