The Big Group love story

Way back in 1990, Bruce Keebaugh and his wife Chyka Keebaugh had a big idea -

The Big Group is a business that started out of love and continues to this day, to be run with love.

How? Well, simple. Way back in 1990, Bruce Keebaugh and his wife Chyka Keebaugh had a big idea – to create a Melbourne based catering and events company that would push the boundaries in delivering incredible, unforgettable experiences. Meeting on a plane 30 years ago, while both were working for Peter Rowling, these two love birds hit it off, and the rest is history. With backgrounds in corporate and private catering and events, they enjoyed the happiness that food and service brought out in people and knew that as a pair, with their unique creativity and business flair, they could make their mark on the industry. And so, The Big Group was born. Now, over 25 years later, with more than 1,000 employees and have been host to over 12,500 unbelievable parties. Bruce and Chyka lead a team of the unrestricted party and events enthusiasts.

“We’ve been each others sounding boards. We’re really very lucky. Not many couples can work tougher and still be married and have a happy relationship. It’s been a very 50-50, respectful relationship” Chyka, New Idea.

Both Chyka and Bruce exude an evident love and passion for their jobs and their business, on top of absolute dedication to creating the best parties in Melbourne and abroad. But get to know them, and you will discover that no festivity goes uncelebrated, no birthday goes by without a decadent cake, and no food is served that hasn’t been made with love. As a couple and as a business, they continue to exceed boundaries, creating industry change – and the parties, well they keep getting better and bolder

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to celebrate the love that drives The Big Group. Whether you are celebrating with decadent flowers for a loved one or spending time with family and friends, a delicious yet simple dessert always goes down a treat. Eton mess is a dreamy dessert for Valentine’s Day and so easy to pull together, bringing out all the components and then playfully arranging it yourself makes this after-dinner delight interactive and fun. Get a little creative and add chocolate shards or flaked almonds to add an extra level of texture and another thing to fall in love with this Valentine’s Day.

Eton mess

Ingredients

  • 750 gm strawberries, quartered, plus extra to serve

  • 110 gm (½ cup) caster sugar

  • 200 ml thickened cream, lightly whisked

  • 125 gm crème fraîche

  • 55 gm (½ cup) pure icing sugar, sieved

  • Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla bean

  • 125 gm raspberries

  • 100 gm chocolate

Meringue

  • 100 gm eggwhite (about 3 eggs)

  • 100 gm caster sugar

  • 100 gm pure icing sugar, sieved

  • 15 gm cornflour

 

Method

  1. For meringues, preheat oven to 120C. Whisk eggwhite and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until firm peaks form (3-4 minutes). With motor running, gradually add the caster sugar and whisk until thick and glossy (2-3 minutes). Sieve icing sugar and cornflour over, fold to combine, then spoon 8cm-diameter mounds onto oven trays lined with baking paper. Bake until meringues lift easily from trays and are crisp but not coloured (45-50 minutes), then turn off the oven and cool completely in the oven.

  2. Meanwhile, toss strawberries and caster sugar in a large bowl to combine, then set aside until juices begin to seep (20 minutes).

  3. Whisk cream, crème fraîche, icing sugar and vanilla seeds together in a separate large bowl until soft peaks form. Scatter a quarter of the strawberries in the base of a 3-litre serving bowl, spread with a quarter of the cream mixture, and coarsely crumble a quarter of the meringue and chocolate over the top. Repeat layering with remaining ingredients.

  4. Scatter Eton mess with raspberries and extra strawberries and serve.

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