Local Heroes: South Melbourne Market (Nicky Riemer)
There aren’t too many more experienced chefs in the South Melbourne community than Nicky Riemer. From Richmond Hill Café and Larder, to Union Dining in Richmond, Riemer is now the head chef at Bellota in South Melbourne. Aside from balancing her head chef duties, Riemer also imparts her culinary wisdom at the Neff Market Kitchen at the South Melbourne Market. We spoke to Nicky – our latest Local Hero from the South Melbourne Market – about her background in food and her inspirations for teaching others.
Hi Nicky! Tell us a bit about yourself and why food is so important to you
“I have been a chef for over 20 years, from heading up a kitchen of 25 chefs in Hong Kong to owning my own restaurant for six years. I now find myself in the dream job of Head Chef at Bellota Wine and Food here in South Melbourne and love it.
I love being able to constantly look at the pairing of food and wine, and design great bar food using classic cooking techniques.
Utilising locally sourced and more nation-wide sourced ingredients is fundamental to my cooking; from Portarlington mussels to Noosa Hinterland tomatoes, all Australian produce is the best!”
Describe your business and your experience running cooking classes at the market
“I have been part of the team of visiting chefs to the Neff Market Kitchen for over 6 years now, and absolutely love taking the masterclasses. I especially love seeing the change in seasonal produce coming through the market, which I aim to feature in the menus I am demonstrating.
We get a wonderful mix of people through the classes, I have noticed in particular the real diversity in backgrounds and ages since I started, [with] more young people interested in classic cooking techniques than ever before.”
What’s your inspiration behind teaching others about food, and how does it make you feel?
“Each time I plan a menu for my masterclass I look at what is in season and what I feel people want to be eating during that season. Summer and spring may be more seafood driven, whilst autumn and winter see my love of braising and Italian or French cuisine come out to shine.
I thrive on seeing ‘home cooks’ learning new skills, and nothing gives me more joy than to see a returning ‘student of food’ coming back to a class with pictures of what they cooked based on their previous class with me.”
What are some of your favourite spots to check out in the South Melbourne area?
“South Melbourne has its own special vibe – casual, foodie, wine focused, fun and never boring. I love everything around the market. My Sunday is always spent at the market, buying food for home (I love a good cook up at home on my day off!) and eating the best roast chicken roll in Melbourne at Proper & Son.
I love Chef’s Hat for purchasing a sort after new pot or pan and I always have room for a sweet treat from Bibelot and a book from Coventry Bookstore. I always stop into Essential Ingredient’s South Melbourne outpost too, because you can never have enough ingredients!”
What do you love most about being the head chef at Bellota and being in the South Melbourne area?
“I guess the best thing about being a head chef at Bellota is definitely the Prince Wine Store and the closeness of the South Melbourne Market.
First, the wine available at PWS is so vast and interesting that it is hard to choose and when I need some menu inspiration the market is just around the corner.”
What do you hope South Melbourne will take on – what is needed in the area?
“I would love to see more intimate wine bars that offer great value and interesting food.”
Check out what classes are available at the Neff Market Kitchen from Nicky and other acclaimed chefs, or see some of our other local heroes on the Explore Port Phillip blog.
South Melbourne Market
Corner of Coventry and Cecil Streets, South Melbourne
Wednesday 8 am to 4 pm
Friday 8 am to 5 pm
Saturday and Sunday 8 am to 4 pm
181 Bank Street, South Melbourne
Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 11 pm