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Pedigree, Progression and Panini – What It’s Like To Work at an Iconic Melbourne Institution

We catch up with the team at Brunetti Classico to find out what makes the staff tick and why they come into work every day.

Speaking generally, you can place most of Melbourne’s hospitality venues into two categories. There are traditional institutions that have been around forever, finding a formula that works and sticking to it. And there are modern, boundary-pushing venues that strive to create never-before-seen approaches to food, workplace culture and more.

A venue that nails one of these categories tends to succeed. Only a handful of places can do both. Long-time Carlton favourite Brunetti Classico falls into both groups – the Italian cafe, restaurant, pastry shop, pizzeria and events space has become a local institution by perfecting an old-school approach to service with proven processes it has followed for decades. But the brand’s flexible, modern approach to staff training, career pathways and progression opportunities has allowed it to remain progressive behind-the-scenes and flourish since it opened more than 30 years ago.

We spent some time with the crew at Brunetti Classico to learn about their career progression opportunities, hear about modern training techniques and see how one of Melbourne’s favourite venues operates.

Brunetti Classico demi chef Calvin Yong is the first employee we catch up with and a perfect example of the eclectic career pathways that the brand offers. Yong has worked at Brunetti Classico for seven years and has gained a variety of hospitality skills that have built his industry toolkit into one of the most well-rounded we’ve seen.

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“Everything I’ve learned here has been tailored to me,” Yong says. “My communication skills weren’t always strong, so people recognised that and put steps in place both on-the-job and with training programs to help me improve. The other side of that is my strength in cooking – my supervisors here also saw that and allowed me to build on it and step into this chef position.”

Yong started at Brunetti Classico as a dishwasher. Noticing his work ethic and initiative, his manager decided to offer Yong some floor shifts, where he excelled in a customer-facing role. This led to him being promoted into a team leader role before being offered a supervisor position. While he worked the floor, Yong also studied commercial cookery in his free time. Now, he’s training in the kitchen as a demi chef with the aim to one day run his own operation.

“They promote internally here and there’s a focus on equipping people with a broad range of skills so that we can take our careers in whichever direction we want,” Yong says. “Like me, you can work the front-of-house and gain experience there, then if you want to learn more about cooking you can step into the kitchen and get culinary training. Plenty of people learn the business management side of things as well, so I’m sure that eventually one of my teammates will open their own venue with what they’ve picked up here.”

Yong’s progression has developed naturally over time with his evolving career aspirations. One of his co-workers Sam Tucker has progressed rapidly by impressing in each role she’s tried her hand at and showing a desire to become a young leader within the venue.

Tucker joined the Brunetti Classico team around two years ago, identifying the venue famous for its Italian biscuits, coffee and desserts as the perfect place to build on her culinary training as a pastry chef. She started as a casual barista and quickly stepped into a leadership position behind the busy coffee bar. After falling in love with a customer-facing role, Tucker made it clear that she wanted to pursue a front-of-house pathway and the team was able to pivot and accommodate her from there.

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“I always knew Brunetti Classico would be a great place for a pastry chef – it just makes sense, right? But once I started serving customers I fell in love with the front-of-house role,” Tucker says. “I had worked in other cafes and restaurants and I never really enjoyed working a customer-facing position, but the flow of service, the team and the environment here all clicked for me enough that it changed my mind regarding a career direction I thought I was settled on.”

Tucker and Yong aren’t the only two Brunetti Classico employees who have picked up a broad skill set with the brand. Tucker says the venue’s layout and eclectic offering is a big contributor to the culture of learning and progression.

“It’s just something you can’t get anywhere else, this environment where you’re two weeks into slinging coffees, nestled between someone with decades of experience in pizza-making on one side and an expert pastry chef on the other – and everyone is so willing to share knowledge.”

Complementary to the venue’s multifaceted offering are the management training programs. Tucker says these are helping set her up with the skills to lead a team and even run her own venue one day.

“I receive structured training sessions on things such as rostering, stock management, accounting and recruitment,” she says. “The programs in place here equip you with enough skills to run a restaurant, with a mix of training both during your shifts and with some online learning.”

Tucker is currently working as a front-of-house supervisor but has plans to move into management when she feels she’s acquired all the skill she needs – something that the entire team at Brunetti Classico is helping her achieve.

After spending time at Brunetti Classico, it becomes apparent that knowledge sharing is at the core of how the business operates. It’s an Italian family tradition for a Nonna to pass on recipes to the grandkids while they stand on a dining chair next to the stove. This culture permeates through the venue, and you get that sense that no question is too silly to ask. Tucker says this is a common feeling amongst the staff.

“It’s rare to get so much crossover between sections when a venue can do so many things as well as we do,” Tucker says. “I’m working next to people who are so friendly and approachable and always happy to teach me what they’re doing – I’m always soaking up knowledge from everyone around me. The energy I feel coming here every day is something you can’t get anywhere else.”

If Brunetti Classico sounds like the type of venue you’d like to work at, you’re in luck. They’re hiring for multiple positions at the moment. Apply below.

Assistant Manager

Head Barista

Patisserie Chef de Partie

This article is produced by Scout Jobs in partnership with Brunetti Classico.

Photography by Amy Hemmings

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