After closing Alto, Mickey Gubas kept on his eight full-time staff, hoping to keep them until he can get his two planned bakeries open. But part-timers weren't so lucky. Among them is high-profile chef Christian Hauberg, who has been working a couple of shifts for Gubas, baking bread, since he sold Pulp Kitchen early last year.
In recent weeks, Hauberg has been working towards a new career, far removed from the world of restaurants. He is training as a corrections officer for the ACT prison.
It’s a big change for the outspoken chef, who is one of Canberra’s biggest kitchen talents, but he says after years running his own restaurant, he doesn’t want to work in someone else’s kitchen, although he’d still like to have his own again at some stage. That's off the agenda for now while he pays off debts after Pulp was forced into liquidation (Pulp was bought by former floor manager Daniel Giordani, who is sticking with success to Hauberg's approach to the menu and style).
Meantime, Hauberg is enthusiastic about his new work, and hopes there might be room in the prison system to teach inmates some fundamentals of cooking, maybe helping some of them into a career of their own. As he points out, commercial kitchens are no strangers to unusual people.
The future of the restaurant space at Alto is still unclear, with no-one commenting on the out-of-court settlement reached between Telstra and Gubas, which saw Gubas close his eight-year venture.
Gubas has been in a long-running dispute with Telstra over the state of Black Mountain Tower. In January, it was reported that he stopped paying rent two years ago and took Telstra to court. Telstra was reported to have lodged a counter-claim against Gubas for unpaid rent. Gubas says a confidentiality agreement with Telstra prevents him commenting. “We’re pretty stuck on saying anything,” he says. “It’s all happened quite suddenly. I’d love to be able to tell you more but I really can’t.”
He is refurbishing a building in Lonsdale Street, to open a bakery and cafe – called Autolyse, which is the name of the bread brand he has been baking at Alto and selling through the Supabarn supermarket. He hopes to open in April, and plans an offshoot bakery in Belconnen. His eight full-time staff include chef Darren Perryman.
Telstra confirms the parties reached an out-of-court settlement. The detail is confidential, it says. It has invested $200,000 to update the tower over the past four months, with more work planned, demonstrating “our commitment to tower for the long term”, it says.