How I Melbourne: Scott Pickett

Published on 9 December 2020

Scott Pickett has been feeding Melbourne for more than a decade, covering upscale fine-dining, wood-fired Australiana, bistro-influenced comfort food and Italian with a local twist.

Never afraid of reinvention, Pickett’s first restaurant, Estelle, has evolved from tasting-menu bistronomy to more relaxed classics with a detour to elevated fine-dining along the way. Most recently, it operated as a takeaway-only shopfront during lockdown. The good news is the doors are back open not just at Estelle, but also at Matilda, Pickett’s Deli and Pastore, and at the newest member of the Pickett family, Longrain. This month Pickett’s latest project, Chancery Lane, will open in the CBD, offering European bistro fare such as poulet au cidre and raspberry and gin baba.

My defining food moment in Melbourne was dining at Est Est Est in the mid 90s. I was 20 or 21 and it completely blew my mind. Donovan and Philippa were cooking at their peak and the energy was amazing. It felt like that raw, Marco Pierre White energy that at the time only really existed in London. But it was pouring out of this little restaurant with a red door in South Melbourne.

I know I’m in Melbourne when I'm only down the road from a great cup of coffee, a stunning meal or carefully designed cocktails.

The best new thing I’ve found is the art of fermenting. We recently made our own wine-based vinegars at Estelle. One flavoured with raspberry, one with IPA and another that's a tarragon white wine vinegar. Something we've been doing at Estelle and Matilda for a long time is lacto-fermentation for our fermented black truffles, but we've just starting playing around with fermenting chillies and are back to making our own kimchi, which will make a comeback in a toastie in 2021.

There’s no better value in Melbourne than a “feed me” lunch at Mamasita or a bowl of pho in the streets of Footscray. Pho Chu The on Hopkins Street is one of my favourites.

And when I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to go on a food tour around Melbourne, visiting markets and delis, then hitting at least three venues for a progressive lunch that turns into dinner. My go-to venues at the moment are Poodle, a new spot on Gertrude Street, Carlton Wine Room and Longrain to finish with a Thai feast.

In the mornings you’ll find me at Pilates.

If you looked in my fridge, you might be surprised to find nasty, cheap stuffed olives - I can't get enough of them.

The last awesome Victorian thing I drank was kimchi tonic by The Fermentary in Daylesford.

My local is Tinker. It's my go-to for a morning coffee before walking next door to Estelle. 

If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be nothing. But funnily enough one of the things I do love most is that the scene is always changing.

But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is that you're never more than a few steps away from an amazing bar, restaurant or food experience.

You can celebrate New Year’s with Scott and the Matilda crew as part of New Year Street Feasts on 31 December and 1 January. Keep up with Scott’s adventures at @scottpickettchef and find out what’s happening at each of his venues via pickettandco.com.

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