Hear from the man behind the Coast’s tastiest pop-ups
Since 2013, HUNTERhunter has been getting the behind-the-scenes stories of our go-to hospitality and lifestyle businesses. We’ve been talking to the people behind the brands about where they’ve come from, how they got to where they are, and where they’re headed.
But what about the behind-the-scenes of their own lives? Where do they go to eat? What do they drink? Where do they spend their time? Ultimately, what really makes them tick?
Introducing HUNTERhunter’s newest series, SPILL. Where we’ll be sitting down with some of the well-known and maybe not-so-well-known faces and voices of the Central Coast and ask them to SPILL.
Without further ado, let us introduce you to our third instalment of SPILL of the Central Coast – the man behind the Central Coast’s tastiest pop-ups, Tristan Fraser of Rigatoni for Toni.
Firstly, what, and where would people across the Central Coast recognise you from?
The pasta man of the Central Coast. From its inception at Like Minds, Avoca Beach, with lockdown pasta night pop-ups to now with exciting pop-up restaurant nights/kitchen takeovers and collaborations with like-minded chefs/personalities on the Coast.
Where are you from?
Originally hailing from Tasmania, and lived in Melbourne for a good chunk of my life.
What made you decide to make the Central Coast home?
A series of events starting with feeling burnt out from chasing (and gaining!) Good Food Guide Hats in Country Victoria, buying a caravan on a whim to hit the road gypsy-style with the mother of my first-born child, and my first-born, Stevie Rose (who was 2 at the time) and stopping on the Central Coast.
The Central Coast was where Stevie Rose’s mum was originally from and she had family living on a property in Picketts Valley. We eventually came to the decision to co-parent and began living separately, so it made sense to stay close to her family.
That, and the wild storms of early 2015 (which were certainly fun in a caravan, to say the least). I also discovered a need to be close to the ocean, which made the choice to remain on the Central Coast an easy one.
Do you consider yourself more of an early bird or a night owl?
It definitely depends on my brain activity day by day! I am usually an early riser, 5am most days but often known to do my best work in the wee hours of the night!
What’s your morning ritual?
Roll out of bed and open the curtains, before heading to the kitchen to turn the stovetop coffee maker on for my morning brew of alternating Legend Coffee. Open the French doors and greet the dogs, George and Lola, and breathe in some morning air.
Where’s your late-night hangout spot?
Definitely have become a homebody over the years, swapping out the bars for the couch (still with an excellent single malt whisky/whiskey to end the day on...), but when feeling extroverted, I usually trek over to Ettalong for a little bar and restaurant hop: Bar Toto, LA Taco, and of course The Lucky Bee (vibes!), and then back to Bar Toto if I’m lucky!
What’s your coffee order?
Black. Never goes out of fashion. And with such an epic local coffee roaster as Legends, the brew is always golden!
Speaking of coffee, which local venue knows your order by heart?
Legends of course, and Like Minds always and forever!
Tell me about your biggest career highlight…
A younger version of myself, let’s roll with the Melbourne times Tristan, probably would’ve said serving Jay-Z and Beyoncé back in the Cumulus Inc. days.
But truthfully the thing that will stand out in my mind always was actually feedback from a little breakfast special during my time cooking at Like Minds, Avoca Beach, when we had an unexpected oversupply of spinach and my creative brain kicked in and thought: Saag Paneer, a traditional Indian spiced spinach dish with fresh paneer cheese (think somewhere between ricotta and halloumi), with baked eggs.
I had a request from a customer to come out and see her after sending this dish to their table and upon arrival at the table was greeted by an elderly Indian grandmother who praised me and said this was so close to the saag paneer she remembered from her childhood back in India that she felt she had been transported back there!
In your spare time, what are your THREE top favourite things to do on the Central Coast?
Spearfishing/freediving when the visibility is good, bush walks around our wild region, and discovering new edible plant foraging places along the way!
If you wanted to dazzle your out-of-town friends and family, where would you take them?
My top three would certainly have to be The Lucky Bee over in Ettalong, Sorrento Pizzeria in Empire Bay, or Sushi Dojo in Erina.
Beer? Wine? Cocktail? Mocktail? What is your tipple of choice and where do you frequently visit?
Whisky/whiskey all the way, but am known in certain circles to enjoy an Old Fashioned or Negroni along with an interesting, natty AF vino!
Can’t go past Bar Toto for the best cocktails on the coast, and the Cocojumbo Margarita is just around the corner at LA Taco of course! Vino? Usually, always an Upstairs Wine purchase to drink at home on the deck – how’s the serenity?!
On the daily, what’s guaranteed to make you smile?
Watching my chickens run behind me around the property like little dinosaurs!
What do you NEVER leave the house without?
Gosh, there are a few things on this list: Noise-cancelling earbuds to reduce the chances of sensory overload, my Opinel foraging knife, and more often than not, a mask, snorkel, and fins for diving, plus a big vessel of filtered water!
We’re all about keeping it local here at HUNTERhunter – tell me THREE of your favourite local businesses that you live and breathe by and why you couldn’t live without them…
I’m going to have to mention four here and they are all local farmers - Grace Springs Farm, Full Circle Farm, Fanelli Organics, and Little Feet Gourmet – eat local, seasonal, and ethical!
What are you reading / watching / listening to now?
All about the Do You F*cking Mind podcast by Alexis Fernandez, about neuroscience and mental health with a healthy sprinkle of colourful language!
If you need a short break away from the Central Coast, where do you go and why?
Usually, a quick mission to Sydney for some great eats!
What’s your go-to playlist?
Anyone who knows me knows I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, usually affected by mood day by day.
One day it could be 80s bangers, the next the heaviest in hardcore/screamo emo (emo is not dead!), and I have been known to attempt to sing along to an operatic ballad! Often, I will have obsessions listening to one song over and over again for weeks until something new pops up.
What would you like to see more of on the Central Coast?
The use and support of local farmers, growers and producers, better seasonal and regional-specific food ingredients on menus!
Lucky last – who would you recommend we interview next for SPILL?
Eden Fanelli from Fanelli Organics