Whether we’re talking to Woodgrove retailers or to our valued community members, everyone seems to agree that the community spirit is strong here at Woodgrove. Being part of a tight-knit community is something Woodgrove locals really value, and even though we can’t be together in the way we’d like to be (for now), we can still support each other and stay connected in different ways.
For many of us, a morning coffee from our favourite café or a weekly night out with the family at our favourite local restaurant is the stuff that makes life sweet. These important rituals connect us with our community, offer a warm welcome and provide us with a sense of place.
There’s plenty of ways to stay connected with your favourite eateries – and support the good people behind them.
Before you get lost browsing the menus of your Woodgrove faves, we thought we’d take this time to get to know some of the dedicated foodies who are busy bringing you all your favourite comfort eats.
As chef and manager, Sumit gets a thrill from working with quality ingredients and developing new recipes for the specials board at La Porchetta. He believes Melton diners have a unique appreciation for everyday entertaining as well as bold Italian-style flavours.
Q:Why do you think La Porchetta has become a local favourite?
A:People in Melton know good food and when you're looking for a freshly prepared meal that'll bring you comfort, La Porchetta is an easy choice. We worked hard to ensure the quality of our food never wavered during COVID restrictions and now we have a whole new group of customers who discovered us through our takeaway and home delivery offering.
Q:Which menu items would you recommend to a first-time visitor?
A:Our fettuccine carbonara and tortellini al matriciana are all-time favourites. I make at least 40 servings of carbonara a day and I think that's partly because families around here recognise the value for money you get from a hearty dish like that. The napoli sauce recipe we use for our matriciana pasta comes straight from La Porchetta's founder's mum, so it's authentic and delicious.
Q:What else do you think keeps folks coming back week in, week out?
A:Besides the fact that we cook with only the finest produce, I like to think the sense of camaraderie that we have in the kitchen extends out to our customers. We have a couple of regular patrons who are forever quizzing me about our secret ingredients or inviting me over for dinner, and I take that as a great compliment. Also, who can go past $10 Parma Tuesday?
Q:The restaurant is a bit of a magnet for young families isn't it?
A:That happens when you have 10-plus ice cream flavours to choose from! But seriously, we see it as part of our job to take the stress away from parents when they come and see us; make sure the kids are happy and well-fed, and everyone's happy. Our broad range of vegan options also makes it easy for people with different dietary requirements to dine out together.
Q:You've worked in plenty of restaurant and hotel kitchens - what's special about the La Porchetta team?
A:While we're extremely focused on maintaining a safe and efficient kitchen, I'm also a firm believer in continually learning and trying new things. That open-mindedness is how we ended up with one of our most popular specials ever: the Irish parma with mash, bacon and gravy.
Q:It sounds like you love your job, would you say that passion for food is common at Woodgrove?
A:We have a wonderful community of food lovers and hospitality professionals here. I'm often dashing across to our friends at Degani or Melton International Grocer to borrow something or exchange ideas, and an atmosphere like that makes it a pleasure to come to work.
You can now order La Porchetta for takeaway and delivery.
Husband and wife team, Mel and Angie are the faces behind one of the centre's favourite cafes, Degani, where they serve up freshly brewed coffee, inventive brunches, healthy salads, wood-fired pizza and a host of café-style classics.
At Woodgrove, as at all Degani cafes right across Australia, the mission is the same; to ensure "that every customer walk out of Degani happier than when they walked in" - a value that Mel and Angie are keen to uphold.
Q:Mel, tell us about your career journey. What got you to where you are today?
A: My journey in the food industry began with a role as a kitchen hand. I then moved to being a waiter and bartender to cook to chef to owner. I moved my way up step by step, learning as I went. Angie is a qualified chef who has worked with big names for 15 years and in front-of-house roles. “I learned a lot from them. The journey has been beautiful,” Angie says.
Q:Mel, tell us what you love most about working with food.
A: My passion for food started in childhood when I started learning and cooking at home with mum. It went to the next level when I finished my Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery here in Melbourne. I have been lucky to have worked in many different venues over the past 15 years. Because Melbourne is so multicultural it has given me an opportunity to learn about different cuisines and to really broaden my skills as a chef.
Q:Mel, what's your favourite menu item and why do you love it?
A: My favourite Degani menu item is the woodfired pizza. The flavours and aromas of freshly baked bread and pizza from the wood-fired oven are just incredible.
Q: What do you think makes Degani so popular with your regulars?
A: The kind of service and care we provide is simply unbeatable. The food is great, the coffee is but our staff are the key to our success – without a good team you can’t win. Degani has always been about delighting local customers by becoming a part of the community. We know that each customer deserves a tailored experience, and just as we make each coffee to order, our menu is created to meet the needs of the local community too.
PHOTO: Mel above & Angie Below
You can now order Degani for takeaway and delivery.
A proud Melton resident and dedicated mum to an energetic 2-year-old, Sarah is the Store Manager at our popular Grill’d burger outlet. Known for their 100 percent natural, healthy-meets-delicious burgers, Grill’d has been a solid go-to for health-conscious foodies during iso.
Q: Hi Sarah! What can you tell us about your career in food?
A: My career started at age 15 with KFC, where I stared in a role as team member and worked my way through to become restaurant manager. After a detour into the world of fitness as a personal trainer, I was drawn back to food. The hospitality industry was calling my name and so I began my journey with Grill’d.
Q: Sounds like you’re now combining your two passions – food and health?
A: Yes, I’m passionate about creating and living a life to the fullest; and with that comes healthy eating and saying active.
Q: What do you most love about your job?
A: Working in the food industry, you get to make somebody’s day. As humans, there are many reasons we eat out, but one of them is a desire to be taken care of – and we get to do that here at Grill’d!
Q: We know the burgers are awesome but what else do customers love about Grill’d?
A: Our guests love dining with Grill’d as they can indulge in a burger and know that what they are eating is healthy, honest and locally sourced. The guest experience as whole is genuine.
Q: It’s not just the guilt-free burgers that Grill’d does so well, sounds like you guys are focused on helping the community, too.
A: One of the reasons I love working with Grill’d is our Local Matters program, which sees each Grill’d store support three different local community groups each month. I live in Melton, so this allows us to entrench ourselves in our local community and build some pretty special relationships
Q: OK Sarah, crunch time: What’s your all-time favourite Grill’d order?
A: I’m a sucker for a beef burger. I love the Summer Sunset [grass-fed beef pattie with crispy bacon, charred pineapple, avocado, cos lettuce, tomato, Spanish onion, relish and herbed mayo] – add cheese!
You can now order Grill’d for takeaway and delivery.