The Hobart

Local Lad: Matt Breen

by Stephanie Williams
Local Lad: Matt Breen

Chef Matt Breen has weathered the Covid storm and is now looking at his next phase as fatherhood approaches.

What’s the best thing about Hobart? It’s close proximity to all things wild and new – kunanyi, beaches, the waterfront and some of the best eateries in Australia.

And the worst? The cold. Even though I’ve grown up here, I still haven’t seemed to adjust to it.

Tell us a little about your work? Currently, I am the owner and chef of a little wine bar called Sonny in Elizabeth St. We’re an intimate 20 seater bar with a great wine list curated by Al Robertson, paired with bar snacks that are on an ever-rotating menu. It’s a fun, vibrant space where we spin vinyl, cook deli­cious bites and have a bit of a house party every night.

Readers may not know that you aren’t connected with Templo anymore. How did it feel to let it go, and what does your work life look like now? It’s been a year and a half since I hung up my apron at Templo. I think the move to focusing just on Sonny was a smart one. It had been a long and successful three years since opening Templo and I felt that I had done what I had set out to do there. Although it was sad to let go, I was ready for a change and felt that Sonny was a step in the right direction – another challenge and another four walls to play in. Life is pretty similar really but I feel that I have a little more flexibility with our menu and dining style at Sonny. No bookings and no set menus. It’s an exciting change of pace.

Where do you think the Hobart food scene is at and where do you think (and hope!) it’s going? I think the Hobart dining scene is thriving at the moment. It seems that it’s the place to be (again). I hope that we keep pushing forward and more quality restaurants keep opening. Most chefs and restaurant owners I talk with speak of huge wait lists each night of the week so there’s plenty of room for more venues to open. I would also like to see more small scale farms get up and running so that we can all keep using the amazing produce that is right here on our doorstep.

How has the COVID year or so been for you? What do you think the future of hospitality holds? Although it was a very hard year for most, I found that the break was good. It gave me a chance to fully switch off for six weeks while we closed before re-opening with limited dining. It has reminded me what is important in life and that balance is crucial to a healthy lifestyle.

You’re about to become a dad – congratulations – how will the juggle look for you? I’m so excited and proud to become a Dad. My partner, Monique, means the world to me and to think we’re going to raise a little baby girl together makes me overwhelmed with joy. I’m starting to put some systems in place at Sonny so that I can take a step back for a while and focus on our family.

What’s your dream project to work on? I love tinkering on my 1850’s cottage in West Hobart. I’d love to one day buy a country cottage in Kettering and renovate it. It would be great to have a large garden and a cooking school for kids.

Where’s your favourite Hobart eatery? I can’t go past a Sunday long lunch at Fico. Freddy, Oskar and the team have constantly been pushing and achieving their goals, year after year. It’s one of the best dining experiences in Australia in my opinion.

Drink of choice and where do you head for it? A Boags XXX in front of the fire at the New Sydney.

Guilty pleasure? Bueno chocolates – I’ve been eating way too many lately.

What do you never leave home without? Underpants.

I’d like to travel to…Arnhem Land and The Bungle Bungles.

If I didn’t live in Hobart I’d live…Brunswick Heads or Sicily – probably Sicily if I had the choice though.

When there’s nothing to do, I…Shred Van Halen solos on the guitar.

Favourite Hobart secret? Savoy Baths. Nothing better than a steam and sauna after a long week.

Where to next? Hopefully a few months after Monique and I have our baby, we might look at buying an old coaster mini bus and drive to Western Australia…who knows what the future holds.

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June 2024

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