I grew up on a vineyard in Victoria, so learning about the process, the importance of fresh produce, and how food and wine are intertwined happened naturally. I was always eating fresh seafood at the Lakes Entrance, fishing with my mates in tinnies after school, and I worked in the kitchen at my sister’s restaurant, so I’ve always been around food and restaurants. It was an easy path for me to take.
Growing up around restaurants and produce helped, but I learned the most when I was running multi-site kitchens with different cuisine offerings. Opening my own business Sodafish in the Lakes Entrance has also given me an overall view of a hospitality operation, so it set me up to really understand every aspect. Expanding into the hotel space was the logical next step and having a solid understanding of restaurants and operations at every phase of growth.
After operating restaurants across Australia, the role with Public was the right next step in my career. I get to work with our chefs, menus, and behind the scenes to make sure all our venues run smoothly. We also have one of the most unique portfolios in the industry, with classic pub menus at Lady Hampshire to Italian trattoria menus at Camelia Grove — I need to change tact quickly, which is fun and challenging.
There are 13 venues currently open, with a stack more to come in 2023 and 2024. I work across every venue in the group to some degree — collaborating and consulting with the culinary team including our Creative Culinary Director Clayton Wells and The Maybe Group directors Vince [Lombardi], Stefano [Catino], and Martin [Hudak] to ensure there’s synergy across our food and beverage menus. Despite their differences, all feature quality produce and techniques.
Each venue demands different tactics to make a diner’s experience equally as unique, as does each chef when it comes to mentorship. I liked the idea of mentoring some of the younger culinary talents and collaborating to make sure we’re adequately rostering, purchasing quality produce, and perfecting the basics.
We want all our venues to feel unique as we’ve created spaces from something a neighbourhood has either once loved or missed. Some of our newest venues are already vital in their areas including Sydney venues Oxford House in Paddington, Lady Hampshire in Camperdown, and The Strand Hotel in Darlinghurst.
We’re such a new and agile team, so we grow together, every day and it makes me proud. We’ve learned so much. As we open venues, we learn from one another and become part of different neighbourhoods, so we naturally work more cohesively.
We have a slew of upcoming openings including developing our new hotel and food and beverage concepts at the Noah’s Backpackers site in South Bondi. We’re also continuing to focus on uplifting our open venues to ensure they continue to be of the quality our guests and locals have come to know. We’re working with some exciting culinary talents to help us bring new venues to life in the second half of this year and into 2024, so we’re looking forward to opening and revealing them.