On 27 April, Perth joined a century-old tradition with the running of the Great Waiters Race in East Perth, part of the Eat Drink Perth festival.
From the first events held in Paris and London in the early 1900s, waiters races have aimed to improve recognition of the waiter profession. They are now held in cities all around the world.
The race allows waiters to show off their agility and balance as they race around a course, each carrying on one hand a tray with a three-quarter filled wine bottle, a beer bottle and a plastic wine glass filled to a measured level. The Perth race took place along an 850-metre course around picturesque Claisebrook Cove, which included a slight uphill slope before the home straight.
62 waiters took part in the race, coming from Perth restaurants including Bistro Guillaume, Balthazar, Perugino, No 4 Blake Street, Duende Tapas Bar, Lalla Rookh, Bread in Common, The Royal, Nobu, Silks and Modo Mio. The waiters were required to race in their work uniforms.
The event ran from 11.30am to 4.30pm. The first of several heats was held at 12.30pm as the field was whittled down to the 8 fastest racers and the exciting grand finale held just before 4pm. The winner of the race was Pavel Parihuzic of Perugino. Second place went to Roberto Notarnicola from Villa D’Este. In third place was Benoit Rivault from Bistro Guillaume. First prize was a $2500 travel voucher.
In addition to the race, there was a gourmet village at Victoria Gardens, featuring stalls from Marcelitas Empanadas, Mojito Cantina Mexican food, Amor Paella Catering, Poach Pear, The Juicist, Miss Tartufo, Kustom Cupcakes, The Wooden Spoon, The Boss Hoss BBQ, Maison Saint Honoré, Arepa Latin American Food, Two Queens, the Merrywell food truck and more. There was a wine tasting area on one side of the village and a special area for kids with bouncy castle and animal farm.
Perth’s King of Oysters Jerry Fraser was there, shucking fresh briny beauties from Coffin Bay – in fact, Jac had dropped me off at the race on her way to the office and had not intended to come along, but I tempted her to join me afterwards by sending her a photo of the oysters. She loves her oysters!
It had rained all week and showers were forecast that day – which may have kept the crowds away – but we only had to contend with one brief heavy shower in the middle of the day. The rest was light drizzle, though the wind would’ve made balancing the items on those trays while moving quite a challenge. It all added to the spectacle and fun of the race – we were impressed by how fast those waiters moved.
- The event was held on 27 April as part of Eat Drink Perth 2014
- The races were held around Claisebrook Cove and the gourmet village was in Victoria Gardens – easy to get to by train: get off at Claisebrook and walk straight up Royal Street
- The Perth event was a fundraiser organised by the Rotary Club of West Perth in support of the McCusker Alzheimers Research Foundation and the West Australian Neuroscience Research Institute (WANRI)
- Find out more about waiters races around the world
Hopefully next year there will be better publicity around this event, and we’ll be luckier with the weather and attract a bigger crowd. But it’s always a tough one, finding that sweet spot for a decent turn-out that creates a fantastic atmosphere and makes an event worthwhile for the organisers and stallholders, yet doesn’t end up too busy. Having said that, I hope to see more of you guys at the Great Waiters Race next year.