Sold Out: The Secret Feast

The Secret Feast's Ashlee Ede and Heidi Hatherell said locals don't realise the huge risk events take by going ahead with minimal tickets sold in advance. IMAGE: Ferry Photography

The Secret Feast is a monthly pop-up dining experience celebrating local produce in unpredictable and quirky Townsville locations, with a guest list comprised of only those fast enough to RSVP.  An address is sent out 12 hours before each event, with the menu and venue setup not revealed until guests arrive. It’s a recipe that has proven successful, with events sold out three months in advance.

Secret Feast Co-Founders Heidi Hatherell and Ashlee Ede said Townsville’s support for events now would determine what the city is offered in the future.

“The Townsville population generally buy tickets extremely late, even right down to the day of an event. That can be really crippling for businesses who invest a lot into them,” Heidi said.

“We’re different because we don’t reveal our event location or anything until 12 hours beforehand, so can cancel, change the venue or have an entirely different menu without too much drama. But for a lot of other groups, they’ve put in a lot of rehearsal time and spent a lot of money on their event, so if people haven’t booked tickets early it is a massive gamble and risk just to put it on.

“If Townsville books earlier and gets behind awesome events in the region, then we’re going to see more of them – because if promoters see there’s support there, they know that putting events on here isn’t such a gamble.

“Our first event booked out in a week, and then our August event booked out in three days – we’re extremely lucky, and really thankful to Townsville for getting behind the concept.”

Mastermind in the kitchen, Ashlee said the event was a great way to showcase both unique locations and incredible NQ-grown produce.

“If we’re shopping at one of the big guys for everything, we get good FlyBuys points but it’s not necessarily the best produce available. That’s what we want: the best produce, and if it hasn’t travelled far it’s more likely to be good,” Ashlee said.

“That’s why Coral Trout was the feature at our first event, to support up here. And then that’s why our second one was at Otto’s, we used everything down to butter and salt from Otto’s – apart from our Bugs which were from NQ Marina Fresh Seafood anyway. We just try and keep it local to support local, because I think it all gets a bit lost if it’s not from up here.”

The Secret Feast is testament to the fact that unique ideas will grow legs: stop assuming that you’ll be able to grab a ticket closer to the date, because for a lot of events, that’s no longer the case.

In the September/ October issue of Huxley, we chat to five local organisations challenging Townsville’s last-minute ticket market. To read all five profiles, click here

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