Perfectly applied lipstick and car fumes might sound like an odd pairing, but at this year's Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix there was plenty of room for glamour, not least at the Mercedes-Benz Ladies Day Luncheon. Held on the first day of the event, the annual lunch showcased dishes by Melbourne chef and Mercedes-Benz ambassador Shane Delia at a trackside venue featuring splashes of greenery, bentwood chairs and black and white tiles.
"We're treating you to a day filled with fashion, music, food and fast cars," Antonia Kidman, the day's MC, said.
Aeroplanes twirled overhead and guests held phones aloft, capturing the perfect Instagram shot while VIPs including fashion icon Camilla Freeman-Topper of Camilla & Marc and journalist Sylvia Jeffreys mingled with special guests over glasses of Mumm.
But it was Delia, the driving force behind Middle Eastern restaurant Maha, who stole the show with a menu that tapped into the food being served at the restaurant, which celebrates 10 years this year.
"You don't want to wear your food on the front of your dress," Delia said. "So we've kept it clean and fresh, with interesting flavours."
Late-summer produce was the hero, whether in bowls of peaches topped with shankleesh, basturma and an argan oil and tomato dressing or the rosewater panna cotta served with raspberry and lychee jelly. A sambusek of caramelised onion, spinach, silverbeet and pinenuts was made with help from Delia's mother-in-law.
Clear skies brought guests onto the deck overlooking the racetrack, where spanner crab rolls with avruga were served as racing cars zipped past. And for any lipstick smudges, the Beauty Bar was nearby with two make-up artists on-hand for quick pit-stops.
Throughout the day, Delia entertained guests at his live cooking station, simmering dumplings of ricotta, haloumi and mint in a saffron sauce along with local calamari and the last of the season's tomatoes.
Liquid nitrogen martinis spiked with Arabic flavours and desserts including frozen Arabic coffee with cardamom ice-cream marked the end of the day but, for many others, it was only the beginning of a weekend of racing and celebration.
Formula 1 2018 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, 22-25 March, Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Albert Park, Vic, grandprix.com.au.