Welcome to Platter Pantry created by Sam Sparks
Hi my name is Sam and welcome to my little business Platter Pantry. I have always had a deep love for creating food and magical experiences. My favourite movie of all time was Alice in Wonderland so as you can imagine, my imagination runs a little wild. I grew up in Camberwell with my mum, dad & little brother Will, all of which have found a creative path in life.
My mum is an artist. When I was young, she would be up until 4am some mornings drawing and writing up menu boards for cafes, bars & big restaurants throughout Melbourne. I remember sneaking into her art room and watching her draw from underneath the the big old billiard table she used for her paint tins and pens, thinking she didn't know I was there but of course she knew! I found her freedom to create pictures fascinating and built my own love for brining the ideas in my mind to life.
The Bedroom Restaurant
When I was about 10, I wanted to create a secret space in my bedroom that opened up into a fantasy world full of pretty flowers and cute places to sit. I wrapped my big old brass bed in fairy lights and fake flower vines. I picked flowers from the garden and placed them in glass vases. I dragged mums little antique chairs and tables into areas of my room and covered the tables in lacey cloth. I found silverware, crystal glasses and tealight candles around the house to decorate the tables. It was time to start cooking and what did I cook best? My all time favourite - pancakes!! I was obsessed with making pancakes. I would decorate them with icing sugar and flowers from the garden and felt such a sense of love when I would serve them up to my friends and family. I got the pancake mix ready and invited the neighbours to come and sit in my little restaurant and wait to be served. Serving up pancakes in my little wonderland was one of my most cherished moments as a child and although I went on to try so many other things as I got older, I found myself here, opening my very own little cafe/restaurant, completely designed by myself in every way I wanted it to be.
To explain how I got here. Platter Pantry began as a little fun idea with a friend. There was a new trend in town - Grazing Tables. This was right up my alley as it was placing food on a table or board in the prettiest way possible. My friend Kelly and I decided to give it a go, created an instagram and waited to see what happened. The bookings started rolling in and we thought 'shoot we better work this out'. We bought way too many things and made the worst looking platter ever. Let me tell you, there is an art to this work and it took a while to figure out the style, that's for sure. We learned many things along the way and started booking out most weekends, it was great. We both worked full time jobs yet I was getting very keen to make it my primary job so I took the leap and went part time. This gave me time to work out a true and unique style for the tables and boxes. I also wanted to create a website in which the grazing boxes could be ordered and customised by the customer. I worked day and night on building this website which was not a thing at the time. No one else had really started selling grazing boxes online before. I had almost worked it all out and Covid started creeping into the picture. I was home, no work and stressed about what would happen to the business. I was still super keen to keep at it and saw this time as the perfect moment to fine tune it. I bought the business off Kel and worked every minute I had on advertising the delivery grazing box, date night, birthday gift, just because present during lockdown. Everything was ready to go and boy did it take off. EVERYONE wanted a grazing box at home. I was baking scones, ordering bulk cheeses, I went to the supermarket & deli 50 times a week. I made boxes for businesses, got up at 5am to work through the hundreds of orders we would get. All in my little registered kitchen at mums house. Poor mum, her house turned into a production line but we were loving it. Mum would help me everyday. I had friends, neighbours and family help with deliveries, it was flying and unstoppable. I am forever grateful for that time and so glad I did it because it got me here today.
2020, I had been searching everywhere for a space to move my business. The work was never stopping and the space was getting too small, however I knew, these lockdowns wouldn't go on forever so I knew my business would change. My dream to open a shop had never left me so I started to think about making my very own cafe/restaurant which I could still sell boxes from. January 14th 2021 I found 71 Wicklow Avenue, Croydon. I remember screaming out to mum when it came up on my screen 'Mum, I found the one' she raced downstairs and we both started screaming 'omg, omg, omg'. I knew it was going to be mine and I did everything to get it. After lots of paperwork, lawyers and negotiation, I got those keys!! I couldn't believe it, it was a dream come true. Pinching myself, I got to work on the drawings of the fit out. I had never done this before but knew I would figure it out. I had an empty space, my imagination was on overload and all I knew was, it's going to look French to go with the French cheese we use. I mapped out the floorplan and sent it to council then started spending. I used every cent I saved and didn't hold back on anything if it was perfect. I designed the side boards, counter and bench and had dad build them for me. We fitted a brand new kitchen and built storage where we could. I couldn't have done it without my cabinet maker, dad. He built everything and did just what I asked. The fit out took us 4 months and we were open July 22, 2021 just before the 5th lockdown. Changing the business structure we had worked so hard on from dine in to takeaway was a big challenge. We hadn't even had the general public sit down for our menu once. The challenges came but we worked through them the best way we could. My team have been amazing and helped get us through, thank god for them. We now have found momentum and have a busy cafe/restaurant daily. I cannot believe it all came true, I am still pinching myself. We are still new but we are having so much fun fine tuning Platter Pantry. Making people happy is our genuine desire, and we only hope that happiness is what everyone feels when visiting us. Come on down and visit one day 71 Wicklow Avenue, Croydon we would love to have you.
- Sam Sparks
LITTLE SAM COOKING