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Getting to know Karen Martini
Meet Karen Martini. Currently the Ambassador Chef at Sydney Opera House and The Yallamundi Rooms, Karen’s biggest challenge is finding time, and it’s no wonder. As a professional chef, a presenter on Better Homes and a judge for My Kitchen Rules, as well as a new cookbook out next year, she is VERY busy. Find out which is Karen’s favourite restaurant (hint: you need a boat to get to it) and why we think she might carry around some olive oil, salt and a lemon in her bag. So, join us as we get to know Karen Martini…
Give us a snap shot of your career to date.
Professional chef, restaurant owner and book author for the past 25years. Founding chef of The George Hotel, Melbourne Wine Room, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar
Author of 7 cookbooks, the biggest on the way next Christmas and leading Trippas White Group’s food and event journey at the Sydney Opera House
Presenter on the longest running and most popular lifestyle show on Channel 7, Better Homes, along with judging My Kitchen Rules over the last 12 years.
The most memorable event you have worked on and why?
In my early 20’s, Salon de Gusto in Torino Italy (a major Slow Food Festival) because I was part of an Australian showcase dinner for 300 pax and it was my first my first foray cooking professionally overseas
What did you ‘learn the hard way’ when planning an event?
You definitely learn the hard way that you need space, space and more space to get the food out!
What are three personality traits that are required to succeed in the events industry?
Flexibility, enthusiasm and creative flair
If you could share one piece of advice to those starting out in the industry what would it be?
Treat every event like it’s your own
What song always gets you on the dance floor?
Grace Jones always works, Pull up to the bumper baby.
If you could plan an event anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
On the beach in Greece or Puglia, the weather, the people and the produce. We can be formal but still have our feet in the sand
If you had to choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life what would it be?
Seafood cooked over fire and local/seasonal salads
What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
I interviewed Yottam Ottolenghi on stage for an hour with no cooking involved. Definitely tested my journalistic skills in front of a writers crowd
What skill or talent would you most like to learn and why?
Speaking French or Italian a bit more fluently because I know enough to get me in trouble but not enough to get out of it.
What can you not live without in your life?
Olive oil, salt, lemon and my dog
How do you unwind after a big event?
A long walk and /or a glass of wine
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
Where do you go for creative inspiration?
Travel and more travel. Get in amongst the local scene, dine out high end and every day places. Sometimes it’s the simplest dishes or produce that is the perfect inspiration. And I love to read cookbooks.
You will need a boat but if you are in Positano head out to sea turn right, 3 small bays and moor the boat and a small tender will collect you. Fresh opened sea urchin, great wine list etc.
What do you prefer, cocktail party or sit-down dinner?
Cocktail party in the Yallamundi Rooms at the Sydney Opera House where I am the Ambassador Chef for sure
And then sit down dinner
What’s your drink of choice at an event?
Definitely partial to good Champagne
Best event styling tip?
When decorating a table make sure to remember that your guests need to talk to each other. Go easy on the oversized floral decorations!!
What is your best party trick?
I can talk to and cook for 20 at the same time!