After a global search, celebrated Italian flavour maker and fine dining specialist Massimo Speroni has been appointed Head Chef at Rydges South Bank Brisbane’s restaurant, Bacchus.

Speroni joins the Bacchus team direct from the 2 Michelin-starred restaurant San Domenico in Imola, Italy where he was Sous Chef, working with owner-chef Valentino Marcattilii. He also worked with Chef Marcattilii in his formative years as a Chef de Partie and Junior Sous, and credits the famed Italian chef for much of his flavour preferences now.

He brings with him star-studded experience – having worked at the 1 Michelin-starred restaurant Café le Paillotes in Pescara, under Chef Consultant the acclaimed Heinz Beck from the 3 Michelin-starred La Pergola. At the opening of the five star Romeo Hotel in Naples he worked under Chef Andrea Aprea and for the high summer season of 2014, he was Head Chef at the Hotel Monte Del Re’s fine dining restaurant.

No stranger to Brisbane and Australia, Massimo worked with the kitchen team at Sydney’s famed Steele Bar & Grill before being appointed Senior Sous Chef for the opening of Pony Lounge Restaurant in Sydney. He was then selected on the opening team for Pony Dining Brisbane. Thirty-two year old Speroni said since his time working in Australia from 2012 to 2014, where he fell in love with the country, and particularly South East Queensland, he had been looking for an exciting culinary opportunity to bring him back; the offer to take the lead at one of Brisbane’s leading fine dining restaurants was exactly the position he was waiting for.

On Saturday evening, and under the baton of Chef Speroni, the Bacchus kitchen team opened for the 2017 year, delivering a new menu created by him. While the essence of the Bacchus dining experience will remain the same – focusing on inspired modern Australian flavours and dishes – the new menu celebrates foods through Chef Speroni’s lens, one which leans towards fresh, clean and light classically created dishes.

His passion for fine dining began at an early age. Born in the Abruzzo region of Italy, slightly east of Rome, in the small town of Roseto near the Adriatic sea, Massimo was influenced by flavours championed by his mother who originated from the north of the country, and from throughout the central region, around Rome, where they lived.

As a teenager he worked alongside local chef Marino De Colli, who would become his mentor and teach him the difference between trattoria and fine dining. It was this difference that set Massimo on his path to specialize in fine dining cooking.

However, his culinary career almost never happened; from six years of age Massimo played water polo, and when he turned 18 and on the cusp of turning professional in the sport, he was forced to choose between careers – thankfully, he chose food. From this point he moved to Rome to work in De Russie restaurant, and then traveled throughout the regions of Italy learning his craft, embracing technique and flavours differences. He then moved to the UK to continue this journey before returning to Italy, and onwards on his journey until he landed this January in Brisbane, and at Bacchus.

Chef Speroni takes up the Bacchus culinary journey where previous Head Chef Mark Penna left off. The restaurant is lauded as one of the city’s leading fine dining experiences, with a mantelpiece of awards across food, service and wine testament to this. The most recent title was just recently, a Best Award of Excellence (2-Glass Rating) in the 2016 Wine Spectator Restaurant Wine List Awards, presented by Wine Spectator – the world’s leading authority on wine. Bacchus is the only restaurant from Queensland included in the awards and it is the fourth year the restaurant has been honoured.

Curated by Head Sommelier Andrew Giblin, the Bacchus wine selection features a world-class list of over 200 offerings. Chef Speroni said he was looking forward to working with Giblin and the entire team, to flavour enhance and match.

Bacchus is at home in Rydges South Bank, a hotel that this year celebrates 20 years of visionary operation, a beacon of excellence immersed in the heart of Brisbane. A rich chestnut and candlelit interior and throws of deep mahogany and marble create a luxurious welcome at Bacchus, designed by LA-based interiors sensation, Tracy Beckmann. Detailed service and a very genuine love of food and wine are the drivers of this restaurant which boasts a series of Degustation options, as well as an a la carte menu of signature cuts and flavours. Bacchus is also the home of Dom Pérignon in Queensland, the first and only in Queensland and one of only three venues in Australia.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management