Hey Paolo Spotlight: Chef/Entrepreneur Billy Petropoulos

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.

Hey Paolo Spotlight: Vlad Sopotsko of Firestarter Beverages

Hey Paolo Spotlight: Vlad Sopotsko of Firestarter Beverages

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.

FIRESTARTER BEVERAGES. To learn more, visit: https://firestartervodka.com.au/

COCKTAIL OF THE DAY: RUSSIAN MOJITO WITH A TWIST

Ingredients: Lime, Parsley, Ice, Sugar, Soda Water, and Firestarter Vodka

Hey Paolo Spotlight: Joinery Designer Stefan Vignogna

Hey Paolo Spotlight: Joinery Designer Stefan Vignogna

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?

I’m pretty fortunate that my studio is located at Magill Road and there’s plenty you can find in the area such as The Source, Asser & Co, Twopairs, and Outside Square.

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.

STEFAN VIGNOGNA, Joinery Designer. Website: https://www.stefanvignogna.com.au/. Instagram: @stefv23.

Hey Paolo Spotlight: Silas Ulbrich of The Pantry On Egmont

Hey Paolo Spotlight: Silas Ulbrich of The Pantry On Egmont

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.

Hey Paolo: 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.


The Pantry On Egmont: 2 Egmont Terrace, Hawthorn SA 5062. Website: https://thepantry.net.au/. Instagram: click here.

Hey Paolo Spotlight: Zak Antoniou of Zacary Desserts

Hey Paolo Spotlight: Zak Antoniou of Zacary Desserts

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.

Instagram: @zacarydesserts. Website: www.zacarydesserts.com.au.