Co-founder of Pizza e Mozzarella Bar and Chicken & Pig, chef and family man Tom Bubner also launched the Lot 100 kitchen alongside Shannon Fleming. If Tom’s not in front of the wood oven, you might find him out in the kitchen garden.
Three minutes with Tom Bubner
BEN There seems to be very little information about on you online. Are you a secret agent?
TOM Haha, no, just busy with running the kitchen at Lot 100, organising our restaurants in the city, and balancing all of that with family life.
BEN Tell us a bit about yourself?
TOM I grew up in the Mid North and then came to Adelaide, where I boarded for secondary school. Since then, I’ve been happily settled in the Hills, where we are lucky to have three amazing children. We are really grateful to live in the Hills with such a supportive community and beautiful natural environment.
BEN What inspired you to become a chef?
TOM I knew I wanted to be a chef from a young age and I’ve never considered a different career. I’ve always loved preparing food to be enjoyed by others and the buzz of a kitchen, particularly during a busy service. I was fortunate to complete my apprenticeship at Rigoni’s Bistro which strengthened my love for Italian food and gave me the discipline and skills required as the foundation of my career.
BEN Did you once work in the kitchen of a childcare centre?
TOM Yes, I moved into this role when my first child was born and it allowed me more flexibility to be with my new family and gave me the opportunity to explore what I wanted to do next.
BEN What are your tips for cooking for children?
TOM Get them involved in food preparation. If they are helping, they are more likely to enjoy what is cooked. Perhaps set up a veggie patch so they know where their food comes from. Similarly, take them to various markets, cafes and restaurants so they experience a wide variety of foods. Try cooking new dishes and don’t shy away from bold flavours.
BEN How do you balance family life with a career in hospitality?
TOM Balance is challenging in this industry. I frequently work weekends and nights, and juggle the needs of three kitchens (with the support of business partners and kitchen crew) so there is always plenty to be done. As a family, we have found ways of making the most of quality time, like trips away – usually in winter – and treasured family days. I’m lucky that my family is very supportive of what I do and the kids enjoy being a part of it too.
BEN What advice would you give any of your children if they followed in your footsteps?
TOM Go for it, if it’s your passion, but be prepared to work hard and miss out on a lot of social events. There are so many rewarding aspects to being in hospitality and I have tried to instil a love of good food in our children from an early age. When it comes down to it if you love what you do, you’ll make it work.
BEN What is your favourite dish to cook for family dinner?
TOM It’s funny because my children still get so excited about pizza and they all have their favourite combinations. I’ve taught them how to properly hand-stretch a pizza dough, so they are happy to join in. Any slow-cooked meat or meatballs are also a winner. The kids also love collecting whatever ingredients we have in the garden, including eggs, herbs or vegetables to use in our cooking. I am currently building a wood oven at home so I am looking forward to firing that up with the family.
BEN An experience that changed your life?
TOM Travel is something we value. Prior to children, we were lucky enough to enjoy a round-the-world trip, taking in many countries. A recent road trip to Uluru with the family was a cultural experience that will stay with us forever. Spending a month travelling around Tasmania was also amazing for the family, particularly with the local food we were fortunate enough to sample along the way.
BEN Your idea of a perfect day off?
TOM A family outing in winter, perhaps to the Willunga Farmers Market, followed by a wander through Kuitpo forest looking for mushrooms. Then home to a cosy fire, board games with the kids, and a delicious home-cooked meal.
This article first appeared in the April 2022 issue of SALIFE magazine.
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