March 4, 2022

Kirsty Chiaplias has been cooking her entire working life, “I did my apprenticeship at William Angliss and cooked at the Old Melbourne Hotel, which is now a part of Melbourne Uni,” Kirsty says. 

After owning and operating The Workers Foodroom in the CBD and doing a stint at Innocent Bystander, Kirsty opened Babajan cafe in Carlton North, a small but welcoming venue serving Middle eastern-inspired dishes. Covid lockdowns through 2020 saw Kirsty move towards a takeaway-only business model while keeping true to fresh, seasonal dishes and broadening the cuisines on offer. 

It worked and we think she’s amazing, so we are thrilled to have Kirsty as our Mount Zero Hero this month!

Kirsty has been utilising Mount Zero products for many years and now also has our oils and olives as part of the small grocery section she has dedicated to the refurbished Babajan. 

“I love the quality and especially the consistency of Mount Zero,” she says, and her current business model allows her to champion Mount Zero's products in different ways. 

“I’m really enjoying the shop; I can get a lot more creative - do new things.” She adds, “I started off doing mid-Eastern and Turkish dishes but I’m Greek, so I am adding flavours and dishes from my heritage.” 

The counter at Babajan is an abundance of cakes,  her famous boreks, flaky pastry with a variety of fillings; perhaps, lamb and potato; silverbeet and feta; and haloumi and salads bursting with fresh, seasonal ingredients. 

Kirsty has shared one of those salads with us today. Her Babajan cracked freekeh tabouli is an explosion of textures, fresh mint, parsley, sumac, Mt Zero freekeh and a feast of fresh elements.

babajan cracked freekeh tabouli

“It’s great for lunch on its own, as a side dish, you can have it anytime, it’s a really versatile dish,” she says. 

Kirsty is skyrocketing, with an appearance at this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival – of which Mount Zero is proud to be a partner – cooking with the World’s Longest Brunch and opening a new Babajan in the city. 

The future is bright for Kristy and we’re excited to be along for the ride. Fasten your seatbelts! 

the fast five 

1. If you weren't a chef, what would you be doing?

Hmm, This is difficult. I have been cooking since I was like 14, maybe younger, outside of a job. I did want to join the air force when I was a teenager, but can’t say I would be doing that now. 

With the life I have lived and what I know… I would possibly think about doing something with DHHS and child protection or putting in new laws to support families and children affected by drugs and family violence. I love to make some sort of change in that area, it is close to my heart. 

2. Last place you dined out? 

The last place was recently for my birthday, and I booked Epocha. It was sensational. I can’t fault the food in one bit. The service was great too. But I wish I could have fit in all the tasty morsels cooked. A go-to!

3. What's your favourite Melbourne restaurant? 

This I have said before but my fave restaurant in Melbourne is Lee Ho Fook. I have other close seconds, but I could eat there a lot. Though I try to change it up to experience new places this is definitely #1!

4. Favourite season of the year for produce? 

I think I like the change over from summer to autumn. My fig tree is abundant but not ripe yet. My fig tree reminds me of my father. So, the figs got me. 

5. Do you have any special projects scheduled for 2022 or beyond?

Yes!!!! I am opening another Babajan. It will be small and in the CBD. I am super excited to get it started. Watch this space!