February 2, 2023
Wine & Dine

Bigger and better

Turn your back on minimalism for an unashamedly over-the-top night with Fay Zaikos and her guests.

Spend half an hour with Fay Zaikos and you’ll realise she doesn’t subscribe to the theory that less is more. If it’s one of the rooms in her home you’ll only need about 10 seconds.

Whether it’s food, fashion, art or fun, Fay naturally fills her life with big, bold and adventurous things.

It’s with this philosophy that she’s forging ahead into tonight’s dinner party, at a table surrounded by eclectic pieces of art collected over her years.

There are impossibly delicate drawings from Japan, curvaceous statues, bold paintings and Nick Mount glass pieces.

“I enjoy the visual feast,” Fay says.

Fay Zaikos’s guests discover the name tags for the night, each with a Greek god or goddess assigned to them.

Fay recalls the first piece she collected was at 13 years of age– a painting found in an antique/junk shop in Pirie Street. For just a few shillings, the old framed canvas travelled with her home on the bus.

It now sits in her daughter Eli’s home, frame and all, encased in a glass box.

As you would expect, Fay doesn’t do small get-togethers with a simple dish. She is rather drawn to menu items such as stuffed quail, which has recently become difficult to find in a deboned form, however, after some research and several phone calls she had success.

“I think it’s the challenge of experimenting and creating interesting and intensely flavoured dishes that I enjoy.”

The canape of prosciutto rolls with buffalo mozzarella, mascarpone, pesto and wild rocket.
Fay’s daughter Eli Zaikos-Ridley, loves a fashion moment.

The idea might start small, but Fay says it keeps growing and growing until the menu becomes more elaborate.

Tonight is no exception. To begin, there are a couple of canapes: prosciutto rolls with buffalo mozzarella, mascarpone, pesto and wild rocket, and Peruvian kingfish ceviche spoons. Once seated, the guests enjoy a roasted aubergine, zucchini, capsicum and tomato lasagne, with Shawarma salsa.

For main course, it’s the deboned quail stuffed with pine nuts, currants, mushrooms, bacon, spring onion, apple, coriander and other herbs and spices, served on a bed of couscous with roasted almonds and a port and orange sauce.

The dessert is pears poached in one and a half bottles of shiraz, infused with cinnamon bark, star anise, cloves, and orange peel, served with rose water mascarpone.

Those hard-to-find deboned quail on the beautiful Italian dinnerware.
The food included blood orange and radicchio salad.

After all of that, there’s a cheese platter and an assortment of Greek finger sweets.

As with all good dinner parties, preparation is key, and Fay has selected dishes which can be prepared a day or two in advance, and in fact, she says, are better as the flavours have had time to intensify.

As important as getting the menu just right with bold flavours, it’s also important to inject bold personalities around the table. As guests are seated they realise they’ve been assigned a moniker for the night.

As a favourite conversation starter, Fay gives everyone a place card with the name of a Greek god or goddess to celebrate her own heritage.

Paul Heywood-Smith, Claire Luckett, Eli Zaikos-Ridley, Fay, Mark Luckett, and Diana Jaquillard.
There were Champagne cocktails, as well as an extensive wine list.

Fay was born in Athens and recalls weekends spent with great food and company.

“I remember on weekends we’d get on this bus that one of my parents’ friends owned and drive out to the country.

“They’d spread their rugs and have good food and wine and the musicians would play their guitars and the women would sing and dance.”

Fay’s name tag for the night is the goddess Athena, fittingly.

For tonight’s gathering Fay has chosen two separate groups of friends, which she says can be risky, however as they’re all fun with diverse interests, she was confident success was guaranteed.

On the guest list is Paul Heywood Smith and his wife Edie Bransbury, Phil and Diana Jaquillard, Mark and Claire Luckett, Mark and Patty Chehade, and Fay’s daughter Eli Zaikos-Ridley.

The arts, both performing and visual, are the common denominator among the group and creativity runs around the table.

Patty owns the gallery Praxis Art Space and recently, Diana, Fay and Patty went to the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair on a tour curated by the Art Gallery of South Australia.

“We had a great time visiting private collections, private galleries and the Art Fair, with lots of laughs, eating and drinking.”

Fay enjoys entertaining, and feels if “fun people with a bit of a naughty sense of humour” gather it sets the pace for an entertaining and successful night.

It’s that sense of humour and passionate love for the arts that keeps Fay, 74, feeling young. “I’m lucky to have lots of energy which allows me to be as active as I like.”


This article first appeared in the November 2022 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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