The Kitchen Door at Penny's Hill
(halfway between McLaren Vale & Willunga)
McLaren Vale SA 5171
Growing up in an Italian Household and spending most of his spare time in the kitchen with Nonna, Ben knew at an early age that he wanted to be a chef.
Ben left school, aged 15, and started an apprenticeship in 1987. He spent three years at the Manhattan Bistro and finished an apprenticeship at Pagliacio, Rundle Street, cooking classic Italian. Ben then went to Darwin for four years and immersed himself in Native Australian food, then onto Sydney where he spent four years at Jonahs, Palm Beach cooking Provincial French Cuisine.
Ben came home to Adelaide and opened Eccolo Ristorante, Grote Street in 1999 serving Modern Italian. After a wonderful hiatus in McLaren Vale for one year in 2002 at d’Arry’s Verandah with Peter Hogg he moved back to the city to Berjerac at the Botanic Hotel. Both restaurants, Eccolo and Berjerac folded in classic Adelaide Style.
Ben got married and had two children during his 9 to 5, Monday to Friday situation at Café Tempo in the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra building Hindley Street.
Having fond memories of McLaren Vale (his wife was at the Salopian Inn restaurant and d’Arry’s Verandah), they decided that moving the family down south before the boys started school was wise as he knew they would eventually open their own restaurant in the area.
‘The Kitchen Door’ at Penny’s Hill & Mr. Riggs Cellars has given Ben new inspiration. To work again with such great people, produce and wine. That’s what it’s all about.