Sappho Hatzis – Our Beautiful Aussie Chef

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with our talented and beautiful chef, Sappho Hatzis at Bluestone Lane Collective Cafe. Over a flat white and a raspberry friand, I asked Sappho about what Aussie foods inspired her when developing Bluestone Lane’s menu, what are her influences as a chef and her favourite Melbourne cafes. You can also check out the new Collective Cafe menu designed by, Sappho.

How did you find your way into the hospitality and cafe industry?

I started working with Peter Rowland Catering back in Melbourne as a part time job when I was 16. It was by chance and I never realised when I started that it would pave the way for my future. I stayed with them for 7 years- it was a fantastic job and gave me such good grounding for things that followed. Many principles I learnt at PRC from great mentors I still put into practice today.

How did you become involved with Bluestone Lane?

I have always been interested in food but the last few years I have used my Instagram account as a means of fueling my passion. Aside from keeping me inspired and motivated, what started purely as a creative outlet and a means of keeping track of and collating my food ideas and experiments, eventually led to my involvement with Bluestone Lane. My school friend, Nick, was interested in what I was doing and asked me to be involved with the menu for BSL.

Where did the inspiration for the Bluestone Lane Collective Menu come from?

My inspiration has come from a few places. I’m continually inspired by the never-ending stream of new cafes opening in my hometown. The menu’s are consistently so innovative, fresh and of such a high standard. I’m forever inspired by the world of Instagrammers. Seeing people doing new things and experimenting with different ingredients gets me so excited. My family is also a huge inspiration, and has always had a simple, wholesome approach to eating and sharing meals, which really is my base when it comes to food. We still come together often for a meal and I’m always swooning over either my parents amazing simple dishes. We are known for our big Greek Easter barbecues with a fantastic spread of beautiful fresh food, and a few of my mum & brothers recipes have made their way to the menu!

Table full of food including a grain salad, spicy chicken, and roasted brussel sprouts.
Grain salad, spicy chipotle chicken, roast brussel sprouts w cotija & cayenne, roast tri colour cauliflower w barberries & almonds

What are your favorite dishes to cook and which ones to eat? 

Breakfast truly is my favorite meal of the day and I can’t go without it. I’m more than willing to for go 20 minutes of extra sleep to get up and prepare any breakfast dish, sweet or savoury. In the winter I love experimenting with cooked porridge combinations and flavours, vegetable & bone broths, or eggs with veggies. Summer calls for cool chia pudding or quinoa porridge with cashew cream or satisfying smoothies. I love challenging myself to make healthy taste amazing.

What has been your initial impression on the NY coffee/cafe scene?

A lot has changed since I was last here 3 years ago, with so many new places springing up. I am still surprised though by how far ahead we are in Australia, and equally pleased to see NYC catching up!

aerial view of the pistachio apricot and cardamom cake.
Pistachio, apricot & cardamom cake w pistachio cream & Van Leeuwen vanilla ice cream.. yum!

Where do you think the NY coffee/cafe scene will be in 5 years time?

I’m pretty sure the momentum has started here in NYC and the city is definitely diversifying and improving its coffee and café culture. I think in 5 years time you wont have to travel far at all for an amazing brekky and knock out coffee.

What are your favorite cafes/restaurants in Melbourne and why?

So many! I would say my all time favorite breakfast spot is The Premises in Kensington- I’m always impressed by their consistently outstanding food, coffee & service. Some of my other favorites that never disappoint and have a great atmosphere include- Mixed Business in Clifton Hill, Tall Timber in South Yarra, Code Black in Brunswick, Ora in Kew- and I am super excited for Gridlock Coffee’s new café/ espresso bar opening in their Heidelberg roastery later this year.

Shoku Iku in Westgarth do an amazing raw menu, and at the other end of the spectrum my absolute favorite for homemade pasta, pizza, and the very best tiramisu in Melbourne is Kaprica in Carlton, which is a bit of a hidden gem.

What are your favorite cafes/restaurants in NY and why?

I love Little Collins in Midtown, and have probably eaten way too many of their sage omelet sandwiches since being here! I think its safe to say I’m addicted. I love ABC Kitchen for lunch or dinner, always so fresh and delicious and the service is great. I recently ate at Pure Food & Wine and I was so impressed with the food, as well the gorgeous back courtyard space was a beautiful place to be on a NYC summers evening. I’m not ashamed to say that sometimes you just cant beat eating a Shake Shack in Madison square park…Oh and not to mention my love for a Magic and Quinoa porridge at BSL in the west village!

And I still have a huge list of places I’m yet to try!