Matt and Bobbi-Lee Wells with children Sam and Emma-Lee .
Matt and Bobbi-Lee Wells with children Sam and Emma-Lee . Stuart Quinn, Stradbroke Island

Culinary duo set to return

A MUCH-LOVED restaurant power couple are returning to the region, answering the call of their previous partners.

The first week of July marks the nine-year anniversary that the Granite Belt's much-loved owner-chefs Matt and Bobbi-Lee Wells commenced trading at Ballandean Estate's signature restaurant, The Barrelroom.

Matt and Bobbi will take back the reins on Monday, July 1, with a view to staying long-term at the restaurant.

The culinary duo spent the last few years on North Stradbroke island operating Whales Way restaurant overlooking Home Beach, and will continue to manage both venues.

"Island life presents quite a few challenges with a young family - high cost of living, remote location, and really long hours in holiday season,” Mr Wells said.

"We've really missed the close community of the Granite Belt and its friendly faces. It's where we want to raise our family.

"Bobbi went back to work 14 days after giving birth to Emmy-Lee.

"Trading six days a week was just unsustainable, so we thought we'd try a more relaxed pace and island vibes. Alas! The reality was very different.

"Getting our work-life balance right was a major catalyst for the move from North Straddie to high country,” he said.

MEMORY LANE: Returning Barrelroom chefs Matt and Bobbi-Lee Wells. They were pictured here in 2012 after just wining best restaurant in a winery at the Queensland Restaurant and Caterers Awards.
MEMORY LANE: Returning Barrelroom chefs Matt and Bobbi-Lee Wells. They were pictured here in 2012 after just wining best restaurant in a winery at the Queensland Restaurant and Caterers Awards. File

Over the six years that the Wells operated The Barrelroom, the husband-wife team built a loyal following for their modern Australian menu with Italian influences, a natural fit for the Puglisi family winery.

Ballandean Estate business manager Robyn Henderson expressed her delight at their decision to raise their young family on the Granite Belt.

"Matt and Bobbi are family to us, and we have been missing out seeing their beautiful children Emma-Lee (10 months) and Sam (five years) grow.

"From the moment Matt and Bobbi-Lee walked into our cellar door, it was destined to be.

"Matt had a burns blister the size of a golf balloon on his finger. When I discovered they were both chefs looking for a business opportunity, I frog-marched them down to the Barrelroom to meet Mum and tell her it was time to let go of the reins.”

The pair have some grand visions for where they want to take the restaurant, despite having a laundry-list of accolades to their name from their previous stint at the helm. "Both Bobbi and I loved the food tourism side of running The Barrelroom, it really is a destination restaurant.”

Restaurant trading hours will be Thursday to Monday lunch and weekend dinners, giving the young chefs the additional family time they have been craving.

"We are bringing some new tricks with us,” Matt said.

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