Before taking up the position of Senior Sous Chef, and now Head Chef, in The Restaurant, Michael learnt the important techniques of wood fired cookery and fermentation at Melbourne’s much-loved Embla. Bringing everything he learned, along with his equally powerful love for food, wine and the ocean, Michael arrived in Red Hill with a very clear vision: create thoughtful dishes utilising the very best of the estate, cook beautiful food every single day and work with awesome people. He’s absolutely hit the trifecta. When he’s not in the kitchen or the gardens, Michael is completing his WSET Level 2, or spending time at the beach.
What does your perfect day at Montalto look like?
My perfect day at Montalto looks like any day in late summer. Here’s how that looks for me...
Get in early, make a double espresso, jump in the Kubota and take a tour of the estate gardens – picking zucchini, blackberries and tomatoes along the way.
Whizz back up to The Restaurant for another double espresso and jump into the kitchen to smash out some prep and get started cooking lots of beautiful food over our wood fired grill. My favourite dishes from last summer were…
Zucchini grilled and marinated in burnt bay leaf oil, served with a rich almond cream and lots of fresh mint from the garden.
Tomatoes sliced just before service, tossed with fresh figs and a dressing made from fig leaves.
As for the blackberries: served alongside late season rhubarb with fior de latte ice cream.
After service, a quick, efficient clean down and then straight to the beach for a swim. Rinse and repeat.
If you had to pick one Montalto wine to drink forever, which one would it be, and why?
I’ve been loving our 2022 Montalto Savagnin as a knockoff as of late.
I love Savagnin from its natural habitat of Jura, France and I love seeing new expressions of the grape variety. I’m a huge fan of its beautiful acidity and bone-dryness I find it goes well with fish, poultry and cheese, with its lovely nuttiness on the nose and minerality on the palate.
Our Savagnin is beautifully weighted, it sits perfectly with some BBQ’d rainbow trout or a classic roast chook.
I also love the story about Savagnin on the peninsula and its mysterious beginnings.
What’s your favourite season? And your favourite estate-grown produce from that season?
Winter! I love the assortment of brassicas, especially sugarloaf cabbages - such a beautiful vegetable with their beautiful cone-shaped appearance and sweet flavour. Absolutely amazing with a touch of wood smoke and fire.
Your favourite little-known fact about Montalto to share with visitors?
We have wild watercress growing in our estate waterways – a true sign of just how pure the water is across the property.
Top tip on the Peninsula?
Wok On Bay in Mount Martha - my go-to, old-school Chinese restaurant serving all the classics and are BYO.