So French So Chic – Interview with Jean-François Ponthieux

SFSC invites you to experience joie de vivre as the French do... With plenty of fine food and wine, sunshine, fabulous music and great company.

Written by Sacreblue!

09 Jul 2021

3 min read

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Jean-François, how are you?

I’m well thank you. Riding the Covid wave of uncertainty which is teaching me to be nimble and to appreciate the moment. 

So Frenchy So Chic is so famous in Australia that most people assume there’s a big team behind the scenes? Is that true?  

We’re a small team that has been working together since its inception in 2011. It takes eight months to plan and organise the festival. I spend four months alone working on sponsorship, music programming, then my production and hospitality managers come on board, and publicist and assistant four months out. The rest of the team joins us the week of the festival to bring it to life. We’re like a family on a camping holiday. It’s hard work, but we make sure to have fun along the way. Festivals are a stressful environment, and we have to be prepared for the unexpected and find solutions on demand. Having a loyal team is the best remedy to face the unknown. The 2020 bush fires certainly tested our resilience.

Launched 10 years ago, why do you think So Frenchy So Chic has been so successful? What makes it so special?

3 words: ‘Joie de vivre’. The So Frenchy So Chic core values have never been so in sync with the needs of the time.

We provide a fun, safe, friendly cultural experience working with passionate artisans and artists in a styled, decorated environment. The vibe permeates to people’s moods, which has benefited the festival’s reputation. Anyone can put a marquee and stage together; the successful alchemy resides in the festival’s overall atmosphere. From our end, it requires attention to detail to provide what appears to be an effortless day of joie de vivre. I think it’s also necessary to transport people somewhere especially when travel is restricted.  

It is extraordinary that you’ve been able to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, how did the 2021 edition go? Did you encounter any difficulties? 

There is an element of Russian roulette at the moment for event organisers. Ten days before the February 2021 edition of the festival, Melbourne entered into a five-day snap lockdown that could have been extended. Fortunately, it wasn’t, but the Victorian health authorities DHSS gave us the ok at midday on Thursday, three days before our event, which is very tight for finalising the organisation, especially for our food vendors who had already ordered food to cater for 2000 people. A nail-biting moment. 

Being a sit-down picnic made it easier to be a Covid safe event. 

People were so happy to celebrate the day; it was bliss. They supported us fully as they appreciated the risk we took to make this event happen

 We really would like to see So Frenchy So Chic benefit other cities. Would you be open to extending it to another major Australian city? Which would be your n°1 pick?

My first priority is returning to Sydney in 2022 as we were unable to organise the event there in 2021.  

Finally, we are very excited for the next year, would you mind sharing some insights about the programme? 

Too early 🙂

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