It’s easy to get lost in the hype that often shrouds Melbourne’s food scene. Trends are followed with avid anticipation, ramen burgers and cronuts are devoured and instagrammed with vigour.
Trying to go against the grain of this kind of culture is Carlisle Wine Bar manager and chef Tom Hope and business partner, chef Paul Turner (formerly Two Wrongs, Qualia and Cutler & Co) with Uprooted Projects.
Uprooted is a series of boundary-pushing events to showcase another side of our food culture, and bring it back to good food, good service, and good old-fashioned creativity.
“People are always focusing on the next big thing, but when it all boils down to it, what Paul and I wanna do with the food is bring it back to your basics,” Hope says.
Hope says throughout their 14 plus years in the hospitality industry, both he and Turner have always desired a platform to do the food and drinks they wanted to create, despite their ideas not necessarily fitting in with their workplaces.
“What we thought we’d do is, because we’re both from this food background, that we’d start off this, essentially, events company where we showcase people within their field of work; whether it be art, music, bartending or chefs and their food,” Hope says.
“It’s about giving these artists and chefs a bit of a platform to cook the food they wanna cook, or create what they want to create or showcase. It’s about getting them out of their normal environment and collaborating with them to do [something different].”
At each event, Uprooted will focus on one entity, such as food, at a time, using the other entities to support it. The inaugural event, Birth, was a five-course dinner where the food was the star of the show.
Hope says the food was about showcasing Turner’s “flair”, and he wanted to do something a bit different, which included making bread from peated barley sourced from whiskey distillers and serving it with candles made of beef dripping instead of butter. “As people arrived, they sat down, the bread came out, we explained, ‘guys, you’re probably wondering where your butter is, but actually the candle that’s melting in front of you is actually beef dripping that you can mop up with your bread,’” Hope says.
“And that was just a little bit of something that just takes you aback. Something that’s a little bit of a surprise and flavours [and objects] you wouldn’t normally associate with each other.”
For drinks, Hope and Turner worked with the boys from Menace To Sobriety, who hail from Woods of Windsor. They’ve set up a similar operation to Uprooted, except with a drinks-based focus.
“It was like having a huge dinner party. Everyone knew everyone else by the end of the night and it was like this little hub where everyone can just have a good time,” Hope says.
Hope says the point is to focus on every aspect of an event and how it affects the guests during the occasion.
“It’s about creating an experience. That’s what we want to achieve. We want people to walk away and be like, ‘I had a great time, met some nice people there, great food, great banter, these guys, they look after us’. It’s just that one step further beyond just walking into your standard restaurant.”
The next Uprooted Event will be on September 26, with a focus on cocktails that will be a playful take on a classroom theme. For more information, email [email protected]