Earlier this year, Sydney hospitality giant Merivale shared some big news: plans for its first-ever Victorian venues. It’s taking over both the 1853-built Tomasetti House on Flinders Lane and historic Great Ocean Road pub the Lorne Hotel.

Over nearly 150 years, the spectacularly located pub has cemented itself as a Surf Coast icon, so who better than a local to head up the kitchen? It’s just been announced that, when Merivale takes the reins, Matt Germanchis will step in as executive chef.

He’s worked in some of Melbourne’s most prestigious restaurants, including Pei Modern, Movida, The Press Club and Pandora. But in 2016, he and partner Gemma Gange swapped the CBD for the Surf Coast, opening Captain Moonlite, a now-closed seafood-centric diner that quickly became a top Victorian restaurant. Its enduring, ever-popular offshoot, Fish by Moonlite, is a fish’n’chipper that punches well above its weight. And it’s proved to be a favourite among locals (and Melbourne chefs) for its stellar battered fish and potato cakes.

While Germanchis will “remain creatively involved” with Fish by Moonlite, his attention will soon shift to the Lorne Hotel. Broadsheet took five with him to chat future plans.

What’s your new job title?
Executive chef at the Lorne Hotel.

Why did you decide to join Merivale and the Lorne Hotel?
I saw it as an exciting new challenge, not only to work with Merivale, [which has] such a great reputation, but to be a part of creating an exceptional venue on an iconic road.

Do you have any plans or ideas for your new role?
I look forward to showcasing the incredible produce our region is known for. I want guests to have a fantastic day or few days away along the Great Ocean Road, and to pop into the Lorne Hotel to be treated to the experience a beachside hotel should offer. Great produce, beautifully cooked, in a fun environment.

Will you bring along any dishes or ideas you’re known for?
It’s only natural for a Greek to work with seafood, so there will be a strong focus on that. I’m really keen to continue my relationships with local producers – like the crayfish from Tim Harrington at Adventura Fresh Fish or organic vegetables from Tom [Gaunt] and Bridie [Cotter] at Kinsfolk Farm. Some things don’t need to be tricked up, so I’m looking forward to letting the Surf Coast produce speak for itself.

Will we see any cool dishes or ideas?
With a such a large precinct, it gives you the opportunity to have a broad offering. It will be fun to have a different identity on each of the levels. As for specific dishes, first and foremost it will be about quality and sense of place. Exactly the kind of food you want to eat by the sea with a few surprises along the way.

Merivale gets the keys to the Lorne Hotel later this year. The pub will trade as normal over summer and more details will be revealed in the coming months.