Interview by Della Vreeland Images supplied
There’s this rumour going around of late. Something about Ballarat becoming the food capital of western Victoria.
Teddy Powlett would agree.
“It’s nice to hear people talk about it in high regard like that,” he says.
“I think it can partially be attributed to Ballarat’s growth as a city; changing tastes and motivations from the people who live here.”
While the city’s becoming as a gastronomic hub may very well be partially attributed to changing tastes, there is no doubt it is also due to those movers and shakers who are causing a culinary uprising.
Teddy is amongst those aforementioned movers.
The owner of four spaces in the hospitality scene, the Ballarat local says he has seen a real food evolution in the 20 years he’s been in the city.
“It’s been good to see the scene develop over the course of those years,” he says. “There’s a lot more on offer now than when I first started going out and it is definitely an industry that is more considered nowadays.
“It is however one of those things that is always built upon its predecessors — a sort of natural progression and refinement that has gotten it to where it is now.”
Those living in Ballarat would be all too familiar with the names Faux Social Club, Moon and Mountain, Winner Winner and Ragazzone.
Faux Social Club was Teddy’s first business enterprise and is currently undergoing refurbishment, while his latest eatery, the European-inspired pasta and vino establishment Ragazzone, was opened up this year.
But it is arguably Teddy’s sophomore venture, his contemporary Asian restaurant Moon and Mountain, which made that immediate impression when it first opened its doors in 2017.
“I often found myself wanting to go out to a restaurant for a good time and cocktails, but was pretty limited with where to go,” Teddy recalls.
“I really love Asian food (but) I’d have to travel down to Melbourne to get that sort of experience at one place. I realised a lot of people were in the same boat, so I decided to piece together my ideal night out and open a restaurant based on that.”
The positive response to M+M was overwhelming, indicating how ready and eager Ballarat was for an Asian dining experience of the Melbourne ilk.
Riding on the wave of M+M’s success, Teddy went on to open his fried chicken eatery Winner Winner in 2019, followed closely by Ragazzone which he embarked upon with his business partner Drew Harry.
But the opening wasn’t as smooth sailing due to the restrictions surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Ragazzone opened in the middle of COVID for three weeks, and then closed again to do takeaway during the second lockdown,” Teddy says.
“It was all a lot of quick thinking and adaption. All the management teams took it all so well and were always quick to keep things moving along.”
During the lockdown periods, M+M and Winner Winner were both able to stay open, albeit on a delivery model, but Faux Social Club had to close up temporarily due to the decrease in Melbourne revellers.
“I think the whole year was tough work for everyone. It was touch and go for a lot of it. Ballarat was incredibly supportive though — loved the takeaway and were very understanding that it was all a new process.”
“I never expected Moon and Mountain to take off as well as it did, but I think it is a massive credit to all the wonderful staff we’ve had over the years.”
Teddy is just one example of the many hospitality gurus in Ballarat who are making great strides and innovatively showcasing the amazing local product available in the region.
But he doesn’t see himself as the guru. His accolades are reserved solely for his team.
“I never expected M+M to take off as well as it did, but I think it is a massive credit to all the wonderful staff we’ve had over the years,” he says.
“(The success) is also of course a massive credit to the kitchen team across all venues, namely Liam Downes and Pauly Sing.”
As to whether we can expect any more gastronomic brilliance from this local fave. Watch this space.
“We are in the final stages of refurbishing The Faux Social Club. It is now a joint venture with my younger brother Louis Powlett and will be a place for good cocktails and good times, served up alongside some snacks until late, LATE.”
Emphasis on the late.