Justin Wise is keeping busy. Having just left the kitchen at Albert Park fine-diner The Point following a change of ownership, he now has not one but three new projects on the go across Melbourne.
First up is a consultancy at Meatmaiden, a CBD spin-off of Richmond southern barbecue joint Meatmother, due to open 27 August. Set in the Little Collins Street basement formerly occupied by the ill-fated Little Hunter, it's pitched as a more refined version of the original, which is where Wise steps in.
The menu still tracks the trodden Americana path - southern-fried chicken wings, jerky, 10-hour smoked beef short ribs from a Silver Creek smoker - but also stretches to the likes of pickled heirloom vegetables with goat's cheese, and smoked barramundi with charred eggplant. There's also a lobster mac 'n' cheese which may gain a cult following or signal the end of days, or both.
Meatmaiden's quest for refinement will be further helped by a wine list assembled by Jane Semple, The Point's gun sommelier, along with new head chef, Riki Day, who worked under wise at The Point before moving to Meatmaiden.
Next on the list is a consultancy at Eureka 89, the dégustation-only fine diner at the top of Eureka Tower. Wise's love of primo ingredients, put to such good use at The Point, will come into play next month with his first menu there. Expect foie gras, lobster and Murray cod galore.
Wise will also be lending his skills to the Open Door Pub Company, which owns 17 hotels across the city, setting up an upmarket meat-centric dining room above the group's most high-profile city venue, The Duke.
And after all that? It might be time for a short lie down.
Meatmaiden, 195 Little Collins St, Melbourne, Vic
Eureka 89, level 89, Eureka Tower, 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank, Vic, (03) 9693 8889