When Vue de Monde is described as the restaurant for the ultimate big night out, you know it’s not mere hype. The location 55 floors up, the staggering food, the inventiveness in the kitchen and attention to detail from the staff on the floor add up to one of Australian dining’s unforgettable experiences.
And the restaurant for the ultimate big night out would not be complete without a bar to match it. That bar is called Lui, and the man at its head is Geoff Fewell, who in just three years has gone from bartender, to assistant manager, to Lui Bar’s first and only head bartender.
Originally from Canberra, Fewell honed his craft in his hometown. “I started working in hospitality during university. I finished my degree, a Bachelor of Arts – politics and philosophy – and decided I didn’t want a career as a public servant,” he smiles. While working behind the bar at the nationally respected Julep Lounge in 2011, Fewell got an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“One of my old managers – Dave Nguyen – sent me a message saying he needed staff here at Vue, so I moved down to Melbourne,” Fewell says simply.
“I saw it as a really good opportunity to move to a city that has a good bartending culture. Canberra has some good bars but it’s a small scene.”
After university, Fewell had spent time in America, and while the work he did there wasn’t what he’d describe as serious bartending, he experienced a cocktail culture he hadn’t seen before.
It was this culture that inspired his career, and which brought him to the Vue de Monde group. Immediately on arrival, things were very different. “Vue was a lot bigger, the crews we run are a lot larger than anything I’d experienced,” he says. “The amount of chefs, bartenders, waitstaff, and from a bartending perspective, the table service aspect was very different, then the technology and produce we get to experience is incredible.”
Working alongside the Vue de Monde kitchen means the Lui Bar team has access not just to incredible produce, but equipment such as blast chillers, liquid nitrogen, a rotary evaporator and other technology that helps keep Vue de Monde at the cutting edge of cuisine in this country.
Despite the opportunity to experiment, Fewell says it takes a lot to get a drink on the Lui Bar list. “Our drinks program is very carefully curated,” he says, and that’s where the group’s other venues come in. For several years, Vue de Monde have run a Friday night cocktail degustation at Café Vue on Little Collins Street, where young chefs and bartenders collaborate on monthly menus. “The mixology aspect is a little more free, it gives guys a chance to play with ingredients and flavours we wouldn’t use upstairs,” Fewell says, (“upstairs” referring to the 55th floor of the Rialto). “At Café Vue’s Mixology nights, the bartender and chef in charge for the month need to be responsible for the ordering, the stock, the whole run of the night. Myself and Cory (Campbell, Vue de Monde executive chef) will look over the menus, make comments and tweak and we’ll be there to try the menu and provide feedback, but it is for them to go out and make something excellent.”
Diners can experience the final Mixology event at Cafe Vue on December 19 before the series is reborn at Jardin Tan in February 2015. For staff, high-level mentorship is part of what makes a job at Vue de Monde so sought after. In hospitality, “People move about a lot, but we’ve got quite a few staff members who’ve been here for over a year now, and who understand ebb and flow in hospitality,” Fewell says. “We’re a tight-knit team.”
So what sort of person could make a career behind the bar or in the Vue de Monde kitchen? “We hire experienced bartenders who’d like to try something a bit different,” Fewell answers, “but we’re not afraid to hire young or inexperienced staff either, so long as the right attitude’s there.”
Vue de Monde is currently advertising a range of positions on Scout, Broadsheet's new jobs site. Scout focuses on the industries Broadsheet knows best - hospitality, media & marketing, creative services and retail - and is being used by the Vue de Monde group to find new members for their team. If that sounds like you, check out the opportunities and apply here.
HOSTPLUS is giving away an indulgent weekend for two at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival including a table at Vue de Monde and a helicopter flight to Yering Station in the Yarra Valley.
For your chance to win simply move your super together with HOSTPLUS.
(see hostplus.com.au for terms and conditions).