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B RAYMOND CAPALDI


represented the UK at the culinary Olympics in Osaka. He went on to gain experience in some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the world including Gleneagles in Scotland, the Dorchester in London, the British Embassy in Moscow, the Park Lane Hong Kong and Hotel Sofitel in Melbourne to name a few. “I gained great experience in Russia,” Capaldi reminisces, but it was Melbourne that would leave a lasting impression. “The dining scene is probably the best in the world,” he says.


“I decided to come to Melbourne in 1991 to see a friend, and loved it so much – especially the food scene – that I decided this is where chefs should be.” With a clear vision and professional approach to the industry, Capaldi’s restaurant Fenix was acclaimed as soon as it opened in 2001. “The dining experience at Fenix was way ahead of its time – good and bad, whereas at Hare & Grace it was more back to basics.” Hare & Grace, which was


located in Melbourne’s chic Collins Street, opened in 2010 within an old


“You take inspiration from everywhere. Just because it works in London doesn’t mean it will work in Melbourne. Choose wisely”


Victorian bluestone butter factory building that had been transformed as part of the Rialto Tower complex. Hare & Grace had a popular outdoor terrace where many city workers loitered after hours on a sunny Melbourne evening.


Acclaimed designer Joost Bakker, one of Capaldi’s good friends, designed the refined interior. “Joost is someone I look up to, and I thought he would be the perfect person for the job,” he says. My brief to him was to keep it simple, but with some surprises along the way.”


Sketches from artist Barry Drinan were hung throughout the restaurant. “I chose Drinan’s work because I asked around and everyone recommended him as the best in the business,” Capaldi adds.


Hare & Grace was divided into


two areas, the Eatery and the Minibar, and each individual menu was designed by Capaldi. Throughout both spaces Capaldi’s signature aesthetic was “modern and traditional, questioning recipes and using modern equipment to make the food lighter and healthier”. He continues: “The food at Hare & Grace went from sophisticated to simple, but there’s always a technique in there to prompt guests to ask ‘how did they do that?’”


Capaldi acknowledges that technology plays a part in modern commercial kitchens. “It’s about whatever suits you and whatever you’re comfortable with.” He notes that not all chefs are comfortable with technology: “I use a lot of gadgets, but I’ve banned lots of them too as some chefs don’t know why they’re using equipment like the sous vide machine.”


Hands-on design approach Happy to be hands-on when it comes to kitchen design, Capaldi agrees a chef’s input is very important. “It has to be chefs that run their own kitchen.” Like most chefs he believes that the most crucial considerations are that a kitchen must flow and be easy to clean.


Unconcerned with political


correctness, Capaldi is honest when it comes to sustainability in kitchen design. “Sustainable – yes, to a certain point. But any good businessman will tell you that, if you can’t make money, you do the best you can and keep it real.” For Capaldi, a sense of place is what makes a restaurant a success, not just design. “You take inspiration from everywhere. Just because it works in London doesn’t mean it will work in Melbourne. Choose wisely.”


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