Hey Paolo E-Meets: Rodrigo Santos of Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant

Armed with the right amount of passion and skills, 27-year-old Rodrigo Santos braved the South Australian waters to bring his love for cooking to the Aussie tables. This Brazilian chap moved from his hometown, Caxias do Sul (southern Brazil), to Adelaide back in 2018 and now works as a Junior Sous Chef at the highly esteemed Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant.

Hey Paolo: What’s the history and inspiration behind Magill Estatate Restaurant?

Rodrigo: With modern architecture and located in the Adelaide foothills, Magill Estate Restaurant delivers a combination of contemporary and comfortable fine dining experience to its customers. The restaurant also boasts contemporary food, an extensive Penfolds wine collection, excellent service, and stunning views. Our Executive Chef, Scott Huggins, also comes with 20-years worth of expertise working with some of the finest Michelin-starred restaurants around.

Hey Paolo: For first-time diners, what’s one main dish that you would recommend the most?

Rodrigo: Probably our signature mud crabs as it has been a local favourite for many years. Our live crabs come directly from our salt water tanks and are always served fresh. They’re cooked in kombu butter and are seasoned/garnished with the freshest ingredients—finger lime, chives, basil, radish flowers, and fennel fronds—and topped with some tomato drizzle upon serving.

Hey Paolo: How do you describe South Australia’s current dining scene?

Rodrigo: South Australia has an amazing variety of options: from high-end hatted restaurants to casual pub food. I also love the fact that a lot of restaurants are very proud in using local produce and are supporting local farmers.

Hey Paolo: Where do you see South Australia’s dining scene progressing in the years to come?

Rodrigo: South Australia has a lot of potential in terms of growth. We just have to keep supporting local farmers/products so that they keep doing what they’re doing. Knowing that you have amazing wines and unique produce, such as the wild porcini mushrooms which you can easily get just 10 minutes away from Adelaide City, is incredible. But unfortunately, these local offerings are always underappreciated.

Hey Paolo: What keeps you busy outside work?

Rodrigo: When I’m not at work, I’m usually spearfishing or I’m at our local church. My wife, Camila, and I are part of a Christian church called Victory Church where we also do volunteer work such as manning the church cafe. Together with other church leaders, we normally meet Tuesday nights too for Sunday service planning, Bible sharing, and group dinners.

Hey Paolo: What’s your favourite dining spot in South Australia?

Rodrigo: Given my Italian heritage, I grew up loving Italian cuisine and eating pasta cooked by my nonna. Nido Bar & Pasta at Hyde Park (helmed by Chef Laura Cassai and Max Sharrad) is my favourite pasta night out spot especially during cold winter nights.

Address: 78 Penfold Road, Magill, SA 5072. Tel: +61883015551. E: magillestaterestaurant@penfolds.com.au

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