At The Bar with Trader House Group Executive Chef Ben Pollard

Ben Pollard, Group Executive Chef at Trader House can be found at the Australian Open this week as the competition enters its finals run.

Pollard is busily overseeing the Morning Market pop-up at the AO – the iconic Melbourne grocer with locations in Prahran and Fitzroy is a fabulous pitstop with quality food to keep us fuelled.

Courtside, Morning Market is keeping the crowds caffeinated as well as serving baked goods, chicken and salad sandwiches, a kimchi toastie and pepperoni focaccia pizzas by the slice.

Best known as chef Andrew McConnell’s right-hand man, Pollard also helped spearhead the Supernormal restaurant at Melbourne Park last year.

Pollard talks to The Write Drop for our At The Bar Series – sharing his love of Melbourne cocktail bars, wineries he recommends in the Yarra Valley and what cocktail best sums up his personality.


I live in Melbourne although I consider myself to be quite nomadic. I have moved around most of my life and gone where work took me. I love the pace of Melbourne and the hospitality scene, which is exciting and ever evolving.


It was 2002 and I was in northern Thailand with David Thompson. It was 40˚C and he took me to a restaurant on a boat situated on a river that had sprinklers on its roof. Water was pouring down the sides, and all around us while we sat there and ate the most delicious river prawns I have ever tasted. It was so spicy, and I remember sweating and loving every bite. This is where my love for super spicy food started.


If I am venturing outside of our Trader House restaurants and bars, my go-to place is City Wine Shop. I love sitting outside on a summers’ (or winters’) day and soaking up the atmosphere. If I’m looking for something a little more discreet, I go to Caretaker’s Cottage. Their drinks are incredible.


It has to be a Negroni. Straight to the point, slightly bitter and no faffing about!


I like to tackle it in reverse and I drink copious amounts of water when I can feel a big night kicking in. The key is keeping well-hydrated the next day and some northern Chinese spicy noodles usually always hit the spot.


I recently discovered the Caterpillar Club in Sydney, which is part of the Swillhouse crew, and is open till 4am. To find somewhere that does next level drinks and snacks at this time has to be a winner in my books.


I have quite a sweet tooth so I enjoy drinking Dr Loosen Rieslings at home. If I am dining out, and depending on the food, I will generally opt for an Australian Chardonnay.


We live on the doorstep of the Yarra Valley and are spoiled for choice. If we have the kids, we will go to Hubert Estate, where there is great food, lots of space and a solid wine selection. If it’s just my partner and I, we love going to Jayden Ong Cellar Bar + Winery.  It’s a hidden gem in the Yarra Valley with fabulous food and Jayden’s wines are outstanding.


We’re planning on a trip to the Netherlands this year. Back to my partner’s homeland, and the first time with our kids, to meet the long-lost cousins.  We are looking forward to eating and drinking our way around the region.



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