North East Living Magazine - - Contents -

Alex and Christa Smit from Al­bury’s The River Deck Café have found the per­fect place to set­tle down.

Alex and Christa Smit are lead­ing a team which brings food and ser­vice at a level equal to the views at Al­bury’s The River Deck Café.

AF­TER years of travel, Alex and Christa Smit have found the per­fect place to set­tle down. Bel­gium-born Alex has ex­pe­ri­enced all types of foods and cul­tures across the many coun­tries he’s lived in dur­ing his 43 years, in­clud­ing Canada, France, Malaysia and South Africa. He fin­ished school in Aus­tralia and at­tended Mel­bourne Univer­sity be­fore con­tin­u­ing to travel the world for an­other decade with a con­sult­ing firm.

Af­ter meet­ing Christa, the de­ci­sion to set­tle down in Al­bury was clear. Com­bined with op­er­at­ing a small busi­ness and look­ing af­ter young fam­ily mem­bers, they haven’t trav­elled much in the years since. In­stead, they’ve con­cen­trated on mak­ing The River Deck Café in Al­bury an ex­cit­ing food des­ti­na­tion.

The pair has op­er­ated The River Deck Café on the banks of the Mur­ray River since an op­por­tu­nity to lease the kiosk arose in 2011. At the time, it was open only from Novem­ber to April. How­ever, they had a vi­sion, which with the help of a re­de­vel­op­ment in 2014, trans­formed the kiosk into the mod­ern venue it is today.

“We wanted to show­case the mag­nif­i­cent park­lands on the Mur­ray River in Al­bury all year and pro­vide year-round em­ploy­ment for our great team,” Alex said.

“Hav­ing worked in hos­pi­tal­ity in Mel­bourne for sev­eral years and hail­ing orig­i­nally from Europe, we wanted to cre­ate a bistro-style venue where you could have a glass of wine, de­li­cious food and a beau­ti­ful out­look.”

One of Alex’s favourite fea­tures of the lo­ca­tion is the stun­ning view that changes to cre­ate unique and ex­cit­ing at­mos­pheres sea­son­ally. How­ever, it brings the chal­lenge of find­ing a menu that per­fectly com­ple­ments the out­look.

“Al­though I’m an avid cook at home, the cook­ing at the River Deck is done by a pro­fes­sional and hard­work­ing team,” he said.

“Our head chef, Ludo Baulacky, never rests his cre­ativ­ity and is al­ways look­ing for new dishes and ways to por­tray his love of food to our cus­tomers. Our chal­lenge is al­ways mak­ing sure that our food and ser­vice is equal to the view.

“We change our menu reg­u­larly to re­flect the sea­sons and avail­abil­ity of pro­duce and ex­pect to con­tinue that into the fu­ture. Tech­niques like sous vide and molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy af­ford us the abil­ity to re­frame in­gre­di­ents and present them to pa­trons in new ways.”

As is the case ev­ery year, spring is an ex­cit­ing time for the café. With fresh leaves on the trees and flow­ers blos­som­ing, comes fresh pro­duce to in­spire new dishes and ac­tiv­i­ties. A long lunch on the river­bank was held un­der the trees last spring to al­low pa­trons to cel­e­brate great lo­cal food and wine with good friends, and is likely to fea­ture on the pro­gram again this year.

words Freyja Postleth­waite photos Marc Bongers/ Mark Jesser/charlie Brown

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