Chatted with Firestarter Beverages Marketing Director Vlad Sopotsko to learn more about their products and the challenges of introducing a new brand to Adelaide, South Australia. “If you can make it in Adelaide, you can make anywhere in Australia,” he quips.
Hey Paolo:What is Firestarter Beverages?
Firestarter Beverages is a premium brand of spirits. At the moment, we have gin, vodka, and a range of sparkling wines with a colourful twist. Soon we’ll be adding tequila and rum to our range.
Hey Paolo: Who do you think will enjoy Firestarter Beverages?
Our primary target audience are the young adults who basically want to have a good time. We attract people who want to go outside the box. At the moment, our main campaign is: “premium has a new look.”
Hey Paolo: How different are your vodkas and gins?
Our vodkas can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks. The production of our gins and vodkas are currently in Moldova where our master distillers have been perfecting the recipe for many years. Our gin is the traditional London Dry Gin without the over-infusion of botanicals and other flavours. It’s a very nice Juniper-scented gin with the traditional aftertaste of a proper London Dry Gin.
Hey Paolo: What’s unique about your wines?
At the moment, we only have one line of wines called “Wine of Fire.” It’s a light, sparkling, fruity wine made from Spanish Airen grapes. In order to create the amazing pearlescent effect, you have to shake the bottle and serve it cold. Very soon, we’ll be looking at adding a selection of Australian-made wines.
Hey Paolo: What are the challenges introducing your new brand to Adelaide?
Our main expansion process started in 2020 which wasn’t the best time to start a new brand. We had a few challenges with COVID restrictions such as not being able to host tastings, parties, and be able to go out there to promote the product. But despite that, we managed to overcome those difficulties and we are growing rapidly. We are doing very well.
Hey Paolo: How receptive is Adelaide to new brands?
Adelaide is a very interesting market. But it’s just something we have to approach in a slightly different manner compared to other states which are probably just a bit larger and are more used to seeing new things come into their lives.
Adelaide is now home toAustralia’s largest luxury floatariumswith the opening of Blue Lagoon Float and Spa’s second branch at Hyde Park.
I’m a big fan of spas and I don’t think I’ll survive a single month without getting my deep tissue massages. For some, going to spas is nothing but leisure and luxury. But for me, it’s more of a routine of wellness. As I always say, if I don’t get my monthly massages, I’ll probably fall sick. Like, seriously.
I’ve been to various types of spas including luxury wellness resorts, but a couple of months, I’ve tried something for the very first time: “floatation therapy” at the Blue Lagoon Float and Spa (132 King William Rd, Hyde Park SA 5061).
It was something unorthodox for me: a new age form of relaxation, floating in a pool filled with magnesium sulphate, aka pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salts. The therapy aims to help relieve stress, anxieties, insomnia, and body pain among others.
I came to their spa with my friend, Kyzeen. We were greeted by their very gracious owner, Trina Tramarchi, who ushered us to our floatation room. While walking inside, I was simply amazed by the general vibe and interiors of Blue Lagoon — it was clean, cosy, and stylish.
The floatation room itself was quite spacious with a couple of showers and a pool designed for a maximum of two floating people. Read: floating, not swimming.
I didn’t get it at first. What do you do once you start floating?
Kyzeen and I spent about 45 minutes in the pool with some relaxing music in the background. We were meant to be silent while floating, but both of us, chatterboxes, couldn’t.
Although I needed to moisturise my skin too after getting marinated in a pool of salt, fascinating enough, I felt “lighter” in every aspect of the word immediately after the session.
On the Blue Lagoon Float & Spa’s website, they’ve listed these floatation therapy benefits:
Whoever said it’s hard to make friends when you’re older surely hasn’t tried hard enough. Well for one, they should try living in Adelaide.
When most people get contented circling around the same set of friends as they mature, I just keep collecting new ones along the way.
I get it: small circle of friends solidified over time = quality, solid connections.
But I wanted to try and prove a different theory. For the sake of metaphor, let’s like our story to a fisherman: the more you fish, the more mouths you can feed. More chances of winning.
Lucky to have been blessed with new, good friends in the past one year and half here in South Australia. Give me a few more years, and I’ll probably need a park to host my birthday parties. I won’t mind that.
Gorgeous Helen will be joining The General Wine Bar & Kitchen team offering regular kitchen collaborations, cooking demonstrations, and exciting workshops for kids. Follow @thegreekvegetarian for regular updates on Helen’s latest projects.
Owned by Brad Rey and Anna Fisher, The General was established in 2016 and is currently the home of the authentic and locally sourced Zonte’s Footstepwines. Aside from Helen, The General also features another amazing chef, Gabriel’s Kitchen, with his special menu every third Friday of the month for a “Friday Wine Down.”
Spoilt that day sipping beautiful wines and indulging on a culinary feast (three course meal), we also had the privilege of experiencing their “Dine Around The World” offering, a unique program where The General whips a special menu inspired by cuisines from around the world.
That day, we were “transported” to Morocco. Kudos to the team for a well prepared program, complete with cabin crew, in-flight entertainment, and a stylishly decorated Moroccan-inspired venue. I was personally impressed.
The “Dine Around The World” program is an innovative initiative to recreate the experience of traveling to a destination especially during this time when we’re stuck in our little South Australian bubbles. Designed for a group of eight to 20 people, the menus are normally offered AU$99 per pax (Premium Economy: three course meal + four glasses of Zonte’s Footstep wines), AU$110 per pax (Business Class: three course meal + four glasses of Limited Release Zonte’s Footstep wines), and AU$125 per pax (First Class: three course meal + four glasses of Limited Release Zonte’s Footstep wines + Anna Fisher or Brad Rey providing your in-flight entertainment).
The team also launched an interactive and educational game perfect for parties called “Taste The Regions.” This blindfold wine challenge features bottles sourced from Langhorne Creek, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, and the Barossa.
Special mention to The General’s passionate owners, Brad and Ana — they were fun and extremely generous. Loved both of their vibes! Loved this place! I wish them continuous success with all these initiatives.
The General Wine Bar & Kitchen. 55a Main Rd, McLaren Flat SA 5171.
For Adelaide-based joinery/kitchen/interior designer Stefan Vignogna, clean lines, texture in materials, and functionality are the most essential elements in his designs.
Hey Paolo: What inspired you to become a joinery designer?
As a kid, I was always a creative child. Growing up, I never really had a specific career that I wanted, but I always knew it’ll be something in the creative field.
Hey Paolo: What’s your design style like?
In my designs, I tend to use a limited range of colours and materials like black, white, or even warm colours. I use simpler colours and more organic textures. I also tend to stick to a monochromatic palette.
Hey Paolo: What’s one project you’re most proud of?
I’ve done restaurant interiors, kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations, etc., but it’s hard to say which one is greater compared to the other. As long as they end up as a good functional space for the client, then they’re all pretty good for me.
Hey Paolo: What’s your dream project?
I would love to do the interiors of a hotel because of their volume of rooms and spaces. It will be really nice to have more people experience what I try to convey in my designs.
Hey Paolo: What are the main challenges in your line of work?
Budget is a very common thing in every project, whether it’s getting the client to commit to a steep budget or for me to stick to a budget that’s affordable for them.
Hey Paolo: What was it like designing your own house?
I started building my house a few years ago. It was a lengthy process, but I had a good team around me. My architect gave me a fantastic floor plan to work with. But what I did was to put my own natural spin from the inside. A lot of what you see inside is my own style. It’s really important that it reflects my own personality.
Hey Paolo: What are the key elements that you like adding in your designs?
Lines, texture in materials, and functionality.
Hey Paolo: Who is Stefan when he’s not working?
Funny enough, I’m pretty much the same whether it’s at work or at home. Being a freelancer blurs the lines between personal and work life.
Hey Paolo: Recommendations where to purchase furniture/supplies?
Hey Paolo: What’s the future of joinery design in Adelaide?
Adelaide has talented designers. There’s a lot of people nowadays trying to push the envelope a bit more. With a lot of businesses moving to online, it opens up the Adelaide designers to interstate enquiries and projects. It’s really exciting to see the future of Adelaide design.
Hey Paolo: What is “home” for you?
It’s more of a feeling that I have as opposed to a general practical space. I try to find home wherever I am.
Hey Paolo: Why is there a need to create beautiful kitchens?
A kitchen is a unique space for many. It’s not just a space where you can cook; it’s also a place where work and where you gather people around. It really gives me pride to help people create a really good space to facilitate growing relationships with their family and friends.
For cafe owner and head chef Silas Ulbrich of The Pantry On Egmont, kindness and giving back to the community are as equally important as great food and excellent service.
HeyPaolo: What is the The Pantry on Egmont?
We are a small suburban brunch cafe in Adelaide. We have a strong focus on giving back to the community and serving quality food & drinks.
Hey Paolo: What’s on your menu?
Our menu is eclectic. We have the classic brunch staples like eggs, burgers, and our house specialty (gnocchi). Most of our specials draw influence from the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Hey Paolo: What are the key changes in your cafe over the years?
Our dinner events have grown significantly. Our dinner events give an opportunity for me to also plan different interesting menus compared to our standard brunch food. Adelaide brunch market has definitely grown significantly in the last 10 years too.
Hey Paolo: Why do you call yourselves a “Good Karma Cafe”?
I try to operate this establishment by the Golden Rule: “treat others the way you want to be treated.” For me, I like engaging with all our guests and we treat them with kindness.
Hey Paolo: How do you support local artists?
We rotate them every six weeks by showcasing their work (paintings, prints, sketches, etc.) in our cafe.
Hey Paolo: How do you give back to the community?
We try to give back as much as we possibly can. We also have our “Pay It Forward Coffee Campaign” and people can have coffee on me.
Hey Paolo: What is your “War Against Waste” campaign?
We try to be environmentally responsible. Very little gets wasted here and food scraps go to the compost. All our takeaway packagings are compostable and anything that can be recycled gets recycled.
Hey Paolo: How important is a vegan menu?
I think it is important, but for me, what’s more important is how we can be inclusive of everyone. In our cafe, we do have a significant number of vegan options. We try to cater to all dietary requirements too as best as we can.
Hey Paolo: How important is it to be a pet-friendly cafe?
A lot of our guests bring their pets with them. We don’t allow the pets inside the cafe, but we have the outside sitting where pets are more than welcome.
Hey Paolo: What are your best sellers?
Probably our housemade gnocchi which has been on the menu for several years now.
Hey Paolo: Your personal favourites?
I really think we do a good burger here and our smashed pumpkin is also one of my favourites.
Hey Paolo: How does Silas relax when he’s not at the cafe?
It can be hard to relax when you’re a small business owner. I just like spending time with my wife and kids.
Adelaide-based baker Zak Antoniou recently joined Zumbo’s Just Desserts (Season 2) and is now back in his hometown running his own cake shop, Zacary Desserts, specializing in delectable mirror glazed mousse cakes and his signature Evil Eye cakes.
Watch the video to learn more about his baking inspirations, his baking style, his challenges as a baker/business owner, and his journey joining Adriano Zumbo’s dessert competition, Just Desserts.
Foodie Grocer is Adelaide’s newest online foodie store where you can order your favourite Southeast Asian dishes such as Pho, Rendang, and Laksa. Website: https://www.foodeegrocer.com.au.
Their food packs come with the basic ingredients you need for the dish and easy-to-cook recipes for you to follow. The Foodee team asked me to try their service and I ordered the Chicken Rendang food pack from their website. Watch the video to see how my Rendang turned out…
ROCKIN’ UP WITH THE ROCCAS — More than the fight for legal rights, acceptance, and equality, marriage for David Rocca (34; videographer/content creator ) and Adam Rocca (26; real estate agent) is nothing but a celebration of union and love.
Hey Paolo: What were your individual “coming out” stories like?
David: I was a late bloomer. I didn’t come out until I was 23 years old. Before that, it was just one big secret. I had a big Italian and Catholic family. Back then, coming out is a scary thing to do.
Growing up, it wasn’t accepted at school. I saw a kid one day and he got extremely bullied when he came out. He had to leave school and I never saw him again. That set me back.
I was lucky though as everyone around me was very accepting of my sexuality. Even though in my head I thought they weren’t going to be…
Adam: Mine was pretty easy as I was very easy-going and I had a laidback family.
Hey Paolo: How did you both meet?
David: We’ve always known each other for the longest time, but the timing was never right. We were both in a relationship with our ex-partners at that point when we first met and it never really worked out. He was based in Port Lincoln while I was living in Prospect. But eventually, it all just happened.
Adam: We first met through mutual friends. We decided to have coffee one day — and the rest was history.
“We built a relationship based on coffee.” – David
Hey Paolo: How did you guys get engaged?
David: I proposed to Adam and I did it, as cheesy as it sounds, at the Eiffel Tower in Paris back in 2016. We were on a European holiday for about a month. We had a backpack then and I had the ring inside the backpack the whole time. He was carrying the backpack during the entire trip, but he didn’t even realise that there was a ring inside.
Adam: It was so funny to get engaged in Paris. You’ll think that you’re having this really unique, special moment, but when you look around, there are about 10 other people also doing their own engagements at the same time. It was nice sharing that moment with other engaged couples.
Hey Paolo: How did your families and friends react to your engagement?
David: My parents knew as I told them prior. When we first posted on social media about our engagement, some people got really shocked while the rest were really excited for us. Although same-sex marriage wasn’t legal yet here in Australia at that point, I still wanted to go ahead with our marriage anyway. I wouldn’t let anyone stop me from doing what I wanted to do.
Adam: We were really lucky as we have very supportive families and friends. I personally don’t know any other gay couples who have been engaged prior to ours. Five months before our wedding, same-sex officially became legal here in Australia and it got us really excited. We got married in April 2018.
Hey Paolo: What’s the importance of same-sex marriage?
David: For me, it’s about commitment, love, and building a family. I wouldn’t want to share my life with anybody else.
Adam: Marriage for me is about being able to go through life together and to have that recognition that you’re just one unit as a couple.
Hey Paolo: What is LGBT PRIDE for you?
David: Being me, being loved, and equality in all forms. Having that freedom not to ever worry about where I go, what I do, and what would other people say. It’s about acceptance.
Adam: It’s about feeling safe and being truthful to who you are.
Hey Paolo: What’s the future for LGBTs here in South Australia?
David: It needs to be more openly celebrated. It needs to be more than just a gay club or some gay festivals. We need to have more gay-friendly places. We have to move more freely within the community without worries. I feel in certain places like Queenstown, New Zealand, everyone’s welcome. When we were there, I can hold Adam’s hand down the street without any hesitations, but here in Adelaide, I couldn’t really do that here…
Adam: Adelaide is always quite conservative — it will always be. I would like to see more diversity and LGBT faces in our government who will help form legislation so that everyone’s spoken and accounted for.
“I feel everyone’s more open-minded during the Adelaide Fringe festival in March, and when that’s over, everything’s back to the way it was.” – Adam