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e may have 20 years of cheffing exper ience under his belt
and a fine diner celebrating its 10th birthday this year (a
true feat in this industry), but George Calombar is still has
plenty left in the tank.
At 38 years of age, he oversees Made Establishment, which today
comprises five different dining concepts ranging from the 32-seat fine
diner, The Press Club, to Jimmy Grants, Calombar is’ foray into the
booming ‘fast casual’ sector.
When we spoke with him, the group was about to launch its first
Australian interstate venture, a Jimmy Grants outlet at The Kitchens
food precinct in Robina, Queensland, and a restaurant is due to open
on Sydney’s Albion Street, Sur ry Hills next year.
Calombar is has claimed a swagger of industry awards including
being named Chef of the Year in The Age Good Food Guide (2008)
and Entrepreneur of Year (Souther n Region Emerging category) in
the 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year Awards. As a young
chef he represented Australia at the 2003 Bocuse d’Or Inter national
Culinary Grand Prix in Lyon, France, and was even the subject of one
of this year’s winning Archibald Prize portraits.
His first ever restaurant,The Press Club has been donned with two hats
by The Age and was named Best New Restaurant in 2008. But accolades
are not a measure of success for this son of Egyptian and Cypriot migrants.
“Put the awards, the recognition and all that stuff aside,” he said. “It’s
an exciting thing to know that we’ve been a profitable restaurant for 10
years. And profit doesn’t mean the amount of money you put in your
pocket – well, it does – but more than anything, it’s the fact that we pay
our suppliers and we pay our staff.We’ve done things the r ight way and
I think [The Press Club] has been the backbone and the impetus for
the rest of the group.
“Without The Press Club there would never have been the Hellenic
Republic, and without The Press Club there would never have been Gazi
or Jimmy Grant’s.There would never have been Mastic, there would never
have been me travelling around the world, or George on MasterChef.The
Press Club is my credibility, and when I moved it a couple of years ago
[from Exhibition Street to Flinders Road, some 600m away] I could have
shut it in its entirety and put a Jimmy Grants there, but I didn’t want to
choose the easy way, because that place feeds my soul and my creativity,
and it makes so many people happy,” Calombar is said.
George Calombaris is this year celebrating the tenth anniversary of his flagship restaurant, The Press Club,
and is using the occasion to reflect on the importance of leading from within. By Danielle Bowling.
Hospitality BUSINESS | December 2016 - January 2017 | 31
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