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The women of food: Meet 3 hospitality veterans of the QVB

04 Jul 2019

Today, women make up many of the successful chefs, managers and owners of the hospitality world. But this wasn’t always so. Meet the self-made, pioneering women of the QVB, who are without doubt the creative heart and soul of some of our best loved kitchens.


Adriana Aldea, Cicchetti Wine Bar


Back in her native Romania, Adriana Aldea worked as a photographer, but a world swiftly going digital left her at a fork in the road, and she boldly chose a transition of her own – into the kitchen. “I’m completely self-taught. I learnt on the job while starting my first restaurant,” she says.


In 2014, with over twenty years under her belt, Adriana took over Cicchetti Wine Bar, where she lives out her passion for producing dishes just as she’d like to eat them, made in-house from scratch.   


“I don’t like buying things pre-made,” she says, everything is made from scratch on premise. “Our jams, sauces, mayonnaise is all freshly prepared. That way, when people ask if the risotto is gluten-free for example, I can say it is because I know everything that goes into it.”


The philosophy is a way to not only stand out in a world where convenience is king, but to cater to customers in the best possible way. 


Kelly Lee, Cellini’s 


Set amongst the once disparate second level of the QVB, Cellini’s is a family-run restaurant built on a dedicated foundation.  


When Kelly Lee immigrated to Australia, she quickly worked her way through the ranks in hotels (even preparing a meal for former prime minister Bob Hawke on one occasion) and restaurants. In 1999, nearly 10 years on, she was offered the QVB venue and jumped at the chance, even in the midst of a drastic tourism drought in Australia. 


At the time, she estimates that 70 per cent of the shops were shut down, but she refused to give up, carefully crafting her menu of diverse, modern Australian comfort foods. And now, she has the regulars to prove it. 


“I’m so lucky,” she says, when telling us that some of her customers have been with her since she opened. “It’s a big cosy space, where they feel at home.” 


Angela Giovannis, The Little Fish Shoppe


The Little Fish Shoppe opened back in 1986 under the savvy eyes of owners Angela, xx, and her husband, Manuel. Though the couple have since retired, their daughter, Marie, is first to let you know that Angela remains very much the backbone of the operation. 


“She’s still popping in on a regular basis,” Marie explains, and all of the recipes have been carried down through their history. 


Now serving hundreds daily come lunchtime, thanks to the hard work and dedication Angela has instilled in her family, they’re up before 5am each morning prepping fresh ingredients and crafting salads to family recipes for the busy day ahead.