I worked as an apprentice at various restaurants around Victoria before qualifying as a chef at Va Tutto in Ivanhoe. Following that, I worked and travelled around Europe for three years, doing stints at In de Wulf in Belgium, Relae in Copenhagen, and The Fat Duck in Bray, among others. Now I’m back in Melbourne and after creating wandering food events company Them Bones — specialising in pop-up tasting menus — I have opened a café/ bar in Eltham. I continue to cater and host Them Bones events around Victoria, with a hope to travel further in 2015.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
I used to want to be a graphic designer…I don’t know why, but from a really young age I wanted to have a bar. I didn’t realise that I wanted to be a chef until I worked in hospitality after finishing school and realised that it was also a creative field.
How would you define your style?
For Them Bones, it’s Modern European, but I avoid any specific cultural influence. The aim is to cook with exciting ingredients and apply varied and unique techniques. At Little Drop of Poison, we serve familiar, comforting café and bar food with surprising twists, like our take on the breakfast sandwich, the McPoison. It’s Melbourne café fare with a fine dining mindset.
What is your feature flavour these days?
Funky comes to mind, but it’s more delicious than that sounds! We’re featuring lots of funky wines at Little Drop of Poison and interesting beers.
Obsessive compulsive about?
Height! I hate it when things fall flat on a plate.
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
Kobe Desramaults of In de Wulf. The months I spent there working side by side with him in the middle of nowhere in Belgium will impact my style forever. He has this badass approach to service and a quick thinking energy about him. Heston, of course. “Question everything”…that says it all for me.
What do you love about this business?
I like the characters I’ve met along the way. This industry is such an eclectic bunch. I love the creativity and the fact you get to play with all the senses.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?
Probably the coffee-cured salmon. That’s raised a few eyebrows.
I think I change things too often to have a signature dish. At Little Drop of Poison, the customers would probably say our pumpkin cakes with cream cheese icing and pumpkin seed praline. We bake them in hemisphere moulds and put the icing down the middle so you get a little bit of everything in each bite. For Them Bones dinners I always start with a mock carrot: a cone shaped cracker made from carrot juice, topped with a disc of pickled carrot. It’s filled with a yoghurt and leftover pickling liquid mixture.
Little Drop of Poison brings inner-city Melbourne chic to the leafy streets of Eltham. Gorgeous timber furnishings and bright airy sunlit windows create a warm and homely atmosphere, making the café the perfect place to relax with a freshly brewed coffee and a selection of beautiful food inspired by chef and owner Kobi Ruzicka’s travels. Dishes such as the coffee cured salmon served with crème fraiche are minimalist Scandi-inspired, while the roast carrot with light whipped ricotta, pumpkin seed pesto and spinach is on-trend and packed with moreish flavours, as is the chicken with walnut, date mayo, celery and radicchio. Other options may present ox tongue croquet with mustard and leek bechamel, but don’t forget to take home a highly addictive pumpkin cake with pumpkin seed praline.