When Scott Pickett answers the phone, he’s on a sailing ship off the coast of Tasmania’s Bruny Island learning about seafood with a group of fellow chefs led by Tetsuya Wakuda. You can practically feel the cold wind whipping down the line. But cold and wet are worlds away from what Pickett wants to achieve at Pastore, his just-announced diner focusing on the comforts of Italian and woodfired cooking.
When it opens at the $130 million Hotel Chadstone in November, Pastore will build on techniques developed at two recent Pickett openings – the celebrated South Yarra diner Matilda and Smith Street pasta joint Lupo.
“We didn’t want to do another Matilda and we didn’t want to do another Lupo, but we kind of liked both of those styles,” says Pickett. “So we thought we would do a wood-fuelled Italian brasserie. Things cooked on coals, in a Josper oven, a firepit, a rotisserie and a smoker – handmade pasta, grilled fish and large cuts of meat, too.”
Pastore (which means “shepherd” in Italian) will be led by Pickett and former Thirty Eight Chairs chef Mirco Speri. Despite the focus on woodfired and Italian cooking, it won’t have a pizza oven (although house-made breads will be baked daily). There’ll be tasting, à la carte and room service menus, all with some fire-cooked dishes.
“Understanding the fire is the biggest thing,” says Pickett about what he’s learned cooking at Matilda. “How we can subtly bring that into the food? Rather than just cooking over fire and flame, actually bringing that into the cuisine. Whether that’s through infusing with charcoal; or cooking in coal; smoking dairy, oil, fats and vinegars; finding different ways to not just cook on a flame.”
So at Pastore you can expect dishes such as wood-roasted king prawn with fermented tomato, ‘nduja and fennel pollen; 35-day dry-aged Bistecca alla Fiorentina; and some new experiments with filled pasta.
“We want to look at how we can cook filled pastas over the flame in broth, in brodo, and charring them,” says Pickett. “Almost like putting a billy on a campfire, but bringing it into an Italian realm.”
The bar and dining room will have room for 50 guests each. The design will incorporate a dusty pink palette, brass, reeded glass and timber.
Pastore will open at Hotel Chadstone, 1341 Dandenong Road, Chadstone on November 1.