Calombaris protege Nathaniel Destefano swaps Melbourne for Mudgee

Nathaniel Destefano will join Mudgee's Zin House later this month.
Nathaniel Destefano will join Mudgee's Zin House later this month. Photo: Destination NSW

Melbourne might've been the epicentre of the crumbling of the George Calombaris empire, but its shockwaves are being felt closer to home with his food tentacles reaching up the eastern seaboard.

There's been a small positive for the rural town of Mudgee, which has snared Nathaniel Destefano, a Calombaris protege who was head chef at Vita restaurant when the MasterChef host's group collapsed.

Destefano will join Mudgee's Zin House later this month, owner Kim Currie confirmed: "His partner Chloe Foster [who also worked for Calombaris] is coming on board as restaurant manager ... George's loss will be Mudgee's gain."

Both were raised in the town. We tracked down Destefano, who was packing up his life in Melbourne.

"It was devastating how it happened, but it [Vita] wasn't making enough money to put in a bid and stay. We love Zin and eat there when we're home, so it's a great move."