Astra’s Head Chef Monica Melendez has always been drawn to the food industry, a passion she inherited from her family. Growing up in Southeast Victoria, Monica found herself from a young age happiest in the kitchen with her grandmother. Her love of cooking was firmly embedded during her childhood and Monica could not wait to secure her first job as a kitchen hand at her local Italian Restaurant. With a firm understanding of what hard work, combined with talent and creativity could achieve, Mon was offered a second-year apprenticeship with Neil Perry at Two Hatted Rosetta Restaurant. Here she began to define her palate and hone her skills. Rosetta taught Monica one of her guiding principles, that superior quality ingredients prepared simply and with attention to detail will always shine through.
Monica’s journey continued, taking her to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Dishes were extremely intricate and provided Mon with an excellent taste of basic level gastronomy. After Dinner Monica continued to grow her culinary journey by travelling throughout Asia and Japan.
In 2020, Monica joined the Traverse Alpine Group (TAG) team as Astra Chef de partie. Monica was mentored and worked alongside several Head Chefs at Astra, Elm Dining, Bright and Huski Kitchen. Over the last 3 years, Mon has established her own style, and is ready to feed and nourish guests for Winter 2023.
“What I love most about being a chef is the camaraderie in the kitchen and sharing my passion for food with like-minded people. I enjoy seeing guests getting excited when experiencing our food, it is just one of the most fulfilling feelings!”
For Winter 2023, Astra’s guests can expect total dining experience which will be influenced by Monicas’s European style training alongside a pop of Asian techniques and ingredients. Simple, delicious, yet refined dining awaits Astra guests.
The Astra bar is a destination of its own. One of Monica’s many joys is sitting by the fire with a glass of wine accompanied with cheese, charcuterie and most importantly, friends! This intimate and welcoming feeling is exactly what she wishes to bring back this year with a selection of specially curated delicacies for guests to enjoy while relaxing in our world class lounge.