Published on 19 September 2019
Chyka Keebaugh has built on the Big Group, Design Depot and Capital Kitchen catering and events companies she founded with her husband Bruce Keebaugh to become a business, events-styling and social-media phenomenon. She starred in three series of The Real Housewives of Melbourne, edits her own online magazine, chyka.com, and somehow finds the time to write books as well. Her latest, Chyka Celebrate, published by Hardie Grant, is on shelves now.
My defining food moment in Melbourne was probably the golden era of Fanny’s in the city. It was such a beautiful restaurant and a place that always made you feel so special. They used to cook nine perfect squared chips that sat on each other in a block that was perfection, plus a chocolate soufflé to die for. The staff were incredible, and it was the first time I realised how going out for dinner wasn’t just about the food.
I know I’m in Melbourne when I come home from an overseas trip and I get a perfect coffee and smashed avocado on toast from one of my favourite places, Kanteen. I know we’re obsessed with coffee in Melbourne, but truly it is the best in the world.
The best new thing I’ve found is LaManna & Sons at Vogue Plaza. I’m obsessed with this amazing deli, fruit and vegetable market and mini market; the variety of food is incredible and it’s a family-run business that is run with love and passion. I can always find what I can’t elsewhere, and I become inspired by the amazing array of produce.
When I want to push the boat out on a meal, I go to Oasis Bakery in Carnegie. I love all things Middle Eastern and this amazing shop is full of delicious herbs, spices, traditional Turkish delight, halva and breads. Making Moroccan food is fun and easy and can always be displayed in a really exciting way.
There’s no better value in Melbourne than a Johnny Ripe cronut, it’s a taste sensation that just never disappoints. Pure joy.
When I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to go to Donovan’s in St Kilda. Sitting by the water and watching the passing traffic is just so much fun. The decor is beautiful and considered, the food experience is very Australian, and it’s always consistent. The view blows everyone away and the bombe Alaska is a true delight.
And when I want to take a little taste of Victoria when I travel, I pack Meredith’s goat’s cheese. I’m obsessed with this and we have a couple of jars in the fridge at all times. To me this is a staple that makes everything from a salad, toast, smashed avocado or pasta taste amazing. I have it literally every day.
In the mornings you’ll find me drinking a good coffee. I usually get a takeaway after I leave the gym and sit in my car to FaceTime my kids in New York. It’s the end of the day for them, so there’s always a lot to talk about. I also love a superfood breakfast salad bowl from Moby in High Street Armadale. Apart from being delicious, it makes me feel like I’ve started the day the right way.
My local is Di Stasio. It’s not really technically local for us, but this is the place that we love the most in Melbourne. The food is incredible, they make a great Negroni and whatever the chef is cooking that day is perfection. I love that we can go here and eat at the restaurant or at the bar and the experience is always wonderful.
If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be I actually wouldn’t change anything. I love our food and wine culture in Melbourne and think we do it just so well. There are so many different options available and the one thing Melbourne like to share is its favourite places to eat.
The one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is our unique cultural areas and their great food and produce. Whether it’s Richmond for Vietnamese grocers and cafes, Carlton for great Italian or Oakleigh for amazing Greek, it’s all there. I love the authenticity of these places and how alive they all are.
Chyka Celebrate by Chyka Keebaugh ($40, Hardie Grant) is on sale now. Follow Chyka's further adventures on Instagram at @chykak.
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