Michelle Christoe

As the creative mind behind the Gold Coast’s much-loved food and music venue, NightQuarter, Michelle Christoe knows a thing or two about bringing the good times to the people.

So much so that she’s gifting us another one-day only beer festival next month featuring over 100 beers, workshops, tastings and best of all, unlimited fun.

We sat down for a chat with Michelle about all things beer and the epic Aussie music acts set to grace the NightQuarter stage later this year. 

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’m originally from the Northern Beaches in Sydney and have been travelling to the Gold Coast for the past 30 years. I became a local only in the last few years.

What do you love most about living here?
The beaches and waterways…can’t get enough of them!

NightQuarter is your creation, how did the much-loved marketplace come about?
My husband, Ian Van Der Woude, and I were dining in an Italian piazza overlooking vineyards, Italian families were wandering around us as we ate amazing food and listened to a street band play. We pondered how fantastic it was to see families out together at night and how we could localise the concept and bring communities together in Australia to create the same environment.

On the way home, we visited shopping centres in Bangkok made of containers and in New Zealand, container bars. We thought they would make a perfect basis for the venue. As I had been travelling to the northern end of the Gold Coast for many years, I felt it badly needed a food and entertainment outlet and so, the concept of NightQuarter grew. We think of it as a venue, as we love to offer events and music to all ages and attracting touring bands back to the Gold Coast has been an exciting process. Every night when we see the kids interacting with bands, I get teary, as NightQuarter has delivered to them more than I ever imagined.

Today we not only deliver food and entertainment but workshops, particularly during the school holidays and functions of all sizes. The local community has embraced NightQuarter so we believe we not only have to give back but incubate the rising talent we are seeing in music, our school based trainees and all the small businesses invested in our concept.

Tell us about life before NightQuarter, what has it taken to get here?
Anyone who knows me will say I have lived a few lifetimes with all my adventures. I started my first business in Los Angeles representing over 60 product lines from Australia, from paintings, to gemstones, to citrus, to lamb, to beer, wine and my own lines of sateen fabrics. I organised exhibitions with the likes of The Smithsonian Institute and Getty Museum, and was also involved in various Australian music events. Since returning back to Australia some 15 years ago, I have been heavily involved in the Australian agriculture industry representing horticulture and seafood industries in international affairs. I have owned my own restaurants and bakeries and lectured on international trade and marketing.

To get to the creation of NightQuarter, my husband and I spent three years in planning. My husband has had a career that has spanned all facets of the hospitality industry, from owning his own pubs to the head offices of the biggest brands in the industry, including executive positions with Lion Nathan Australia, Castlemaine Perkins and Austotels. Our skills combined have made a great team.

The beer festival is back next month, what can we expect?
The Gold Coast Beer Festival is an annual event on June 2nd held at NightQuarter and representing over 100 beers. The Gold Coast Beer Festival is set to take over the NightQuarter Paddock for one day only, transforming it into a beer lover’s paradise. It kicks off at midday and runs through to 10pm at night. It’s a day filled with beer, food and entertainment. The NightQuarter market will run alongside the Gold Coast Beer Festival with rides and over 100 market outlets so it’s suitable for all the family. Hosted by NightQuarter and proudly sponsored by Channel Nine, The Star and 102.9 Hot Tomato as part of the 2018 Gold Coast Food and Wine Festival.

We encourage everyone to come along and explore the tastes of local and international beers as this expo style event plays host to all your favourite breweries! There will be beer workshops, demonstrations, tastings and competitions throughout the day, so we encourage everyone to mark June 2nd on their calendar, as this is one not to miss!

Our business, Food Focus Australia launched NightQuarter two years ago as well as the Gold Coast Food and Wine Festival, which is hosting the Gold Coast Beer Festival. Both are representative of the change in the culinary landscape that we are seeing in the region. Dining precincts have exploded and there is truly a broad degustation experience starting to emerge. Throughout the Festival we will explore the theme of ‘Evolve’ as a culinary community to make a statement about where the Gold Coast has been and where it is evolving as a gastronomic destination.

What do you have in the pipeline for the rest of 2018?
We have recently been announcing some amazing lineups from the likes of Spiderbait and Superjesus, to the Cat Empire and Amy Shark and we have more to come! If our patrons don’t want to go to the ticketed events, the entertainment and food continues as part of the NightQuarter market. We have also been hosting NightQuarter Spectacular every Friday and Saturday at 6.30pm offering a range of fire shows and acrobatics for all the family.

NightQuarter has also become a well recognised venue for entertainment on the Gold Coast and so, with this we are able to host fun events like Island Night which we are also hosting as part of the Festival on 1 June and a Wedding & Honeymoon Festival in August soon to be announced. We are event managers and love to dress to theme. We have an amazing team supporting us, which makes all these events possible.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
I have had two major influencers. My grandfather who I loved dearly, taught me not to worry about things you cannot change and some monks I met in my teens that told me that if you visualise where you are going, you usually get there. Every decision you make is towards that end result.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: Currumbin
Cafe: 3 Sixty in Labrador overlooking the Broadwater, they recently refurbished and offer great coffee.
Restaurant: Matsuzaka Teppanyaki. I’m a sucker for Japanese as it is always clean eating. Their service and quality is a standout!
How does your weekend usually look? I get up at 4am on a Friday to write a newsletter to our stallholders so they can embrace what is going on at the venue, walk our dogs then head over to Rocklea markets with my husband to pick up fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers for our front gate at NightQuarter and of course edible flowers for our cocktails. I hit the NightQuarter market around 11am and get home around 2am, then start all over again Saturday. I am starting to show my age these days, as Sundays are my veg out days to recover before the week starts again. I usually end up at the beach with our dogs.

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