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Bringing bayside flavour to the village

By Kate Lockyer

Having spent a childhood by the bay, fishing and learning to cook from his Greek grandmother, a James St café owner has just opened New Farm Seafood, a restaurant and fresh fish market.

Michael Hatzifotis said the shop in Merthyr Village was an opportunity he took on prompted by his childhood and family connections to seafood.

“My grandfather was in fish all his life, and when my dad moved to Australia, he worked in fish markets with a couple of his mates who he came to Australia with,” he said.

“I’ve grown up down by the bay, so every weekend we were out fishing, crabbing, cooking on the beach.”

Mr Hatzifotis has run Cantinho on James Street for about 10 years, with a Greek-style menu inspired by his family heritage. 

“I’ve always had a passion for cooking, being brought up in the bay by my grandparents, while my parents worked seven days a week, my grandmother taught me how to cook,” he said.

“From that, I developed an affinity for cooking – because takeaway wasn’t an option when we were kids, it was made by hand.”

After opening Cantinho, Mr Hatzifotis’ affinity for cooking led him to start a catering business, and he then went on to be invited as a guest chef at several restaurants, in particular Moda Tapas Brasa Bar, owned by renowned Spanish chef Javier Codina, who he credits as a mentor. 

He said his new seafood menu is still very Greek inspired.

It combines classic fish and chip items alongside à la carte meals “with a twist of Greece to it”, and he has kept a few red meat options as well, including his famous Greek lamb shoulder.

Mr Hatzifotis said his favourite seafood dish is grilled scampi, which they will be doing as a special when scampi is in season and available.

He said the concept of the shop grew from a basic fish and chip shop to a fully licensed restaurant and fresh seafood market, with support from the Merthyr Village centre management.

Something that makes the shop a standout is that the seafood is brought in whole and fresh every morning, to be filleted by their team. 

Almost everything at New Farm Seafood is sourced in Australia and New Zealand by Pascal Rizk, who has spent about 20 years in the seafood industry.

Mr Hatzifotis said the majority of their fish is wild caught, either line caught or coming from trawlers off the southeast coast up to Fraser Island, as well as from other local suppliers.  

In the kitchen, Head Chef Josh Schepis has 20 years’ experience as a chef, having spent 13 years at Moda Tapas, and ensures the food is made with care.

All their sauces, from tartare to purees and dessert coulis, are house made by Mr Schepis and his team.

Since opening in December, the restaurant has been booked out, so if you want to dine in, make a booking by calling (07) 3358 1676.

The fresh market is open 8am – 9pm and the restaurant is open 11am – 9pm Tuesday – Sunday.

www.newfarmseafood.com.au.

Photo captions:

1. Michael Hatzifotis and Pascal Rizk

2. If you would like something not in stock at the market, the team are happy to take special orders

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