Chef, restaurateur, writer and now TV presenter, Karen Martini has only ever wanted to cook and she has been doing so for as long as she can remember.
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Karen’s food is unmistakably that of the Mediterranean, but is also undeniably individual. She is firmly produce driven and has a passion for fresh herbs, heirloom tomatoes, fennel, garlic, virgin olive oil, sheep and goat’s milk curds and cheeses, olives, anchovies, coriander seeds, cumin, the freshest seafood and properly aged organic meat.
In the ‘90’s, Karen held head chefs positions at Haskin’s and the much lauded Kent Hotel, before cementing her reputation at The Melbourne Wine Room; in St Kilda’s iconic George Hotel. Karen was the founding chef at The Melbourne Wine Room and has garnered countless ‘Chef’s Hats’ from The Age Good Food Guide in her eight years as Executive Chef there. Karen became a partner in the business in 1997.
In 2002, Karen couldn’t resist the opportunity to take up a unique career challenge with friend and business partner, at The Melbourne Wine Room, Maurice Terzini (driving force behind such Melbourne restaurant icons as Caffé e Cucina, Il Bacaro, The Melbourne Wine Room and Sydney’s Otto), and accepted the mantle of Executive Chef at what was soon to become one of Australia’s most talked about restaurants. Positioned overlooking Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach, Icebergs Dining Room & Bar became her much loved second home for two years.
When Karen was appointed Executive Chef at Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, she retained executive control over the kitchen at The Melbourne Wine Room and still continues to closely supervise both the menu and the high standard of the food there. Testament to her ability to manage this dual role, Karen has been awarded two ‘Chef’s Hats’ for both restaurants from each city’s well-respected Good Food Guides. The Icebergs, was also awarded Best New Restaurant in The Sydney Morning Herald’s 2004 Good Food Guide.
In July, 2004 Karen opened Mr Wolf, a new ‘Martini-esque style’ pizzeria, restaurant and bar, with her long term partner (both in life and business) Michael Sapountsis in Melbourne’s St Kilda.
Over the years, Karen has cooked for many charity functions including; Chefs Unite – Feed for Seed, a fundraising dinner where total proceeds of the event went to a tsunami rebuilding project in Sri Lanka; The Mission Dinner for the Homeless; The Breast Cancer Foundation; and The Starlight Foundation Four Chefs Dinners. She was a featured chef, alongside Stephanie Alexander; at a major Slow Food Dinner in Turin, Italy in 1998, and has been a key presenter at The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. Karen has also contributed several articles to The Weekend Australian.
Always up for a new challenge, in August 2004, Karen Martini became the food editor of Sunday Life, the Sun Herald and Sunday Age’s weekly magazine, published in both Sydney and Melbourne. In 2005 Karen was the resident chef on LifeStyle Cafe, a 13-part series on the LifeStyle Channel and she is currently in her fourth year presenting recipes to over 1 million viewers a week on Australia’s Longest running LifeStyle Show, Channel 7’s Better Homes & Gardens.... Read more.
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