Rhys Blackley,
Circa Head Chef

Published - 01.02.16

By The Publican

Commencing his culinary career at the tender age of 21, Rhys Blackley quickly rose through the ranks of North Fitzroy’s renowned, 2-hatted institution, Matteo’s, assuming the position of Sous Chef - under the sui generis Brendan McQueen - by 24. From McQueen, Rhys’ learnt a respect for the natural integrity of ingredients and the importance of simplicity.

Keen to further his understanding for produce and flavours, Rhys farewelled Matteo’s to travel throughout Europe; he worked on small organic farms in Italy, made olive oil and wine, tended vegetable patches, and foraged for wild foods. This was time-honoured hospitality at the source.

It was in Europe that Rhys obtained a genuine and lasting appreciation for ‘real’ food - produce grown, raised, sourced, and influenced by its regional environment. Words like sustainable, local, and organic now had a tangible meaning.

On Rhys’ his return to Melbourne’s ever-evolving dining scene in 2012, he was appointed Chef De Partie here at Circa - a kitchen, even then, renowned for producing some of the countries most exciting talents, including Andrew McConnell, Philippa SIbley, David Moyle, and Ben Shewry. Rhys joined Circa under then Executive chef, Paul Wilson and Head Chef, Jake Nicolson. Rhys’ contributed a mastery of balance and composition - food values once again evident in today’s dishes.

In 2014 Rhys was elevated to Sous Chef and was influential in Circa’s return to two-hatted prominence just three years later.

Rhys’ interminable rise through Circa’s ranks was complete with his ascension to Head Chef in 2016. With the support of his passionate and proud team, Rhys is excited to enrich Circa’s legendary dining experience - fusing flavours with an elegant simplicity and teasing the tastebuds with contrasting compositions. He describes his style as “not too chef-y”, but the result is gastronomical genius.

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