Like most Victorians, Carlo Grossi, son of chef-restaurateur Guy Grossi whose restaurant empire encompasses iconic flagship Grossi Florentino, Cellar Bar, Ombra and Arlechino is expecting a very different Father's Day this year.
The extended Grossi clan would typically be gathered to celebrate over a long lunch of unapologetically traditional Italian dishes: built to share. On this front, Carlo considers himself lucky. "We have all moved back into the one house, so we'll have most of our family together. It's going to be sunny so we'll fire up the barbecue to cook lamb chops and watch Collingwood versus Carlton".
Normally, only the Grossi's more casual wine bar, Ombra, would be trading, but it would usually expect to do double the numbers of a regular Sunday. That revenue boost, at the end of sluggish winter trade is always important to Melbourne's restaurants. This year, it will prove essential.
Thankfully, Grossi a Casa, the home-delivery pivot by the Grossi family, has orders rolling in for their Father's Day feast. Guy Grossi attributes this to the comfort of the offering. "They're the dishes that we would eat at home ourselves – the braised lamb abbacchio alla Romagna, melanzane parmigiana and Sicilian caponata."
Antoine Reymond – son of the legendary chef Jacques Reymond – who now operates Hotel Gitan, Bistro Gitan and recently opened Frederic with siblings Edouard and Nathalie, gives insight into another Melbourne restaurant dynasty. He says that keeping families connected is vital during this time. "Normally, we love doing the restaurant service because it's a day when people drop everything to be together. You would see one table's children playing with another. Everyone is relaxed and just wants to have a nice time."
Knowing that most families – their own included – can't gather for the day, Antoine Reymond says they are offering hampers that families from grandparents to young children in separate homes can not only eat together but easily prepare while connected over Zoom. "The cooking is simple, it might be stirring a pot, or making a salad, things that young kids can be involved in. Beyond staying connected, it's an activity: something we all need right now."
Restaurateurs are desperately awaiting a plan for when they can reopen. Even heavyweights like the Grossis and Reymonds are wondering how they will repair the damage when they can. Guy Grossi says a Father's Day boost will go far beyond supporting their own family. "It means work for our employees, including the many visa-holders who have stood side by side with us for the past 30 years. It means money for their families. It helps our suppliers and their families too. There has never been a more important moment in time, or in Victoria's history to support this huge part of our economy."
Father's Day feasts
Grossi a Casa
The Grossi at home experience serves two for $95 and includes sourdough, saffron and mozzarella arancini, caponata, abbacchio alla Romana, roast potatoes and tiramisu. Pick-up Thursday to Saturday, or delivery within 25km of the CBD. grossiacasa.com.
Available for singles through to family banquets for four ($50-$170) a roast beef lunch with Yorkshire pudding, pomme boulangerie and myriad vegetables is bookended by smoked salmon blini to start and apple, rhubarb crumble and almond streusel to end. Pick-up or delivery available. lhotelgitan.com.au.
Shane Delia is sending a brunch to be reckoned with featuring crumpets with smoked salmon caviar; truffled fava, with fried Lebanese bread and a sour cheery glazed chicken among a dozen other dishes. It's a $200 blowout for two delivered on Saturday up to 35km from the CBD via www.providoor.com.au.
The Grosvenor Hotel
If you were planning a steak at the pub, the Grosvenor's kit serves two for $150 and includes cured meats, Sicilian olives and focaccia, with a centrepiece eye-fillet beef Wellington. It comes with a temperature probe so it's not overdone. grosvenorhotel.com.au.
This operation is supporting stood down chefs through the pandemic, and they are returning the favour with affordable meals. They are launching a hot sauce on Father's Day to go with a pack including smoked beef brisket, mac and cheese, potato and bean salads and a four pack of Moondog beers for $60 or $90 for two or four. fairfeed.com.au.