All images: Otherness
After seven years of working his magic at one of the Barossa’s finest venues, Fino Seppeltsfield, renowned executive chef Sam Smith is making a change and moving to Angaston’s Otherness Wines.
“I’ve been at Fino venues for 11 years, which I think is a testament to the strong working relationship I’ve had with them [owners David Swain and Sharon Romeo],” said Sam.
After a four-year stint at Fino Willunga, Sam moved to Nuriootpa to lead the 150-seat restaurant – double the capacity of the Willunga venue.
“They gave me the opportunity to run Fino Seppeltsfield, which was a big step-up for me! A big kitchen brigade and a very different role.
“I think I achieved a lot in that role, but I felt that my time there had come to a bit of an end, and there were new opportunities for me and for the business.”
As for many hospitality professionals, the pandemic as played a role in Sam’s decision to move.
“With what was happening in the world, managing such a big business – with the openings, closing, shutdowns, and insecurity – was quite a stressful time… like for so many in the industry. The pandemic made everyone think about balance,” said Sam.
“I loved cooking but if I kept going, it was going to burn me out.
“While I was looking for other opportunities within the food industry, and had a few chats with Grant Dickson, who owns Otherness Wines.”
Otherness Wines – a boutique wine bar, cellar door, wine shop and bakery – first opened its doors in January. Barossa restauranteur and local, Grant Dickson, owns Otherness, as well as Southeast Asian restaurant, fermentAsian.
“A lot of what he [Grant] was going about sparked my interest. He kept saying he didn’t want a restaurant, which was an attractive to me. I was looking to move away from the formality of a restaurant and have more freedom,” said Sam.
“The collaborative nature of the business also sparked my interest, with the bakery and little spaces of people to find their niche.”
Sam said his new role allows him to “still stay connect to food” while also having “time for other things”.
“I’m really loving it and believe in it and it has reinvigorated my love and passion for cooking food. It’s great doing the majority of it on my own and one other chef who was one of my old apprentices,” said Sam.
“I think towards the end of time at Fino, what gave me a lot of pleasure was managing people and watching chefs grow and facilitating a really good working culture. I developed a lot of skills from that, but it did take me away from the cooking aspect of it which was the downside. It’s been lovely for me to throw myself into that again.”
As for the food, Sam explained that the smaller space allows for him to be creative with the menu and change it up regularly and think about menu design.
“The food is simple, fresh, and elegant. It’s casual enough for a class of wine and some snacks, but also enough for people to have a full meal. It’s a very friendly, community-driven place and grounded in the Angaston community,” said Sam.
Otherness Wines is located at 38 Murray Street, Angaston SA 5360.