Let’s eat: schisms, sambos & rising stars

7th May 2021 | Eativity editors

Things are really, well, cooking in hospitality now that the worst of the lockdowns appear to be over (don’t hold your breath, Sydney). Collaborations are kicking off everywhere – from up-and-comers showing off their shawarma skills and a Viking teaming up with the Pope to big-time celebrity chefs taking to the stage and sharing a pro tip or two.

But among all this synergy, there’s also a separation at hand, with one of the biggest names in the restaurant business deciding to divide its investments under two new, rather large umbrellas. Find out the latest hospitality news below, and remember: if something’s not quite right the next time you dine out, say, don’t slay. Nobody likes a troll.

Melbourne foodies: if you miss out, you’ll falafel.

The future of Middle Eastern cuisine in Australia

From May 18 and over four weeks, celebrated chef-restaurateur Shane Delia will be shining the spotlight on four of the country’s most outstanding young chefs to showcase the evolution of Middle Eastern cuisine in Australia at Collingwood’s Maha Bar.

The rising masters of modern Middle Eastern fare, Ben Williamson (Qld), Paul Farag (NSW), Adam Wolfers (Qld) and Tom Sarafian (Vic) will each take over the kitchen across four consecutive Tuesdays, serving a set menu influenced by their unique culinary styles and background as well as their personal connections to the region.

Each chef will present their own style with signature dishes and bespoke creations where classic Middle Eastern flavours are enhanced by the highest quality Australian produce. This exclusive dinner series will kick off with Williamson, who has created a menu inspired by his travels through the Middle East and its immense tapestry of cuisines. He’ll be plating up dishes such as Turkish crumpets, southern calamari and grilled quail with harissa.

Maha Bar is located at 86 Smith Street, Collingwood. For more, head to mahabar.com.au

The Rockpool Dining Group all began with chef Neil Perry (centre), who’s now retired from the business.

Rockpool Dining Group splits in two

Rockpool Dining Group has announced that it is separating into two stand-alone business units – a premium hospitality business and a casual and “fun-casual” hospitality business. Both are set to embark on new chapters as they take advantage of fresh opportunities now available in the post-COVID hospitality industry.

The premium restaurant side of the business has taken on the name Hunter St. Hospitality and the casual group will assume the name Pacific Concepts. In line with this, the Rockpool Dining Group name and business will be discontinued. These changes will become evident across websites and social media channels over the coming week.

The planned restructure of the business was announced in March 2020, but the formal separation of the group was delayed due to COVID-19 and its impact on the industry.

Hunter St. Hospitality includes premium, award-winning brands Rockpool Bar & Grill, Rosetta Ristorante, Spice Temple and Saké Restaurant & Bar.

Pacific Concepts encompasses Fratelli Fresh, El Camino Cantina, Bar Patrón, The Bavarian, Munich Brauhaus, WingHAÜS, Beerhaüs and The Argyle.

Hannah Laukart (Manager) and Bente Grysbaek (Head Chef) of Pope Joan.

The Viking and the Pope

After a year of openings and closings, lockdowns and collaborations, Melbourne CBD lunchtime favourite Pope Joan has settled back in with a new head chef, Danish-born Bente Grysbæk, and a stellar new menu. Regulars can rest assured that all of the heroes are still in play – whether that’s Pope’s boiled eggs and soldiers or rice pudding and rhubarb; or sangas like The Pope Joan, The Cornish and The Reuben – but Grysbæk has also loaded the menu with stacks more soon-to-be favourites.

As the cooler weather sets in, diners can take comfort in Warialda Belted Galloway beef bourguignon with glazed carrots, pine mushrooms and sweet potato purée; Milawa chicken schnitzel with shredded cabbage salad, dashi dressing and lemon; or free-range pork meatballs with Napoli sauce, polenta, fennel crudité and parmesan.

You can also get your vegie fix with seasonal plates of roasted Romsey pumpkin, Macedon Ranges harissa eggplant and celeriac with apple and cabbage slaw and native herbs. Joining the sandwich line-up are The Danish Open, with smoked salmon, crudités, dill and mustard sauce on rye bread; The Wrap with roast cauliflower, za’atar and hummus on pita; and lightly battered The Monte Cristo with mortadella, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard.

Pope Joan is located at 45 Collins Street, Melbourne. For more, head to popejoancity.com

Wait… where’s his cravat?

Take a seat in a celeb chef’s kitchen

Keen to learn some insider tips from your favourite celebrity chef? The Chefs Kitchen will be offering a full program of intimate cooking demonstrations from some of Australia’s favourite chefs during the 2021 Noosa Eat & Drink Festival.

Taking place on June 12 and 13, The Chefs Kitchen will be housed in a grand marquee nestled on the water’s edge, offering expansive views of the Noosa River. It’s a pre-ticketed program, and each session will feature two guest chefs. The Chefs Skills stage will offer a relaxed, informal session while the Main Stage will feature another guest chef who’ll demonstrate some of their favourite recipes. Big screens showing the live action will ensure you won’t miss a single detail of what’s happening on stage.

Chefs scheduled to appear include Colin Fassnidge, Matt Preston, Anna Polyviou, Khahn Ong, Adriano Zumbo and Kirsten Tibballs.

For more details and to purchase tickets, head to noosaeatdrink.com.au