Restaurants come and go, but some chefs are forever. Scott Pickett, chef and owner of Estelle, Matilda159, Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie, is a man who doesn't slow down, and in his 30th year behind the pans, has decided to close Saint Crispin and reopen it as a casual-contemporary Italian restaurant, Lupo.
"This is something Stu[art McVeigh] (executive chef) and I wanted to do 12 months ago. Saint Crispin could have easily been there for 10-20 years, ticking along and doing its thing, but we kept asking ourselves the question, ] 'What now?' We had a blank-canvas opportunity in a great location, a fantastic building and working kitchen, so, why not Italian? I have never cooked Italian food in a professional kitchen other than rolling 30,000 macaroni in my working life (at London's The Square); I love Italian and just want to cook simpler, flavour-driven food as I get older."
As an Aussie, French-trained chef, Pickett is the first to admit that he doesn't claim any links to Italy or understand the minute regional differences. The menu is a collaboration between Pickett, McVeigh and head chef Charlie Watson, who has also come from the Square and Eleven Madison Park. Pickett says they're not trying to recreate dishes, but are instead taking the approach of using the hand-made product as a vehicle for technique-driven sauces with simple ingredients in dishes like a squid ink linguini with bottarga and sardine vinaigrette and hare cappelletti with celeriac and mustard fruits.
Lupo opens at 300 Smith St, Collingwood on June 4 at 6pm, and bookings can be made via the website.