In 1980 Graeme and Joy took over a restaurant on Anzac Highway, which became available for lease. With this, they needed to find a name for their then-new restaurant! At the time, there were a lot of Australian restaurants around, including the “Jolly Swagman” and “Bush Tucker”, which were very Australian themed names. However, Graeme and Joy wanted something different, unique and not just a traditional Australian name but also something International.
Dame Nellie Melba was a famous Australian Operatic Soprano and was one of Australia’s first overseas successes in the entertainment industry.
During a performance in 1893, a well-renowned Chef Auguste Escoffier became so inspired by her song ‘Swan Lake’ that he decided to name a dish after her, the ‘Peach Melba’.
This beloved dish consisted of fresh Peaches served with Vanilla Ice Cream and a dash of Raspberry Sauce, served in between wings carved out of ice to pay homage to Dame Nellie Melba and Swan Lake.
Graeme recalls that the beloved dessert Peach Melba was on every pub and restaurant menu. It went from the dessert being served with Fresh Peaches to every pub making sure that they had Tins of Peaches to allow them to offer the dessert all year round!
And so, it was with this rich history and unique name that Graeme and Joy decided to call their Restaurant Melba’s.
Naturally, when it came to Graeme and Joy’s restaurant, they also wanted to feature the famous Peach Melba. A relative who lived up in the Adelaide Hills could supply beautiful white peaches, Masons Orchards in Lenswood supplied the raspberries, and Graeme even learnt how to carve a swan out of ice to ensure they could serve the famous dessert the traditional way.
In the wintertime, Graeme and Joy would line the restaurant’s mantelpiece with preserved peaches. In 1981 when it was quiet one Easter, Graeme created Chocolate Easter Egg Novelty Houses to display on the mantelpiece. It was when the owner of Pretzel Fine Foods in Gouger Street came into the restaurant and asked if Graeme would make these Novelty Houses for him to sell in his shop. It was with this request that they then started to venture into Chocolates.
Soon after, Graeme and Joy purchased a retired dutch confectioner’s equipment. This equipment meant that they could make more chocolates by hand. Pretzel Fine Foods then asked them for more chocolates, from fresh cream truffles to assorted chocolates. With this new venture ahead for Graeme and Joy, they then decided to register Melba’s Chocolates!