Hi, My Name Is: Florian Ribul

Published on 2 February 2021

Photo: Vex chef Florian Ribul

Florian Ribul just opened Vex Dining in Westgarth, along with fellow chef Rory Kennedy and front-of-house gun Owen Probert, bringing to life the trio’s dream of a casual venue that wears its principles on its sleeve while still having a good time. Prior to Vex, Ribul cooked at Host and Neighbourhood Wine in Melbourne, The Clove Club in London and around the south of Austria. He told us about his plans for Vex and what’s cooking now.

Hi, my name is Florian Ribul.

You might remember me from such establishments as Host, Neighbourhood Wine and Little Andorra. 

I’ve been cooking for 12 years, six of them in Melbourne.

My brief for my new gig is to showcase the best ingredients that are in season, in occasionally unconventional ways. I’m passionate about giving people something to think about through the interplay of bitter, sweet, sour, salt, smoke and more. It's fun to surprise people with slightly left-of-centre flavour profiles that keep you coming back for more, even if you can't explain it at that moment. You know, things that are maybe a little vexing... sorry! I also want to develop a hard-working and creative new venue with my partners Rory Kennedy and Owen Probert. We have some really fun plans for the future, but right now we're just making sure the basics are done well and that we’re running our business as ethically as we possibly can. 

Which means I’ll be cooking things like smoked and glazed turnips, which were a lot of fun while they were on the menu and definitely got some conversation going. It’s not often that you see turnips as a bar snack and these looked super-simple but were packed with flavour. Right now, we’re serving a bit of an “anti-tomato” dish: no fresh herbs, no vinegar, no oil, no fresh cheese. It's all shades of brown and red, because we blister and roast the tomatoes to the point of falling apart. They’re served with a caramelised whey dressing, linseed crisps and fresh horseradish, and are best eaten alongside our stockbrot, a sesame dough that’s wrapped around a skewer and grilled. 

I’d like you to come in and see us at Vex so you can experience a team of young professionals putting all their passion into their first venue. Vex is forever a work in progress and we can't wait to see where we end up. I'm so fortunate to be working with such talented people, there really aren't any limits (and certainly no rules). Whatever happens it'll be a whole lot of delicious fun. 

And if there’s one thing you can’t leave without trying, it’s probably the panisse: delicious fried pillows of fermented chickpea batter. Right now it's served cacio e pepe-style, with a generous grating of pecorino. It's immensely simple and comforting, and who doesn't love a little fried snack to start with? But if you want a treat, we do like to serve this dish another way, dusted with green onion, with crème fraîche and Yarra Valley smoked salmon caviar on the side to scoop onto each fritter. Just ask us about it when you order.

Book a table at Vex Dining now on 9191 7720 or vexdining.com. Want more? You can follow Flo’s adventures on Instagram at @flo_ribul or @we_are_vex.

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