We chatted with the Italian surfer-turned-restaurateur Stefano De Blasi from Salt Meats Cheese
Tell us about Salt Meats Cheese?
Established in 2012, Salt Meats Cheese is a family-owned Italian restaurant group and purveyor of gourmet Italian produce, with eight restaurants in New South Wales and Queensland – including venues at Haven Newstead, South Bank and Surfers Paradise – and Bar Ombre Rooftop Bar in Sydney.
The cousin duo behind Salt Meats Cheese, Stefano De Blasi and Edoardo Perlo share a mutual passion for honest cooking using quality ingredients and creating memorable culinary experiences for Australians.
What are your 3 most popular dishes?
- Gnocchi truffle mushroom and ricotta.
- Handmade saffron arancini served with smoked paprika.
- Handmade hazelnut Tiramisu.
Where did the name Salt Meats Cheese come from?
When we first started the business we used to import salt from Trapani in Sicily, cured meats from the south of Italy, and cheeses from Veneto and Emilia Romagna.
They used to be the top three products we used to sell in our first venue, a grocery shop – which was very different to the restaurants we have today.
What’s it like working with your cousin Edoardo Perlo?
We lived together during our university time, moved to Australia together, worked in the same venues before opening our own business. So, it doesn’t feel like we’re working together, it’s like sharing everyday life with one of your brothers.
Tell us about the Amalfi Seafood Saturdays?
I was in Amalfi this past August with my four childhood friends, we sat down in Amalfi and started ordering so much seafood that the table was to small and the waiter started stagging it on the pizza tower to create different levels. This is where the idea for Amalfi Seafood Saturday started.
What’s going to replace Aperol spritzes this year?
Not sure there is a replacement for Aperol but the new trends are going towards low alcohol drinks, refreshing and with local ingredients.
What masterclasses and workshops are you holding?
In Sydney, our classes are sold out two months in advance. We have pizza, pasta, gnocchi, arancini and mozzarella classes.
We are currently running pizza making classes in Brisbane, and in March we’re launching new Halloumi and Burrata classes every weekend.
What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
I love playing with herbs, spices and veggies: using ingredients from all around the world. In summer, I especially love salads.
Where’s the best place to surf in SE Queensland?
I love going down to Burleigh because it’s so close to bars and restaurants, as well as our beautiful Surfers Paradise Salt Meats Cheese restaurant, so I can enjoy a beer after catching a few waves.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
It’s very hard to pick one highlight, but probably a top one has been moving to Queensland and putting our restaurants on the map here is up there.
Who or what inspires you?
I always look at the best operators in the worldwide market, check and study what they do, especially in US and UK.
Do you have any predictions for the hospitality industry?
In 2018 and 2019, there was a large influx of venues opening, and sadly, we’ve seen some close at the end of 2019. Only those keen to stay ahead of the curve, and who truly know and serve their markets well are likely to thrive.
What’s next for you?
After the successful opening Bar Ombre Rooftop in Sydney last May, we’re moving into more into the bar space, with great light food.
About Salt Meats Cheese
Established in 2012, Salt Meats Cheese is a family-owned Italian restaurant group and purveyor of gourmet Italian produce. The cousin duo behind Salt Meats Cheese, Stefano De Blasi and Edoardo Perlo share a mutual passion for honest cooking using quality ingredients. At Salt Meats Cheese, we’re proud to share this passion with our guests.