Spotlight Series – Cafe Melba at Mediapolis
Quisine’s Spotlight Series takes an inside look at the food and beverage industry by speaking with the folks who know it best – restaurant owners, chefs and managers. This time around, we get the inside scoop on Café Melba at Mediapolis.
Adrian Philip Houghton and Kacey Whaitiri Roberts are the directors behind this adored Australasian-inspired café and restaurant in the heart of Singapore.
Tell us about one of the funniest experiences you’ve had in your restaurant
Adrian: A lady came into the venue once and asked me for some hot water. I gave it to her of course, as I thought she was going to make up a bottle for her baby. She took the water, walked over to one of the tables and sat down. As she was alone I was a bit confused. She then pulled out a cup of noodles from her bag and poured the water into it. She was politely asked to leave!
What do you feel your restaurant adds to Singapore’s dining scene?
Adrian: Service. We spend a lot of time and effort training our staff which not only improves a guest’s experience but helps us retain the staff. Far too often guests experience poor service in Singapore, so it’s been a mission of mine to change that since I arrived in Singapore in 1996.
Is there a dish on your menu that you’re most proud of and is there a story behind it?
Kacey: I don’t really have a favourite dish on the menu at Café Melba as they always tend to evolve over time. It’s one of those things that you continuously look at and say “that’s great” but after a while you tend to tweak and improve on different elements. We have our signatures though. One thing I do love are our pizzas which are handmade and made to order. We make sure the technique, ingredients and equipment we use are premium to ensure a perfect result. Our oven is the Ferrari of pizza ovens and when I gave the quote to the Director his jaw dropped! But after a few days of consideration he gave me the green light and 6 months later it had paid for itself (phew!).
Check out some of our other spotlight series articles
What are your food trend predictions for the coming years?
Kacey:I have been a chef for over 20 years and when I started out you used to make everything from scratch which was amazing. These days, a lot of those skills are no longer being taught due to the shortage in labour. It seems there are more quick grab-and-go and delivery options becoming readily available with the added convenience of ordering online and eating at home or the office.
If you could sit down for a meal at your restaurant with any two people in the world, who would you choose and why?
Adrian: I assume you mean famous people and not family? Stephen Fry and Pele. I’ve only seen Stephen Fry on TV and YouTube but he mesmerises me when he talks and I was lucky enough to be a guest when Pele was in Singapore and his passion when he speaks was fascinating.