THEIRS is a boy-meets-girl story, but with a twist.
He was a Melbourne chef who was working on a billionaire’s private cruiser, sailing the Mediterranean and Caribbean, hanging out with Mick Jagger and Michael Douglas.
She was a Danish girl, who’d moved to Spain for the sun and had started her own property development business.
But when Chris Davey met Vivian Andersen in Spain in 1998 it was love at first sight.
He gave up his cruising lifestyle, she abandoned her real estate dreams and together they set up home and started a family and business in what is probably the most obscure corner of the world for them – given their previous lifestyles.
Today Chris and Viv live in the Buckland Valley, near Bright, and run The Traditional Plum Pudding Company. And, the couple say, they couldn’t be happier.
"The fact we work from home and can be here when the kids get back from school, the fact I can walk out on to the terrace and look out to Mt Porepunkah and Mt Buffalo National Park, my horses and chooks, it’s a lovely lifestyle," Viv says.
Chris says while he misses the ocean, he’s a contented man.
"I love playing my baseball in the winter and golf in the summer," says Chris, who has also worked and lived in many parts of the world.
"If you live in Far North Queensland, for instance, the seasons and surroundings never change. Whereas here you see the seasons. We have 130 sugar maples on our property and in autumn they’re stunning, in winter you ski and in spring it’s green again."
While Chris does all the cooking, Viv looks after the books and business.
The couple run The Traditional Plum Pudding Company from May to October, before their catering business, Straight From The Ovens, hits its peak season from October with weddings and sporting events.
In between they run Alpine Valleys Fine Foods, which makes fruit cakes and a chocolate-hazelnut panforte all year round.
But in the lead up to Christmas, it is their puddings that do a roaring trade, with about 3800 made each year in four sizes and sold online, by phone, or through a range of outlets around Victoria.
Viv says they bought the plum pudding business in 2005 from its original owner, Bright’s Jan Fenn, who had started it in 1994.
"Before we bought it, I was the same as everyone else – why would you buy a business when you can set up one from scratch yourself?" Viv says.
"But it really is a good idea, because you don’t have to wait five years to make money. All the outlets and customers come with the business."
At peak times, Chris bakes three days a week, cooking the brandy-laden puddings in Bendigo Pottery pots, which make for a less stodgy and dense pudding compared to calico.
He advises any home cook to ensure the butter is at room temperature before cooking – too soft or too hard and the pudding will end up crumbly.
And he says the best time for eating a pudding is when it is at least three months old, but they can be left as long as 18 months.
Chris, who did his cooking apprenticeship in Melbourne’s Hilton in the 1980s, says the pudding company blends well with their other business concepts.
"If I had to make puddings every day I’d tire of it, but because I go from puddings to the catering company it works well," he says.