Collaborations can often bring out the most of one’s creativity, and nothing is truer than in this latest café hook-up. Salvatore Malatesta of St ALi is bringing in the big guns – namely Andrew Gale of the Duchess of Spotswood – to revitalise the South Melbourne café’s longstanding menu.

“We first spoke about it two years ago,” explains Gale. “He [Malatesta] used to come into Duchess and approached me then, but I wasn’t ready for it.”

But in January, when Gale phoned Malatesta for a casual catch-up, the offer returned to the table and the rest, as they say, is history. “It was right for me this time – it was right for me to do something else.”

The real challenge Gale faced when entering the St ALi kitchen was the existing menu and its overwhelming popularity. “St ALi has been there for eight years, so to go changing things too much would be mad. We’ve just refined things and made things more interesting. And you know Sal, he is passionate about his Mexican Cousin, so that will stay on the menu forever,” Gale laughs.

Though stepping away from the Duchess’ British roots somewhat, Gale’s commitment to innovation and dishes of the highest quality has made for a more seasonal, evolving menu. Amongst the kimchi scramble with spanner crab and salmon roe, miso-cured salmon with slow cooked fried eggs and the potato hash with mushroom truffle vinaigrette, there’s every chance Malatesta might just find a new favourite breakfast to eat.

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