Calia in Emporium Melbourne is the epitome of the recently-coined hybrid, the ‘grocerant’. We, the consuming masses, love having others cook for us, but we don’t want to let go of the possibility of shopping at the grocery store or the notion that we could do it ourselves had we the appropriate produce and a little bit of advice.
Enter Calia. With a menu designed by Michelin starred Chilean chef, Francisco Araya, Calia is a first of its kind in Australia restaurant-to-retail concept: an interactive marketplace, if you will.
On launch night, we were treated to little tasters of Francisco’s Japanese twist on local and international delicacies. Think deep-fried Mexican sushi, morsels of seared Robbins Island wagyu beef, sashimi, and a sculptural installation of Bibelot chocolates and desserts.
Francisco himself had been flown in for the event. As the 100 or so food writers and influencers enjoyed sake from the barrel and jamon sliced off the bone, Instagramming shelves featuring birds nests from China and caviar from Latvia, he was able to explain the concept of being able to eat in the restaurant and then buy the products used in the retail store next door.
With plans for recipe cards, interactive cooking lessons and pop-up master classes by Francisco, Calia is a multi-faceted experience for the avid foodies amongst us and I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more about it now the doors are open to the public.
Jo Rittey is a freelance writer who wants to live in a world where apostrophes are used correctly and smiles are genuine. When she’s not roaming the streets of the northside in search of great food, she likes getting lost in beautiful films and having wildly enthusiastic discussions with her friends.