The Old Saltbush is undeniably the premier restaurant in Broken Hill. Managed by homegrown chef Lee Cecchin, the Old Saltbush boasts a menu that spotlights the finest bush-inspired cuisine and local ingredients, changing seasonally.
This coming weekend, Ms Cecchin will travel to Brisbane for the La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Bailliage de Brisbane event. There, she will serve a bespoke five-course Australian Indigenous Flavours Lunch, paired with Australian wines, at the Kite Terrace Rooftop Restaurant in the Thomas Dixon Centre on Sunday, October 29.
Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is an association aiming to unite amateurs and professionals from around the globe, including hoteliers, restaurateurs, executive chefs, and sommeliers, in the appreciation of fine cuisine.
Always eager to showcase what Broken Hill has to offer, Chef Cecchin seized this opportunity as soon as it arose.
“I am very passionate about showcasing what we do here in Broken Hill, and I have been for more than 40 years now,” Ms Cecchin told the Barrier Truth.
“I have created a menu that has some local components that we already use at the restaurant. The menu will have bush flavour and influence. And we will be taking our Saltbush Gin to Brisbane as well which is made in partnership with the Broken Hill Distillery at the Tydvil Hotel.”
The local connection is something that is important to Ms Cecchin. Along with taking the Saltbush Gin that is distilled locally, she will also be taking bread from the Sufi Bakery.
“It’s about building our pie in the community and making sure everyone is a part of the journey. I am a firm believer in supporting local business and showcasing not only what we do here at the Old Saltbush, but all the fantastic things we have here in Broken Hill.
“I am proud of what I do, and especially where I come from – and I want the rest of Australia, and the world to see that as well.”
Chef Cecchin has been immersed in her career as a chef since she was 17 years old. She did some training in Broken Hill through Tafe and left to do her apprenticeship in Alice Springs about 12 months later. Following that she traversed around the world working in top restaurants in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific returning to Australia and working in Adelaide, before coming home to Broken Hill to “slow down.”
“I haven’t got the memo yet,” Ms Cecchin laughed. “Seriously though, I love what I do. I don’t see it as a job. I love making the food and seeing how it makes people happy. I always try to come out either at the start or the end of service when people come here to dine. It is about creating a memory or an experience for the customer.”
Ms Cecchin puts the success of the Old Saltbush down to doing the basics, or what people expect from a restaurant, well. “We don’t do anything you shouldn’t do in hospitality. People are met and greeted at the door. There are attended to as much or as little as they would like. There’s no phones ringing, there’s just music playing and the hustle and bustle of the staff.
”We want people to come here and feel like there are at a friend’s home or something like that. We want them to have a good time, a great experience, enjoy the food and take that away with them.”
Ms Cecchin is also quick to pay tribute to her staff, “I have a really great team. Without the staff I would be nobody. Camaraderie is important, we’re all in the trenches together, it is important everyone feels valued.”
With the new function room at the Old Saltbush, named “The Georgian Room,” set to open the Wednesday after her Brisbane event, it promises to be an eventful couple of weeks for Ms Cecchin and her team.