Goodbye to The Summertown Aristologist, the “Whimsical Little Restaurant With a Strange Name” in the Adelaide Hills

The singular restaurant was only open for seven years, but “The Risty” (as it was cheekily known) made an indelible mark on the food and wine scene. In its final week of service, former staff and current friends reflect on its lasting impact.

Published on 14 December 2023

I celebrated my 30th birthday at The Summertown Aristologist. And my 31st. And my 32nd. I’ve cried there after a break-up, I kissed a date in the cellar, made lasting friendships and danced on the porch during many impromptu dance parties. Once, I was regaled with a colourful account of co-owner Aaron Fenwick’s birth after striking up a conversation with his mum.

The Aristologist is more than a restaurant. It was a community builder: a conduit for connections and relationships and memories to form. It was about so much more than just its food. But there was that too, of course: plates of house-churned butter smothered over sourdough, the excess crumbs given new life dusted over Jerusalem artichoke pie or rolled into passatelli pasta. There was the house-made charcuterie, cheese experiments, lacto-ferments, pickles and garums, and organic veggies grown at The Patch on co-owner Anton van Klopper’s property.

When Fenwick, van Klopper and fellow winemaker Jasper Button opened the doors in 2016, “natural wine” was still a curiosity (or complete unknown) for most diners. It soon became the centre of a thriving community, and the Aristologist an incubator for a revolving door of young-gun chefs. They toiled in the garden as well as the kitchen, each duo helping to shape and strengthen the DNA.

Owners Jasper,Aaron and Anton. Photography Morgan Sette
As the restaurant enters its final week and says “ciao ciao” for the last time in its current guise, those past chefs, former staff and current friends reflect on their time there.

Tom Campbell, co-head chef, 2019-2022

I started hearing about this mystical and whimsical little restaurant with a strange name that was set to open in the Hills. They were growing vegetables, milling grain, making cheese, curing meats and fermenting vegetables. A far cry from most restaurants I’d experienced where vegetables arrived wrapped in plastic, meat came in as singular prize cuts and fish came from who knows where.

A lot changed for me in the first visit I had to the Aristologist, a short time after opening, when Tom [Edwards] and Nath had the reins. I’d never had vegetables quite like that, prepared with such care, delicate finesse and simplicity; the bread and butter, complex and full of flavour; and the various cured meats and fresh cheeses and fish all shared the same simplicity and care … I realised in that moment this was what I wanted to do – make cheese, grow vegetables, mill grains, see things through from start to finish carrying the same philosophy and care even when it would be far easier to take a different route.

I had many, many visits after this, when Ollie [Edwards] and Bree [Smith] put their own spin on it (where I first got to do an occasional cameo in the kitchen) and later when Ethan [Eadie] and I were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to take the wheel and take it down our own winding, undulating road.

Under Edwards and Smith – partners in work and life who moved over from Melbourne to take over the kitchen – the restaurant went from strength to strength. But for the pair, who went on to cook at Hazel in Melbourne and now Bar Merenda in Daylesford, it’s the Hills’ all-in nature they’ll remember most.

Oliver Edwards, co-head chef 2017-2019

The Summertown Aristologist was a unique place to cook, always abuzz with a special energy. There were the parties, events, international winemakers, and guest chefs, sure. But the thing that really stands out for me looking back was the sense of community. It was locals coming in with baskets of walnuts, quinces or lemons from their gardens. An invitation to come and pick from a fig tree laden with fruit. A hint dropped about a great “secret” porcini spot. A local winemaker’s daughter, grinning ear-to-ear as she walked through the door with a basketful of pine mushrooms she’d picked.

Brianna Smith, co-head chef 2018-2019

For me, growing vegetables at the patch at Anton’s and foraging in the hills throughout the seasons is what made it truly unique. I loved the community vibe we had there and made some wonderful friends. It was an inspiring environment to be in and one where I learnt to make cheese, bake sourdough and make charcuterie.


It felt like everyone was willing to be both student and teacher. Monthly, a ragtag gang of chefs would come up from “town” to help break down a pig. Together we would butcher, cure, stuff and truss before sitting down to a great long table lunch and then sending everyone home with a few kilos of sausages as a thank you. Visiting cheesemakers would stop in and share their knowledge, making delicate soft lactic cheeses or more substantial tommes from local milk. Recipes were shared, pickles and ferments were exchanged, and many a bottle of wine enjoyed – international superstar wines and home-made garage projects alike. Anyone and everyone who wanted to come and help in “the patch” would be welcomed and fed and put to work.

They’re memories shared by former restaurant manager Sarah Feehan, who went on to start her own wine label, Parley, with friends Mel Gray (who she met while picking fruit at Commune of Buttons) and Jocelyn Mihalynuk (who worked at the Aristologist cellar door).

Sarah Feehan, former restaurant manager

I think the most enduring memories will be of the friendships formed. I looked forward each year to meeting the new harvest crews. People who would travel from all corners to this tiny wine region at the bottom of the world and share their time and love for natural wine with us. That little dining room would fill to the brim with so much warmth and joy when our neighbours popped in with fruits, herbs and vegetables that they grew and wanted to share. Relationships blossomed and families grew and the Aristologist was where you could stop, catch up and reconnect.
Tom Campbell and Ethan Eadie in the garden. Photography: Max Veenhuyzen
It was not without its challenges, from lean spring harvests that made you appreciate the true value of every little crooked vegetable and leaf we picked, to breaking down whole cows and trying to figure out how to use every last piece. There were euphoric and ecstatic moments of tasting vegetables fresh from the ground still beaded in morning dew, and crushing moments seeing whole crops wiped out by birds or bugs or torrential rain. It was a time of learning and cooking at the absolute mercy of the seasons, working with what we had in that moment and nothing more! It was frugal at times – no more garlic! No onions! Then there were bountiful moments – the great squash glut of 2021, and the surplus of green tomatoes and the scramble to preserve them that followed.

The great garlic shortage also stuck with Eadie, who decided to write a haiku about it.

Ethan Eadie, co-head chef, 2019-2022

Timeless summer lunch
One more glass of pét-nat please
Dang! Out of garlic!

The highs and lows of The Patch also remain with chef Jude Hughes – who steered the kitchen with Calum Horn after Campbell and Eadie’s departures – before he and Horn went on to cook at Longplay.

Jude Hughes

My tenure at the Aristologist will probably be defined by the sensations and memories of the seasons. Arriving at the farm on my first week in January with Calum, the heat was amazing, dry and overwhelming. But wild blackberry bushes hung over the dusty road laden with fruit, and wild plums were being devoured by noisy parrots. The menu lay in front of Calum and I, tucked somewhere in the rows of fruit, vegetables and weeds. Every week that contemplative and slightly nerve-racking moment at the patch visioning what we would cook was a real and rare buzz. A fortunate moment to have had in this sometimes industrial industry. Winter was less romantic.

Calum Horn

On my first meal at the Aristologist, my wife cried at how perfect it was. On my last day I shed a tear at leaving such a special place. And on the Risty’s last day, my newborn son will probably cry.

The dining moments – enough to reduce some to tears – were memorable on their own, but they’re difficult to separate from the care and cultivation that preceded them.

Katie Spain, writer

I’ll never forget visiting the restaurant’s organic Basket Range farm with Anton in the very early days. I’ve never seen anyone slice a cucumber so slowly. Anton stopped regularly to ponder the rhythms of the farm and its surrounds. I ended up cancelling my commitments that afternoon – some conversations simply can’t be disrupted!

Co-owners and winemakers Anton van Klopper, Jasper Button and Aaron Fenwick were a dream team of sorts, and their commitment to the natural wine scene was unwavering. The super lo-fi approach wasn’t a hit with every diner, but that was part of the appeal. I loved watching diners’ faces as wine was poured and reactions rippled across the tree house of a space.

The conversations that flowed over tumblers of natty unicorns were equally challenging and important. The Summertown Aristologist challenged the public at a time when we needed it. Chefs came and went, but the synergy between the wine and the menu was always seamless.

It will be genuinely missed, especially the guest chef shindigs and late-night afterparties and dance-offs (thanks to Mark Kamleh’s stellar tunes). We were fortunate to be acquainted.*

Speaking of those Mark Kamleh-led dance floors, one Covid-era boogie will remain in mind for many. Not least because his DJ booth was a 1994 Ford Capri.

Mark Kamleh

Parked on the grass out front from the early arvo, I was playing songs to diners enjoying their lunch while I also ate my lunch in the car. Before the last sitting ended, I started playing dance floor-encouraging tunes – the crowd didn't need much. Dance floors had been outlawed in our state and people wanted to shake their booties. People were dancing inside while their dessert was coming out, and others were scattered throughout the birch trees. Things were going swimmingly until SAPOL arrived.

One of the officers said they got a noise complaint; out of politeness I lowered the volume. I checked my watch, five minutes before 10pm. I thought that noise complaints only matter after 10pm, so I questioned the officer about it. He said I was right. I politely asked to put the volume up and promised to turn it off at 10pm. The officers accepted and I turned up the volume. The crowd thought I was defying police orders as I blasted Madonna's Like a Prayer while their red and blue disco lights lit the dance floor for another five minutes.

From one DJ to another. Broadsheet Perth’s editor-at-large Max Veenhuyzen has spun records at the Aristologist, he’s snapped photos, he’s wined and dined there, and he’s become intimately acquainted with the place and its people.

Max Veenhuyzen

On paper, the Aristologist is a venue very much in tune with the wine bar zeitgeist. The menu is vegetable-forward; the restaurant has its own farm; the cellar is filled with wines that are unfined, unfiltered and made from grapes grown with care; and community is always at the forefront of everything that the Risty turns its hand to. But despite having lots in common with forward-thinking venues across the world, the Aristologist is a singular, standalone prospect, largely because the crew here rep the Adelaide Hills to the fullest.

Whether it’s chefs gathering wild garlic off the side of the road or the space doubling as the cellar door for local vignerons and Risty owners Aaron (Chateau Comme Ci Comme Ca), Anton (Lucy M) and Jasper (Commune of Buttons), team Aristologist proudly leveraged its home court advantage and we were the winners.

The Risty is a restaurant that could only exist in Summertown. The Adelaide Hills are part of the Aristologist, and the Aristologist is part of the Adelaide Hills. And once the doors close on this brilliant, thrilling and heartfelt space, those Hills will no doubt feel a little less alive. I guess it’s up to us to make sure we send off the Risty good and proper.*


It’s so hard to see this beautiful restaurant close its doors. It has been central to the Hills community and beyond, bringing friends together with nourishing food and soulful experiences. The team there has given so much of themselves over the past eight years and to stand at the pass and chat with the chefs is something I will miss dearly.

Lots of love to Anton, Jasper and Aaron – they really gave each of us so much space to make our own little mark on the place. And to everyone who made the Risty such an institution: the team, the locals, the winemakers and the farmers. A restaurant is a living organism and so many beautiful people brought it to life every day.


I’m so grateful I had the chance to share this journey with so many people and to carry on the philosophy and ideas that Anton, Jasper and Aaron set out to achieve from the start. You will be missed.*

Olivia Moore, Loc

A very important place I will forever miss – full of some of my favourite food, people and memories. They created something very special up there.*


Anton, Jasper and Aaron created a beautiful, special place and the community not only embraced it but also contributed to it themselves in so many ways. Long live the Aristologist!
Photography: Max Veenhuyzen