Florian has quickly cemented itself as one of Melbourne’s most beloved eateries. Run by childhood friends, each of whose inherent sense of style has infused the space with abundant charm.
There’s a familial energy as staff duck in and out of the kitchen, giggling & throwing compliments. The kind of atmosphere in which you’d like to linger.
Below, Dom and Rose chat Florian's beginnings, tethered to their long standing friendship, fairytale like memories of their shared childhood, travel's influence on their cuisine & what is next in store for their neighbourly space.
Dom & Rose - How did you meet and when did you begin to share dreams of opening an eatery together?
We met in Primary School and quickly became close friends. Rose moved to another school but somehow, we stayed in touch, even as 6-year-olds! We've been friends ever since; working, travelling, cooking and creating together.
Can you share some of your formative memories around preparing food?
Both of our mums have been a huge inspiration. They are both extremely stylish and amazing cooks. Dom's mum is a chef and both of us grew up working in her cafes and bakeries. We used to run a stall at the Yarraville festival selling biscuits she'd made. This was an upgrade from our mud pie stall at primary school where kids would buy the mud slabs using a bartering system. Roses parents had an incredible greek inspired garden in her childhood home where we spent hours pretending to host our many guests, setting tables with flowers in old olive oil tins and lighting candles. All of these memories are very formative and have led to a lifelong friendship that really is the foundation of Florian.
What did early visions for Florian look and sound like? What kind of atmosphere were you hoping to build?
We wanted Florian to look like it had existed for a long time, something warm and homey, not sterile or cold. We knew our style could mix our love of found and new items such as our plates, vases and artwork on the walls. We loved the levels the old terrace building brought that can separate the cafe into rooms and create a unique buzz in each one. The bar was a really important element and gives a focal point to the entrance where people can sit and have a coffee and pastry and just enjoy the buzz.
Florian's evolving menu celebrates the transience of seasonal produce, can you highlight the importance and perhaps some of the challenges of working with in season produce?
Generally it's a really nice part of creating a menu, chatting to suppliers about what's nice and going to the market and getting excited by what can be found in abundance at a certain time. More and more the challenges are in quality, variety and quantity as the effects of climate change sink in. The recent floods have effected this terribly. As much as this is a challenge it also forces us to be more creative and think on the job if something suddenly becomes unavailable.
How have some of your recent travels inspired your cooking?
We recently travelled to Turkey, France, Greece, Italy, Georgia and Bali collectively. Being able to travel after years of lockdowns was exciting and of course we ate lots! Rose came back raving about a comte, celery and vinegar salad in Italy, and her beautiful lunch at the already renowned Le Doyenne. Dom came back having tried Georgian food for the first time, blown away by all the flavours and their use of ingredients from just about anywhere they could forage, or the best and spiciest suckling pig with sambal. We could go on!
Are there any rituals or habits you each practice that help fuel you?
Definitely a lot of home cooked meals. Sharing this with friends and family is always a good way to recharge and get some perspective when work can feel all consuming. We also do a lot of long walks and talks together which can help sooth problems encountered that week.
Upon each visit I am struck by how beautifully yourselves and your staff are dressed. I loved overhearing you compliment your barista on his outfit, to which he admitted that 'wearing a white shirt was dangerous behind the coffee machine' (the kind of danger I admire).
In an industry that might tend to favour pragmatism or 'clothing that can get dirty', what is your approach to dressing for work?
We've always loved fashion and I suppose with Florian we also wanted it to have style. We put a lot of effort into the way Florian looks and that seems to draw a certain type of person to want to work with us, who want to come to work and feel nice by dressing up a little. White shirts are always dangerous at work but oh well, do you remember the splash of coffee you got on it or the compliments you were given that made you feel great, at the end of the day?