GREAT ADMIRATION FOR HIS WINEMAKER FRIEND, AND A DESIRE TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY, PROMPTED ANDREW DOUGHTON TO MAKE A MOVE.
Grilled radicchio, fig & mozzarella salad (recipe page 72) The 2014 Polperro Mill Hill Pinot Gris adds pear and spice notes, and has the zingy acidity to balance any bitterness from the radicchio. FACING PAGE Chef Andrew Doughton (left) with friend and winemaker Sam Coverdale, who owns Polperro Bistro.
from a restaurant you opened yourself to oversee someone else’s new venture. That, however, is exactly what Andrew Doughton did last year when he left his Red Hill restaurant and Mornington Peninsula institution, The Long Table, in the hands of his trusted kitchen team and under the watchful eye of his wife and “spiritual leader”, restaurant manager Samantha Fitzgerald. “Running a restaurant seven nights a week during the season is not great for a family of six,” Andrew says. “We just had to make some big decisions.” Now he spends his days less than five minutes drive away at Polperro Bistro, winemaker Sam Coverdale’s vineyard restaurant that offers family-friendly hours. “He and Emma used to come into The Long Table and we struck up a friendship,” Andrew says. “Then we catered their wedding. I have a lot of respect for Sam, his work ethic and the wines he makes. I’m a true believer in what he does.” It’s an excellent set-up for the Melburnian, who moved to the peninsula after Samantha interviewed him for a position at the Portsea Hotel. That was 17 years ago and the couple now live in nearby Mount Eliza with their four children — Lachlan, 12, Harrison, nine, and six-year-old twins Ashton and Isla. Although he never formally trained as a chef, Andrew has been around food his entire life; his grandfather was a greengrocer and his parents had a wholesale food business. “I spent holidays in a truck delivering food with my dad.” In his twenties, Andrew worked in kitchens overseas, including Terence Conran’s London restaurants. It’s a completely different scene to the one he finds himself in now, where he has fostered strong relationships with local growers, and established a kitchen garden at Polperro that lets him and his staff spend time planting and picking. “It needs to go beyond being regional,” he says of one of the food industry’s biggest trends. “Regional food is about the people and the surroundings as well. I’ve got a really strong focus on not only using the local produce, but creating something so that when people visit the peninsula they get a strong feeling of it.”
Polperro Bistro is at 150 Red Hill Road, Red Hill, Victoria. (03) 5989 2471; polperrowines.com.au FROM FAR LEFT Polperro Bistro has a deck overlooking the vines; Andrew enjoys lunch with his wife Samantha, their children Lachlan, Harrison, Ashton and Isla, and winemaker Sam Coverdale; Polperro’s dining room.