Just a couple of cruisy Perth boys. Sandro with an Italian heritage and Tristan with a Yank heritage.
Collectively Tristan and I have worked at some of Perth’s well-known establishments, some were iconic and sadly some came to the end of an era, like the former Star Anise. Others are ll Lido Canteen, Balthazar, John Street Café, Rochelle Adonis Cakes and Confections, Lamonts & Oriel.
What got us to where we are now is taboo in the current industry, but it was considered the norm back when we were training. In a way, we are thankful to them, for shaping us and giving us the drive to be who we are and that is, a couple of humble solid chefs doing our best to handle our produce the right way with integrity, open and honest communications and leading with compassion when it comes to the greater team.
We can tell you now it takes a lot more than love and passion to stay and make a living in this industry and trust us, we have been in it for over 20 years.
Have you always wanted to be Chefs?
It all started with FOH for Tristan to begin with, but he was a gluten for punishment and tipped over into the dark side of BOH. As for me, I wanted to be a flight attendant but Mum put the fear of God into me, I was 10 at the time, I knew from then as my sister was 20 and I was cooking better than her as a kid, so I kind of knew from then.
It wasn’t until year 10 when I did my first Home Economics class with Mrs Roseanna Donaldson. We made Nasi Goreng, last period and as most teenage boys are, I was ravenous after school… As I was devouring it, a cardamom seed crushed in my mouth and I was like, what is this? Being a good little Italian boy from immigrant parents, all I ever ate was pasta! That day set the course for the rest of my life.
How would you define your styles?
We don’t have a style, the food we create is what it is, we all think of Social Manna as a personality and cook food that suits the space, as a team we all have a say and input in the menu. Many hands make our space, but many hearts make our menu.
What is your feature flavour these days?
Ohhh this is a good one, just like "sand through the hourglass, so are the seasons of a Chef” (now queue the Days of our Lives theme intro). We currently have a peach/blueberry/rosemary combo, a strawberry/lychee/damask rose and mango/buckwheat/cocoa nib number. We head into the savoury side of things with wild mushrooms/vanilla/cinnamon with our Beef Croquette dish and an umami orgasm of a flavour bomb in our Birds of Tokyo dish.
Tristan is, as the millennials would say, "OBSESSED” with "tetrising” the dry stores, I tell you, square containers with round tins is a constant mental struggle worthy of a Xanax. As for me, it’s clutter, I will stop service if there is too much clutter, just can’t deal!
Your greatest culinary influences:
For Tristan it was one man, Iain Lawless, for me it’s as long as an Instagram influencers’ hashtag list, however, for the purpose of the question the most notable are my Mum, John Earnshaw and Big Bags Byron, Roseanne Donaldson, David Coomer, Russell Blaikie and lastly Rochelle Adonis.
What do you love about this business?
It’s as simple as the Manna we provide. Be it through food, interaction with our team, or the gain and insight received through conversation in that moment of your day with the person you’re with.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Old mate Tristan says salt and pepper.
I love MSG (natural), and it’s all a myth peeps what you know about it… do your research. You wouldn’t believe all the natural foods we eat that have a high amount of glutamate in them like tomatoes, grapes, cheese and mushrooms to name a few.
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
The newest member to hit the menu, the fab as f#@% Waffle Doughnuts with grilled peach, blueberry and rosemary, baked cheesecake whip and an Arnott’s Biscuit granola crumble, boom, you’re welcome!
Egg Benny Bao Wow! She’s a beauty this one: 8-hour braised pork belly in master stock, all made crispy in the fryer with lashings of aromatic Szechwan salt, then we add the son-in-law egg, steamed bao bun adorned with a herbaceous mint, coriander and pickle salad, finally, we add lashings of XO hollandaise, that’s right, you read correctly XO… in hollandaise.