Meet Our Chef
Melbourne born and bred Paul Turner is the new Executive Chef at La Madonna Restaurant & Bar, the sumptuously understated dining and drinking enclave nestled within Next Hotel Melbourne at the couture end of the CBD.
With a pedigree honed at Melbourne dining institution Donovan’s to Head Chef roles at Cutler & Co, Lover and most recently Mis en Par, Turner’s set to continue shaking up the typical hotel restaurant and bar.
“I’m both humbled and excited to take the reins at La Madonna – it’s such an inspiring backdrop to provide generous hospitality to diners from near and far with a special DNA to develop further,” says Turner.
La Madonna first opened in 2021 as both venue and expression encompassing a bar and restaurant plus a unique Barrel Room for barrel ageing cocktails and spirits – and a distinct Milan-meets-Beijing menu that set tongues wagging in Melbourne’s dining scene, including being awarded Best Deluxe Hotel Restaurant and a Chef’s Hat.
Turner’s first menu builds on the style, deftly combining comforting and challenging dishes inspired by season’s best produce, sustainable and no-waste ingredients and the use of dry ageing and pickling – all presented with creativity and relaxed finesse.
There’ll be spontaneity with Turner at the pass, but some starters such as Stracciatella, pepperonata, honey and spent focaccia; a Hiramasa kingfish with spring onion, ginger and sour apple or a Wagyu bresaola with romesco, pickled zucchini and togarashi will be a mainstay over the warmer months. An effortless mix of Italian and Asian technique and ingredients also extends to pan-fried gnocchi with kimchi, broccoli and fresh curds and John Dory fillet with braised cos, seaweed and mousseline. Regular diners will also delight in seeing La Madonna’s dry aged duck dish remaining on the menu, though with Turner’s own twist. Now a crown is hung for 14 days, glazed in Aperol and served with a garnish of the day.
An edit of snacks and small bites continues too, while Turner has introduced a line up of elegant bijoux sized desserts designed to savour in the surrounds of La Madonna’s stylish bar – preferably with one of the signature barrel-aged cocktails close at hand.
“I love how people enjoy being in this place. It’s both special and relaxed – they can start at the bar, move to a table and then return to lounge in the bar, have a plate of something familiar, another that’s a bit unexpected and then a different experience again next time – and that’s so important when you’re creating a dining experience for locals and hotel guests alike,” adds Turner.