Gold Coast café culture has done well from the downward shift in fine dining culture. Hot Shott is no exception.
An example is owners and business partners, Chef Kellie Rolfe and Barista Jenna Finch, who took the opportunity to move from their jobs at Palazzo Versace to open their own business in Main Beach in 2016.
The owners have complementary skills, Jenna’s gained on the Gold Coast in five star hotels and Kellie’s from travel, working in five countries over eight years, including at Banff, Bermuda and London’s Savoy, before returning to Australia to take up the position of Banquet Chef at Versace, where she met Jenna.
Hot Shott is one of at least five GC cafes who’ve gained chefs from Versace as the demand for more casual venues has grown; Cadence, Simple Coffee, Caffe Republic, Black Sheep Bistro are some others who’ve scored as well. Now it’s Main Beach’s turn, the pair hoping to add something special to the street on its journey back to life.
“Main Beach used to be such an amazing strip, then it went through a lull in the GFC,” says Kellie. “Although we looked from Southport to Main Beach, we never really strayed from Tedder Avenue. Actually, we had our eye on this place for a few months.”
With true commitment, the pair worked hard to build their dream, even laying bricks and tiles themselves to keep costs down.
There’s a rare naive boho feel to the décor. Alice in Wonderland-like, animals peer down at our food from their place on the walls. It’s frivolity we rarely see, a joyfulness Kellie says she picked up in Bermuda during her stint there as a chef.
“I want to be playful and see what I can do with food,” she adds. “Visually you see it, smell it, taste it. When you play with all the senses you create a different experience – playful but not unapproachable.”
Sporting an all-day breakfast and lunch menu, her dishes cross the boundaries of tradition and whimsy. It’s exciting for the diner, the theatre of my smoked trout for breakfast played out as it emerges, smokin’ hot from under a cloche; the latest US trend to hit the coast. Fortunately for vegetarians, it’s not just the trout that’s smoked, but the avo as well!
Difference continues: Eggs Bene is served in two mini croissants featuring house made hollandaise, the Serious Burger with parmesan and rosemary truffle-duck fat fries and smoked aioli is worth raving about (OMG!), while the tiered bagel board and cinnamon scroll pancakes display deft twists to classic comfort food, fashion circling back to well-loved traditional dishes presented with new flair.
The Hot Shott is novel as well. Gimicky? Maybe, but why haven’t we thought of a chocolate lined waffle cup for an expresso before? Taste not waste! The Hot Shott certainly beats a paper cup!
“It doesn’t cost any extra to create a ‘Wow!’ factor,” Kellie tells us. She’s right, of course, but what it does cost is imagination and a stepping up to the challenge of being different. No problem there. It’s a task Kellie and Jenna are happy to meet head on, for example when they turn Eggs Bene into Brulée eggs! Yummo!
“Even our tourists are waking up to the importance of good food,” Jenna says. “We’re catching up, finding our point of difference and good service.”
Building a team and managing food costs are issues Kellie and Jenna have faced in their pursuit of their dream café.
“It’s an exciting challenge. Our core team is strong, but getting good staff is the trickiest thing,” Kellie tells us. “This is our first venture. It’s a steep learning curve for us but the community has been very supportive. We’ve had regulars from Day Two.”
“Next year, we aspire to open at night,” Kellie says. “We’re looking forward to the Gold Coast 600 and the street Christmas party.”
In the meantime, plans are to take things step by step, to keep growing to be a well-rounded eatery and to create their own learning bases. So far, though, in a street that’s suffered a veritable eatery drought, Hot Shott has done exactly that!
3/17 Tedder Avenue, Main Beach Ph: 07 5532 3275
Open: Mon – Sun 6.30am – 4pm
NOTE: This is an updated version of this review.