Sebastian Pasinetti is the chef at Fitzroy’s Oko Rooftop and Cafe, which he runs with his mum and co-founder Lucy Pasinetti. He’s also one of the founders of Minds en Place, a Melbourne startup focused on helping hospitality businesses prepare their teams in terms of workplace wellbeing.

Sebastian started his career working front-of-house at Chin Chin in Melbourne and eventually found his way to London where he worked for Kelly’s Cause, a mental health foundation that trained people in the hospitality industry in mental health first aid.

“This is really where things got interesting,” he says. “I had been exposed to resources and education that challenged the entire system on which hospitality has been built. Taking this knowledge, I decided to launch my own restaurant group in Melbourne with my mum, exploring parts of my Italian and African heritage.”

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We caught up with Sebastian to find out his favourite spots around town including where he finds his favourite crispy pork banh mi, the Fitzroy bar where you should always order the Martini and why he loves Dragon Hot Pot.

What’s your go-to for a quick takeaway?
Definitely a crispy pork banh mi from Viet Rose Cafe on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy – iconic.

And for a drink and snacks?
Carlton Wine Room. Great snacks, delicious wine and the service is impeccable and unassuming.

If it’s a special occasion, where do you go?
Bar Liberty. Zack [Furst] and the team have absolutely outdone themselves recently. The tempura cauliflower and flatbread are so, so good and the wine list and cocktails are so intentional, well balanced and delicious. Get the house Martini, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re looking for inspiration?
Shu, a modern Chinese plant-based restaurant that explores so many cooking techniques and flavours with plant-based cuisine. Plus, it’s always ahead of the curve with presentation.

Best comfort food?
Would have to be Greta’s beef sandwich. Food for the soul.

If you’re recommending a spot for a first date?
Two bar seats up on the bar at Bahama Gold. Amazing cocktails and wine with the option of ordering a few bites from Old Palm Liquor – you’re going to want the flatbread, trust me.

If you have visitors from out of town?
Manze restaurant in North Melbourne. Wow, what a restaurant. I have not been exposed to much Mauritian food growing up, however Nagesh [Seethiah] and the team have completely blown us away every time with such exciting, fresh flavour combinations mixed in with delicious wine and incredible service. Manze is so consistent and a great place to show off the best of what Melbourne has to offer.

What’s your go-to hangover food?
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Dragon Hot Pot’s signature malatang is the best hangover cure. It’s so rich in spices, chilli and with three times the recommended amount of fish tofu cakes I can assure you your hangover will be sorted.

Where can you find your favourite dessert or sweet treat?
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but if I am deciding to indulge you can find me at Messina; I am a sucker for an ice-cream and they do it the best.

Bucket list restaurant?
Baba’s Place in Sydney’s inner west. I have followed them for a while and absolutely love to see what’s coming out of their kitchen and the vibe of their team and working culture.