One of Fitzroy’s favourite spots on the bustling Gertrude Street, Enoteca, is about to host a rather interesting pop-up wine and dine in January. The event is named Ela (έλα) aka ‘come’ in Greek and apart from getting Melburnians acquainted with traditional and more intricate Hellenic flavours and, of course, wine. Writer and aspiring chef Ella Mittas alongside Mon Ditbunjong, will host the month long event starting 3 January 2018, offering foodies and the curious Greek style feasts to be remembered. Concentrating on using quality ingredients and traditional Greek recipes, the pop-up will explore different regions of Greece, featuring dishes from the Peloponnese, Crete, Cycladic islands and Northern Greece, also showcasing wines from each region.
There will be ticketed late lunches on every Sunday of the month January that will feature set menus with dished is inspired by Ella’s time living and working in Greece, and her time spent working with Enoteca’s part owner and chef Brigitte Hafner. Ela will draw inspiration from Rebetiko the film and as a bonus, patrons will be able to enjoy the infamous Greek Blues live by an acclaimed Melbourne band and a special soundtrack curated for the event.
We tracked down Ella earlier this week, who amidst ardent preparations for her semi-namesake event, found the time to give us some more details about the much anticipated pop-up and herself.
You are a freelance writer and a reviewer. How does that intertwine with food related events?
I think studying writing has gotten me to approach food from a research point of view. All the food events I’ve hosted have been the result of some sort of cultural research trip. I’ll go and gather as much information as I can, and instead of coming home and writing about them , I’ll put on a dinner. This pop-up is the third under the same theme. For the last three years I’ve been traveling and working in Greece and Turkey to learn as much as I can about traditional and regional foods. These dinners are a way of me showcasing all the things that I’ve learnt. I was very inspired while I was in Greece by the tradition of listening to Rebetiko. I love the culture of gathering together, eating and listing to live music as a community, that was the idea behind the pop-up, I want to create that same atmosphere.
How many dishes will there be on the menu?
The menu will be changing daily. We have set menu lunches every Sunday showcasing different regions of Greece, Crete, The Peloponnese, Northern Greece and the Cyclades. Those lunches are ticketed, they’re a set menu of about six to eight dishes, with specially designed menus just for those days. For the other days of the week, the menu will be small, again around six to eight dishes a day and they will change daily, taking inspiration from all over Greece.
How easy was it to get a place like Enoteca interested in hosting such an event?
Enoteca was the first kitchen I worked in. Part owner and chef Brigitte Hafner was my first chef and is still my cooking mentor. The pop-up has come about more due to our friendship. We will be cooking together for the event something I’m very excited about.
You are delivering the full experience, with live music and everything. Who will be performing?
Performing we have Con Kalamaras from Rebetika in Melbourne helping us to curate, so we will have different musicians each time we have music on, which will mainly be on the Friday nights and Sundays. Wayne Simons from Polyxeni will also be playing with a few different musicians too.
Do you focus mainly on Hellenic flavours and wine or do you do the same for other ethnic cuisines?
I focus mainly on Greek and Turkish flavours as they are the areas I’ve studied, lived and worked in.
Based on your experience, do such events attract the mainstream or predominantly aim at Mediterranean audiences?
Our audience has been really varied, I think there is something for everyone at the pop-ups.
Other than Mon Ditbunjong, is anyone else contributing to organising the event? Did someone help you put together the wine list (I assume the biodynamic wines and rosé are from Greek labels)?
We work with Douglas Lamb wines, David Lamb has been great with teaching us about Greek Wines. My other good friend Julieanne Blum will be helping me in the kitchen, as well as Tansy Good who I’m very excited to get to work alongside.
How connected would you say you are to your Greek heritage in general?
Tell us a few things about your background.
I have been trying to become more connected to my Greek heritage for the last few years. My Greek family in Brunswick have been such an important and supportive part of my life and have been most of the influence to why I started cooking. Lunches and dinners with them have been some of the most special times for me growing up. Cooking Greek food has been a way for me to celebrate my heritage. All of the research I do, all of the time I’ve spent in Greece has defiantly brought me closer to them and I feel very lucky I get to work in a way that allows me to explore in this way.
Are you considering turning such events into a regular thing?
I’m focusing the next year on trying to do as many of these types of events as possible, so hopefully!
*To find out more about the event you can follow the pop-up’s Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/ela_melbourne/ or check out Ella’s website at ellmittas.com