One of the most telling signs of the presence of hospitality greatness is the ability to make it look effortless. Anyone who's had the pleasure of witnessing Louise Radman work the room at her brilliant Hobart wine bar Institut Polaire will get this because of the ease with which she can make a room full of people feel entirely at home.
Aptitude for the job is obviously strong in Radman but her natural ability comes with the impressively varied amount of work that she's packed into an extraordinary 30-plus-year career.
There's the scholarship she won early on in her career that enabled her to travel and gain experience in the likes of London's River Café and Willie's Wine Bar in Paris. Then time working in five-star hotels and as a designer working for big name hospo brands including Seppeltsfield and Domaine A. Radman's amazing career in wine could have its own chapter. She's worked as a sommelier, reviewer, judge, journalist and teacher and currently is the owner of one of Australia's best and most idiosyncratic wine bars and the founder and co-director (with her winemaker husband Nav Singh) of Tasmanian winery Domaine Simha and distillery Süd Polaire spirits. That she can make all that seem like just another day's work is the reason she's such a poster child and role model for how to get hospitality right.
Institut Polaire is a distillation of her many talents. Firstly, it's the location. Radman and her husband moved to Tasmania because they wanted to make wine in a cool climate. The fascination with the chill has translated to Radman's design of Institut Polaire, which takes its cues from Hobart being Australia's gateway to the Antarctic, echoed in the shades of white, silver and grey in the sleekly decorated wine bar. IP's magnificent signature Martini is made with gin from her and Singh's distillery and magnificent wines from Domaine Simha sit alongside a tight but brilliant (and award-winning) collection of wines that echo Radman's cool-climate predilections.
But it doesn't end there. She's recently also taken to overseeing the kitchen and the menu at Institut Polaire, taking the food to a place where it's better than it's ever been. If she wasn't so good at her job, you might feel a little resentful that someone was loaded with so much talent. As it is, the Australian hospitality scene has been made immeasurably better by having Lou Radman in it.