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This Drinks-Focused Hospitality Group Is on a New Mission To Dish Up Some of Melbourne's Best Food. Here’s Why They’ll Be Successful

Made In The Shade has long been a drinks-first hospitality group – and they’re exceptional at it. Now, the team has a new venue with an Italian chef at the helm leading the charge towards serving the best food in the city. Here’s why it’ll work, plus how you can join the crew.

When someone mentions Made in The Shade, you think drinks. Ambitious cocktails, moody bars and rollicking good times – there’s plenty of evidence to support the claim that the group is the best in the business when it comes to cocktails. The team is behind venues such as The Everleigh, Heartbreaker and Bar Margaux – the latter being the group’s first foray into a bar/restaurant hybrid.

Following the success of Bar Margaux, the crew at Made in The Shade realised they could create food-centric venues that were on par with their premium drinks-focused spots. Now, the group is shifting its focus to offer punters some of the best food in Melbourne.

The plan of attack is simple enough: new venue, new Italian chef and new staff. The venue is Connie’s Italian Diner – an old-school, family-style Italian trattoria and rooftop terrace housed above Heartbreaker in the CBD. There’s a healthy dose of 80’s Italian nostalgia here – dark red walls, movie posters, a jukebox, checked tablecloths and a disco ball; to match a comfort-food-focused Italian menu.

The chef is Matteo D’Elia – an Italian-born kitchen gun with 15 years of hospo experience in Michelin-starred restaurants under his belt. And the staff – that’s where you come in. We caught up with D’Elia to hear what’s in store for the new venue and why working there could be a career-defining move for you.

Matteo D’Elia has worked as a chef of different levels in kitchens across Europe in Italy, London and Amsterdam. He moved to Melbourne for a new challenge and said his initial interest in Made in The Shade came because of the drinks program.

“I saw the bars here and the way they were run – they’re on another level to what I’m used to. The level at which the drinks offering operates suggests they’re a really well-run company,” he says. “I think this company can teach me all the skills ill need to run my own venue one day, and I love that I can learn that here. It’s a great place to pick up career advancement skills.”

While the wealth of knowledge and training structures on offer at Made in The Shade will help D’Elia take steps in his career, the experience he brings to the group means they’re putting their best foot forward on their mission to be one of Melbourne’s best food groups.

“I want to hire people who are willing to learn and take over the kitchen one day. I like to train staff to the point where they can run a kitchen on their own and they don’t need me around,” he says. “I’ll transfer as much knowledge as I can, I’ll give written recipes and direction, I’ll be a presence in the kitchen all the time and lead by example – I think this is the best way to pass on what I know.”

Made in The Shade has always had a strong focus on career progression opportunities for its staff. D’Elia says structured and tailored training programs for each staff member at Connie’s can provide pathways that are as long and ambitious as you want them to be – perfect for hospo staff who want to forge a successful career in the industry.

“We have different programs for different positions, with various tasks to complete. Each staff member will be given tasks each week to help with their training. When I see them achieve the required skill then they go to the next step of the program,” he says. “This venue is going to be awesome for hospitality people with a plan and some ambition to grow.”

As well as his practical kitchen knowledge and training plans, D’Elia offers some tips to young hospitality staff who are interested in getting on board at Connie’s – an insight into the experience and wisdom available for employees.

“I tell young staff several things: have a plan and don’t settle; don’t give up, believe in yourself and if you fail then try things again from another angle. Study and research – if you don’t have an answer then find it out. Don’t settle for not knowing, you can always find things out,” he says. “Pay attention to your duties, don’t be careless. And communication is the key for any relationship in life – work, family and friends. Be impactful with your words, life is a group effort, especially in a kitchen.”

Despite all the career-centric reasons D’Elia is excited about Connie’s, he says one of his favourite aspects of the venue was feeling close to home as soon as he got involved.

“It’s Italian, I feel at ease here. The moment you step in this restaurant it feels familiar and inviting. You’re stepping into an Italian restaurant that’ll take care of you and serve great food, too. It feels like home.”

If D’Elia’s career pathway or the team at Connie’s sounds like one you’d be interested in, you’re in luck. Made in The Shade is hiring across several different positions and venues. You can check out job opportunities here.

Photography: Ben Moynihan

This article is produced by Scout Jobs in partnership with Made in The Shade.

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