Photos by Nikki To
Maurice Terzini of Icebergs fame (among other popular eating and drinking establishments) is launching an Icebergs pop-up at this year’s Splendour.
We thought it might be interesting if we paired him up with Splendour co-founder Jessica Ducrou for an interview revolving around food, music and art. Jessica had the question cards, Maurice was in the hot seat. Here’s what happened.
Maurice, I was excited about working with you because both of us have an interest in the intersection of food, music and art. For me, that’s my fuel, my energy, why I get up every day.
For us too. It’s what drives our businesses. One of the first things we look at when we put a concept together is music, even before we start writing menus.
So, food, music or art, what is your number one passion?
I don’t think I could put one in front of the other, you know? I think they all work together. Some of our gigs are more driven by the arts. For example, we’re opening a wine room and small gallery–our third gallery–and Anthony Lister is painting it as we speak. So, they kind of all go hand in hand for me. I think food anchors them all, but they all go hand in hand.
I can’t choose what’s the most important, either. I mean, music anchors my industry, or what I do, but it doesn’t necessarily take precedent over art or food either. Next question: apart from your own restaurants and bars, where do you like to eat in Sydney?
Well, I’m sort of conservative when it comes to eating out. I spend a lot of time at my own gigs. Now that we’ve got multiple gigs, I always try to make sure I always eat at least one of them one night a week, so by the time I get around to Icebergs and The Dolphin, it doesn’t leave me much time. However, being a classic Italian, Italian always comes first. So obviously, Fratelli Paradiso; it’s my best friend’s restaurant, so it’s like you’re at home. 10 William Street, of course, which is great. Now that we’ve got the kids, we go to the Apollo quite often. In Melbourne, Di Stasio is my absolute favourite. And also places like France Soir in Toorak. They’re the kinds of places I tend to eat out; I want to go places where I can have conversation – I can talk and have a bottle of wine, and the food quality is a given. And then my other favourite one when I’m in Melbourne is Flower Drum.
What’s the best restaurant you’ve experienced around the world?
Well, I’ll tell you where I went that was absolutely fantastic– and it wasn’t necessarily the meal, it was just the experience – I had lunch at The Grill in New York recently. It’s at the Four Seasons and has the most incredible art collection; the room is one of the most incredible rooms in the world. Just classic New York, very formal, but sort of like Flower Drum: very front of house driven. For a restauranteur, and for someone whose worked front of house his whole life, it’s sort of up there with the gods. It was absolutely fantastic.
If you had a dream dinner companion, who would it be?
Rowland S. Howard!
Rowland S. Howard?
Yes! I’d love to have dinner with him. He’d have dinner at my gigs, but I never got an opportunity to have dinner with him. He’s my absolute muse.
And what is your preferred drink?
They sort of change all the time, but at the moment I’m really into gimlets. Obviously having Goldy Gin, I’m big ambassador for gin, and there’s nothing like a little bit of gin and lime, pretty simple, just shaken.
And what do you think of the whole temperance movement? I’ve just done thirty days off booze, what do you think about it?
It’s quite interesting. We’ve been serving low alcohol drinks now all my career. Spritzes have been with me for thirty years, Campari and sodas have been with me since I started my career, so, as an Italian, I think we’ve always felt a moderate drink is better. Drink smarter and drink less.
Right. I’ve been thinking about how younger people are choosing not to drink, and not because it’s a massive choice, but because they’re just growing up in a different culture. They’re definitely drinking less.
We’ve been ambassadors for it; we’ve introduced it into our wine lists, like, gone are the days of the big shiraz. Sitting down and fucking drinking Penfolds Grange for six hours and feeling fucking sick afterwards. It’s all about unwooded, straight from the vat, 11%, beautiful, fresh chilled reds, you know? People are drinking smarter, and people are drinking better, which is great for our industry, because that’s what our industry is all about.
Where do you think you’ll spend most of your time at Splendour?
The first day definitely in the tent, in the restaurant, and get that going, and definitely between eleven and two in the morning I’ll be in the bar. I really want to be hosting the bar. I’m really attached to it; I think it’s going to be a really kooky little environment. The restaurant is fairly standard in terms of how people will react and what we’ll deliver, but the bar will have a life of its own, and I really want to see how that works. Especially the curation of the music: lots of jazz, which I think will be really interesting in the middle of a big festival.
Last question: favourite festival in the world?
You’re going to laugh at this… I don’t go to festivals. I’ve been to maybe half a dozen festivals in my life. I don’t really do it, but I think I’ll fit right in at Splendour this year.
You 100% will my friend. I’m so excited!
Me too, Jess!