Former Masterchef judge and celebrity chef George Calombaris is headed to Sydney, joining Alpha restaurant next month as a creative partner.

The Melbourne-based restaurateur and cook will be taking over from founder Peter Conistis, who has already departed the CBD diner.

Conistis is celebrated as a pioneer of Sydney modern Greek, and the Castlereagh Street restaurant is one of the harbour city’s most-loved eateries.

Calombaris praised his fellow Greek Australian, saying he’s keen to continue evolve Alpha, but admits he has some trepidation.

“What Peter’s done for Greek food in Australia is amazing,” he told Sydney Morning Heralds goodfood.

“I’m nervous as hell. I come here with so much respect, joining somewhere steeped in history.”

The 45-year-old wanted a challenge in a fresh city, and despite having some experience in Sydney with his embattled souvlaki fast-food chain, Jimmy Grants, this will be his first restaurant venture.

He was also intrigued by the Greekness of the location saying that “the Greek consulate is across the road, there are Greek men playing backgammon behind (Alpha), it has a great feel.”

George Calombaris. Photo: Blue Sky Projects/Facebook

Calombaris planning to spend one week every fortnight in Sydney, travelling between there and Melbourne for the next six months, continuing his work at the award-winning Hellenic House Project.

But as for Alpha, he’s already got plans for how he’ll revamp the venue.

“I’m going to tweak the dining experience and part of that will be relaxing the menu, amping up the atmosphere and introducing a whole lot of fun,” he said.

“Fresh, bright, light, yummy, super-interesting, not cliched.

“I want the place to be fun. I’m into fun dining, not fine dining.”

It is expected that a fresh food and drinks menu with cocktails will be introduced and a Greek karaoke room may be in the works.

While has had his share of controversy in the past – the 2019 audit that found he underpaid his staff (now reimbursed) and his business Made Establishment went into voluntary administration in 2020, he is revelling in the new opportunity.

“I’m older and more mature, that egotistical young chef has gone.”

“The day I stop learning I should hang up the apron.”