Australian Traveller



Tasmania has gained another destinatio­n diner with the launch of celebrated chef Massimo Mele’s latest venture, Peppina. Tucked into Hobart’s sophistica­ted new hotel The Tasman, a hybrid of architectu­ral styles that is creating quite the buzz, the menu will equally combine the dishes of Mele’s Italian heritage with the best Tassie produce and ingredient­s. Here, we catch up with the chef (pictured above left, with Peppina head chef Glynn Byrnes) on the eve of opening to find out what diners can expect. How will you make the most of Tasmania’s excellent produce?

Putting quality produce at the front and centre represents the foundation of my style of cooking. We are fortunate to have access to some of the best produce in the world, from ethically grown vegetables to extraordin­ary seafood, with the opportunit­y to work with families and producers who are passionate about their craft and have integrity. For me these connection­s I have built with my growers is personal, and I spend a huge amount of time talking to them to see what we can use... not just reacting to what is in market. The dishes on the menu will change often based on what’s available and in season. paint a picture of peppinA.

I want to capture the nostalgic feeling of an old-world Italian osteria and the simplicity and generosity of Italian food culture that I had growing up, done with a local Tasmanian take that showcases our incredible produce. We will have seasonal pastas made in-house, incredible seafood cooked on the grill, local artisan charcuteri­e and Italian antipasti, which will all be very seasonal and inspired by what produce is available. I want Peppina to be a place where both locals and travellers feel comfortabl­e.

What dishes are you most excited about presenting to diners?

I’m excited to bring back some nostalgic dishes like the fried pizza. For me, growing up in Italy, the street food is what you always looked forward to before dinner. The salty sourdough pizza will be one of the first things you eat at Peppina and will set the scene before we serve the meats cooked over the fire pit and incredible seafood. What will the wood-fired oven and fire pit add to the Peppina experience?

Cooking on a wood-fired grill is a style that embraces my heritage and the traditiona­l values of Italian cooking. My earliest memories of food are centred around my family’s wood-fired oven. We would bake bread in the oven and then slow-cook meats and lots of veg and porchetta. It represents going back to basics and cooking peppers and onions in the wood-fired oven like Nonna’s in Italy: country-style cooking. What’s the most thrilling thing about starting a new restaurant, and the most intimidati­ng?

When you’ve spent such a long time working really hard to get everything right and it’s a project you’ve been so passionate about, the thrilling feeling and pride of opening the doors for the first time is like nothing else! But opening day and having those first guests come in is also one of the scariest parts. There is a lot of pressure to make sure that absolutely everything is perfect and that I’ve created a space that people will love to come to.

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