There has been plenty of activity in restaurant circles this week, be it new ownership, menu and opening time changes or hot action in the kitchen, as Julie-anne Sprague reports.

ALL things going to plan, the probable new owners of Campo de Fiori, Hans Lang and Marianne Kempf, will officially sign off the deal and open the doors in June. They are close to saying it’s a done deal. Hans says its 95 per cent complete, but there are still a few loose ends to tie up. But, if and when all the formal signing goes ahead, Hans says he and Marianne will bring a host of changes to the Ardross restaurant. Hans concedes that Campo is synonymous with Umberto Tinelli and will change the name and serve international cuisine, not just Italian. But Hans and Marianne are not new faces to the restaurant scene. Their CVs are pretty impressive and, with their experience, it’s easy to see why they will bring international flavours to Ardross. Hans and Marianne came to Perth in 1986 to help set up Burswood’s Windows Restaurant.

“When we got here there was no restaurant to work at so we worked at the casino kitchen for a year,” Hans says. But a year later they were part of the team that created a fine dining restaurant that has won accolade after accolade. Hans went on to become the hotel’s executive chef and Marianne was the head chef at Windows until just over a year ago.

Hans is mindful of the pitfalls of previous owners, Yvette and Duncan Barker, who appointed administrators in February.

“If you do your own place you should do your own thing,” Hans says.

“We want to do fine dining, but in a relaxed way. We want the food to be fine dining but the atmosphere less formal so you can come in here without wearing a tie.”

And the couple will be adopting a healthy approach to cooking with tips learned from their recent trip overseas.

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Ivan Rutherford’s Bacco restaurant has closed, but just on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. While the restaurant up the street, Phillimore’s, is for sale, for Ivan it’s business as usual. Well, almost.

“We’ve gone to winter hours and put out a winter menu,” Ivan says.

But of course every man has his price.

“I’ve always had the policy that everything is for sale, including my wife if you can afford her, but you most likely can’t.”

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Gusto caught up with management at C Restaurant this week to see who is in charge after the departure of Pete and Ken Clements. Long-time C man and current general manager (and shareholder) Patrick Shaw, along with a couple of cooking buddies, make up the consortium that bought out shares in the business. Patrick has been there since the day C opened on January 26 2001, originally as head chef. Before the cooking tenure at C he had worked at the Vermilion in Cottesloe, the Subiaco Hotel, Lenox Bar and Cafe, and Matilda Bay, all up about 19 years of cooking. But Patrick drifted from the kitchen to the office and became the general manager. He says the new ownership will not change the functioning of C but will, like a true chef, place greater emphasis on the food.

“We will run with the same system with a focus on the restaurant. The food is excellent and we’ve just got Malcolm Gale in as a sous chef, as well as a new apprentice from Altos,” Patrick says. And the $25 lunch will stay, so if you’re intrigued by what the talented kitchen staff can do, see you there.

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Steve Scaffidi and the team at Altos will be back in business on Monday May 27. A fire last Friday morning (about 1am), believed to have been caused by an electrical fault, caused some damage to the kitchen and bar area.

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