The evolution of Flotilla + a new wine bar
Photography courtesy of David Griffen
Since 2019, Newcastle has been gathering at the tables of Wickham-based dining institution, Flotilla.
Today, four years since the venue’s inception, Flotilla continues to offer a warm and passionate dining experience now with Jake Deluca taking over the venue’s kitchen and Eduardo Molina working towards a new wine bar.
With Chef Deluca’s creations hitting the tables this week, he has officially made his mark on our local dining scene. Offering a fresh approach to the steel city’s only hatted restaurant, Flotilla’s new menu is rumoured to change every four to six weeks, as part of the set menu format.
Deluca brings with him a great pedigree, of Italian descent, food has always been in his blood, and the desire to become a chef came naturally, with inspiration coming from his grandfather.
Having trained under Hunter Valley icon Robert Molines, Deluca worked at Bistro Molines for several years before joining Yellow Billy’s Sam Alexander in the Reserve Wine Bar Newcastle days, before heading abroad to London to garner further experience in both life and the kitchen.
“My time in London allowed me to grow as a chef but also as a human being. It opened my mind to other kitchens, techniques and flavours which now define a lot of who I am as a chef. It was also a time of growth as I left all I knew from my time in the Hunter and opened myself to everything London had to offer. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun doing so,” Jake said.
Working in London at Lorne, Deluca was mentored by Peter Hall and Graham Brown before moving over to the Michelin-starred La Trompette working under Rob Weston; both experiences offered new techniques, working flavours, and ultimately expanding his creativity.
That creativity has been brought to the new menu at Flotilla. Diners will be able to opt for the Thursday to Saturday evening five-course option, or the (+), adding ‘snacks’ and a decadent additional course which are way too good to skip, or settle in for weekend-long lunches on both Saturday and Sunday.
The hyper-seasonal menu enables the kitchen to source only super fresh, local produce that may be in season for only a matter of weeks at a time and feature them on their rotating menu.
“I care deeply about my relationship with our suppliers and farmers and look at them for advice on what’s fresh and tasting well at that moment I write a new menu. It’s important for my creativity to keep things changing. It also keeps it interesting for our customers because they know that there is always a new dish to have.”
That same ethos flows through to Flotilla’s drinks menu, with cocktails designed to complement the season and wines paired with the ever-changing seasonal menu.
As Flotilla moves in this new dining direction, so does its ownership with founders, Silverchair’s former bassist Chris Joannou and Zach Scholtz, recognising that their frontman, Eduardo Molina, is key to the venue’s success.
“I was given the opportunity by Chris and Zach to take an equal part of the business at the end of last year and it was a no-brainer for me. I truly love Flotilla for its culture, people, and unbreakable drive to be better every day.
“Flotilla is my home, a place where I’ve gotten to meet so many beautiful people and made enough memories to last me for the next 100 years,” Eduardo said.
Bringing with him as much charisma as experience, Eduardo spent years running some of California’s most regarded restaurants. His love for wine and hospitality can be felt as soon as you walk through Flotilla’s doors.
Eduardo has long had a vision to create his own wine bar, and directly alongside Flotilla, he is planning to do just that. Some would say he is building a small fleet, just as the name Flotilla implies.
The ‘bar’ as it’s currently known, is penned to open in the early spring and is currently being fitted out by acclaimed Newcastle-based architect Jason Elsley of Derive Architecture who completed the original fit-out for Flotilla back in 2019.
“The biggest news in Flotilla’s history is that we’re adding a new venue to our stable. We have been wanting to expand our current offering for a while and finally got our chance when the site directly next door became vacant.
“We’re super excited to be working on a new wine bar with a banging list and snacks offering which will be coming very soon. Stay tuned.”
The future is bright for Flotilla with dynamic duo, Jake and Eduardo at the venue’s helm and the brand’s growth of their small fleet.