Executive chef. Owner.
Ray Capaldi has been an influence and a power in the Melbourne food scene for more than 20 years. But inevitably the city, in those decades, has had and continues to have a profound influence on the man himself.
With the force and passion of a deep love food and for his adopted home, he talks of the inspiration that Melbourne’s depth and breadth of food culture provides him every day. These days that mostly results in his enthusiasm for what he is terming “traderne” – a combination of tradition and modern.
He sees it as mixing the homely values, nourishment, flavours and spirit of older, traditional styles of cooking with innovation that excites the customers. “It can be a little bit lighter, in a different style but still with that buzz of excitement,” he says.
“I’m always looking for different ways of doing things, and that’s the sort of inspiration that Melbourne provides. There’s a vast depth of cuisine here. Mostly these days it’s about keeping things quite minimal – making the most of your main component.”
Ray has gained experience in the some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the world. They include Gleneagles in Scotland, the Dorchester in London, the British Embassy in Moscow, the Park Lane Hong Kong and Hotel Sofitel Melbourne to name a few. Through professional association and a growing vision for a “back to basics” approach to the industry, Ray opened Fenix in 2001 to wide acclaim.
In November 2010 he moved to his latest venture, Hare and Grace Eatery and Minibar on Collins St.
Some of Ray’s major achievements also include being awarded three Chef’s Hats in The Age Food Guide, establishment of the Sofitel Cooking Academy and winning the Scottish Chef of the Year award in 1992. He was named Young UK Chef of the Year in 1985 and represented the UK in the culinary Olympics in Osaka.
In his spare time Ray likes to keep up with the latest restaurant trends wether through his near obsessive collection of ideas and recipes or through eating out locally or around the world. “I like checking out other restaurants,” he says. “I like adding to my 10,000 strong collection of cookbooks – everything from famous chefs to stuff from women’s magazines. And I love scouring op shops and the like for old and interesting cooking implements.”
He cites Vue De Monde, Atlantic, Cumulus Inc, Longrain and Attica as being among his favourites places.
And let’s not forget his favourite sport. “I’m a soccer fan – Man U and Heart of Midlothian for me! I play soccer on Sundays. At first, I supported Victory in the A-League, but now – of course – I’ve switched over to Melbourne Heart.”
General manager and Owner
Caitlin Ingram commenced a chef apprenticeship at the Sofitel in 1994 under Raymond Capaldi and competed in various culinary competitions and gained several accolades including Apprentice of Victoria.
Caitlin then travelled to London and worked in various five star hotels including the Savoy and the Dorchester. She then went on to become head chef at Lodge Catering catering for the Royal Family, Parliament and many celebrities.
Caitlin returned to Melbourne in 2004 where she became events manager at Fenix in Richmond for Raymond Capaldi and was then promoted to restaurant manager of the Maribyrnong Boathouse.
Caitlin is now back working with Ray as general manager of Hare & Grace.
Overall Caitlin has been working for Raymond for 16 years; he is a great friend and mentor.
Marketing and Events Manager and Owner
Jessica Stuart started off working with Ray Capaldi as assistant events manager in 2004 at Fenix Restaurant and Events in Richmond and was promoted to events manager in 2006.
Jessica then travelled throughout Europe for the next year and on her return she returned to work for Ray again at the Maribyrnong Boathouse as assistant restaurant manager.
Jessica is now the manager and a joint owner of Hare & Grace and has been working with her mentor for seven years.