“My menus are driven by the classic Italian idea of simple food done well.”
There was a time when Adam Mead wanted to be a professional cyclist and he spent much of his teens intensely concentrating on racing. When that particular dream didn’t pan out this ability to give his all to whatever he was pursuing came in handy when he “fell into cooking” and very quickly realised he really liked it.
After working as an apprentice and washing dishes in a caravan park restaurant in Queensland, Adam found another job at a French restaurant in Brisbane where the head chef spotted his talent and encouraged him to get some experience overseas. It was while working in the UK and, especially in Italy (including a stint at Il Marchesino restaurant housed in Milan’s famed La Scala Opera House) where he honed his pasta making and risotto skills that Adam really began to embrace the Italian approach to cooking.
“It’s not complicated food,” he says. “We want to give people high quality fresh products and we like to make everything ourselves as much as possible. I very much believe in core skills like butchery and baking and making things from scratch.”
It seems like he’s landed the right place. Locale is all about the seasonal and the regional and with extensive veggie gardens on the Yarra Valley Estate and the surrounding countryside full of top quality producers, plus a kitchen equipped with one of the best pasta making machines around, the boxes have all been ticked.
Adam says that precision in a kitchen is the key, something he learned while working in kitchens in Italy.
“Everything you can do to improve in the kitchen – no matter how small – improves the product. Everything,” he says.
"One of the best food and wine matches I know is the Vinoque Roundstone Gamay Noir served with homemade pasta tossed with slow braised duck and mushrooms."
Adam’s most memorable meal was in the Italian Alps in the middle of winter, a simple dish of polenta, honey glazed chestnuts and lardo.