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Hey Paolo Spotlight: Chef/Entrepreneur Billy Petropoulos
After his successful culinary stints around the world, while opening establishments in various countries and even working for a Michelin-star restaurant, South Australian Billy Petropoulus finally returns home to offer his amazing cuisines inspired by his global travels.
Hey Paolo: What inspired you to start your food businesses?
I have always aspired to own a restaurant. I have planned it for years. I knew that one day, I would open a restaurant called Billy’s Table and that I would offer a global menu inspired by my travels from around the world. I just didn’t know when the time is right. I have travelled for many years; I have tried to learn everything I possibly could so that one day, everything will fall into place. Living abroad gave me many inspirations and ideas that I would hold onto and these eventually were incorporated into my dishes.
Hey Paolo: How did you learn how to cook?
Sometimes you learn things without realising it. Mine came from my parents. Back then, they often asked me to peel potatoes, trim beans, and preserve olives. I had no idea I was learning great values in cooking at such a young age. I would often go with my father picking grapes to make wine, collecting honey from the bees, or baking with mum in the kitchen. I have always helped my father in the garden while picking seasonal fruits and vegetables. In my spare time, I would watch cooking shows for hours. Not to mention, my mum always had her cookbooks laying around the house. So you could say, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
Hey Paolo: How colourful is your culinary journey?
I have been cooking for about 20 years now and I have helped open over 60 restaurants and cafes everywhere. I have travelled around the world and have cooked in more than nine countries such as China, USA, and UK. I have cooked for singers, athletes, actors and even royalty. I have also worked in cafes, restaurants, pubs, and even a Michelin restaurant. Fortunately, I currently own 10 cafes and restaurants.
Hey Paolo: Among all the things you’ve done so far, what are you most proud of?
Living in London, I became Bill Granger’s executive chef. Bill is a celebrity chef mostly known for Bills (Sydney), but it has grown to 15 restaurants around the world. That’s where and when I’ve learned who I really was. I was tested in every way possible: emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It was difficult, but all of those experiences made me the person that I am today. I have travelled with Granger to Japan, Korea, Hawaii, and Sydney. It was during that time where I have experienced first-hand the way of life I have wanted for myself.
Hey Paolo: Why return to Adelaide?
I initially returned to start my own business. When you’ve done so much work and traveling abroad, you then realise what you have “in your own backyard.” I was searching for the best produce I could work with in South Australia and we’re very lucky with what we have here. We’re blessed with great seafood, nearby wineries, and an abundant livestock. My own personal favourite is heading to the Adelaide Central Market to search for good supplies/produce.
Hey Paolo: How has South Australia shaped you?
I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on the best produce here in South Australia. It is easy to create what you want in the kitchen when you have access to great produce and meat. I often travel to the regions to get inspired. This helps me to be creative.
Hey Paolo: What is Billy’s Table?
About 10 years ago, I was working next door (Queen Street Cafe) and I was supposed to take over that restaurant after being there for about two and a half years. And things just moved differently and I moved overseas.
I have always fallen in love with the street, Queen Street. But what I like most about this place is the community and the locals — they really make the street so unique. That’s when Billy’s Table came in. I was just waiting for the right time and this place popped up.
Billy’s Table is a woodfire restaurant. Everything is cooked based on my travel experiences over the years and it has a global menu.
Hey Paolo: What is Billy’s Lane?
Billy’s Lane is a new multi food outlet at Myer Centre Adelaide offering four different cuisines while showcasing inspirations from some of my travels around the world:
Gelina Milk Bar is a cereal-themed pastry shop offering daily baked American pies, in-house baked sweets, crazy flavours, and combinations mixed in ice creams.
Little Pot is from the traditional Chinese food scene culture: you pick your items, weigh, and pay.
Boneshaker is from the same premium burger joint I have established since 2017 and has already spanned over eight sites (three of them are in China). It now offers a wider range of items such as hotdogs, chicken, sides, even vegetarian/vegan burgers.
Bao is inspired by my stay in in Asia. We have put together a white fluffy pillow of steamed buns with your choice of fillings. Made in-house, Bao also offers fresh dumplings and homemade organic teas.
Hey Paolo: Where do you see South Australia’s culinary scene heading towards in the near future?
The food scene has changed because of COVID-19; it has disrupted the way we do things now. Our business models need to adapt and change. Our way of service needs to be more creative. We need to start thinking outside the box. Restaurants that never focused on takeaways in the past must now adapt to online orders. We are all in this together and the hospitality industry as a whole needs to help each other out.
South Australia has been very lucky and our food scene is still growing, but online presence is now something I see coming into play.
Hey Paolo: Who is Billy when he’s not managing his restaurants?
I’m a father before I’m a chef. When I have free time, I love teaching my four-year-old about the values of cooking. Every Tuesday, we hit the Central Market and I enjoy teaching her how to pick ingredients like how my parents taught me. Every morning we make superfood smoothies, and a few times a week, we enjoy playing retro video games.
I have a passion for motorbikes and I love taking long rides to wind down, as well as finding some form of exercise to keep my body in shape.
I have also spent a lot of my time this year writing and developing a cookbook. It’s something I’ve been working on for years now, but this year in particular, you could say I’ve had more time on my hands. I aim to have it published by 2021.
WHERE TO FIND BILLY:
Billy’s Table. 16/18 Elizabeth St, Croydon SA 5008. https://www.billystable.com.au/. Instagram: @billys_table.
Billy’s Lane. Lower Ground Level, Myer Centre Adelaide. Instagram: @billys_lane.
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