At The Bar with Australia’s First Hatted Vegan Chef Shannon Martinez

As the first Australian vegan hatted chef in Victoria, Shannon Martinez famously creates plant-based delights in the dining rooms at Ovolo’s Alibi in Sydney and Lona Misa at Ovolo in South Yarra. Add that to an already busy schedule of running Smith & Deli in Collingwood and her restaurant Smith & Daughters, and you know her palate is never far away from creating another fabulous new addition to the menu.

Martinez recently collaborated with her friend, chef Ben Shewry from Attica for a vegan dining extravaganza which was a huge success a few weeks back.  She’s speed dialling her nearest and dearest mates to keep these fabulous one-off dinners to become a regular pop-up.

“It’s all about bringing in my chef friends who aren’t known for making vegan food and don’t serve much of it at their restaurants,” says Shannon Martinez.

“It’s my way of introducing them to a new group of vegan diners who may not be aware of what they can do,” she says.

Martinez will also be giving her famous Smith & Deli a facelift.

“One of the joys of being a sole trader is trial and error,” says Martinez.

“You only recognise the issues when you’re up and running, so the gully will get a face lift and a few other aspects of the deli too. But, the exciting chapter for me is the collaboration dinners,” says Martinez.

Keep an eye on her Instagram account for future announcements.  We know there’s a goodie coming up next! @shannonmartinez

My Favourite Melbourne era

Melbourne has always been home for me, no matter how many times I went interstate or overseas, I was always happy to come back. It’s easy to live in. At the age of 41, of all the eras, the 90s is by far my favourite. Melbourne didn’t feel like a nanny state, it was loose but not dangerous. I used to live in the city and was a goth. I would hang at Flinders St Station and sit there all day when I was a teenager. We would shop at Peril Underground that was full of goth clothes. I was playing in bands in the 90s and it all about live music. I played the Tote and Max Watts and went to goth clubs in the early 2000s. There was a club called Abyss – a multi-level place where punks were upstairs and the goths were downstairs. There were bondage shows too. I used to go to Gaslight Records on Bourke Street for record signings – you can’t imagine Harry Styles being able to do that now at a record shop! The coolest people worked there. I got swallowed into the Bermuda Triangle in Melbourne in the early 2000s too – it was Pony, Cherry Bar and Ding Dong Lounge. It was such a cool time.

Favourite Food Memory

The first meal I had at La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, Spain in 2002 was mind blowing. It was the first time I went to Europe and to be immersed in this iconic market was like dying and going to heaven for me. I loved it so much I got a tattoo of the market! Being half Spanish, there isn’t a big Spanish community in Melbourne, so when you connect with heritage like that, it does something to you on a chemical level. It made me feel more Spanish. I also grew up going to the Preston Market – these hubs are always a source of inspiration. If I ever feel creatively defunct, I will just cruise around a market for a little while and that’s all I need to get the juices going again.

Bar Memory

If I am out drinking with my friends seeing bands it’s a Tommy’s classic margarita. My favourite bar in Melbourne was Romeo Lane, always great cocktails there.

Best Hangover Cure

Fish and chips always does it – you need carbohydrates and oil.

Best Interstate Bar

I am also at The Continental in Sydney. Mikey is my favourite bartender in Australia. When I go there, I don’t feel like a weird solo alcoholic. It’s like being at a mate’s house where I feel comfortable on my own. As I am often in Sydney for work, it’s my regular go-to. Perfect snacks, perfect staff and perfect drinks = tips.

What You’re Drinking Now

Calvados and Tonic with a wedge of lime. I am never fucking with a gin and tonic again. You get the crispness of a cider without the sugar, and it’s one I recommend you try. You could drink so many so easily. It’s a good one in those times you’re double parked. It’s the ultimate refresher, a palette cleanser mid-drink drink.

Wines You’re Loving

’19 Oratoire St Martin ‘Haut-Coustias’ Blanc (Clairette, Roussanne, Marsanne), ’21 Jose Gil Vino de Pueblo ‘San Vicente’ Rioja (Tempranillo/garnacha) and ’12 Vinteloper Odeon Riesling.

Lona Misa vegan dishes by Martinez.
Lona Misa vegan dishes by Martinez.

Best Live Music Memory

Prodigy at The Metro in 1998. It was psycho. Again, old Melbourne – people were hanging off the staircase and the bar and it was absolute mayhem. Big Day Out was also so important to be back then. Seeing Faithless in the Boiler Room was epic.



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