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While he was born and raised in Canberra,
Joseph Cataldo's extended Italian family
ensured he was surrounded by good
food, coffee and wine from a young age.
"Growing up, every weekend we'd get
together at my grandparents' house and
we'd eat this communal food," Cataldo says.
Sharing food with loved ones was an important part of
Cataldo family life, even though it was many years before
Joseph was the one preparing the meals.
"I was never really in there cooking, I was just there to
enjoy the food," he laughs.
The meals he shared at his grandparents' home
eventually inspired his career path away from the well-
known family business and into the kitchen.
Cataldo's grandfather Giuseppe Cataldo was a prominent
local businessman who built a successful hairdressing
empire in Canberra.
He immigrated to Australia from the Italian province
of Avellino in 1957, leaving behind his wife Ida and two
young sons while he tried to make a better life for them
Although he dabbled in construction, his real passion
was hairdressing and he began building up a client base.
After more than four years apart, his wife and sons
joined him in Canberra. With his family by his side he
opened his first salon in Hobart Place in 1965.
His work ethic and determination inspired his family,
including his two eldest sons Angelo and Emilio (Joseph's
father), who followed him into hairdressing.
His wife of 58 years and his children and grandchildren
continue to honour his legacy through their work and the
family's shared love of Italian food.
Now a chef and business owner, Cataldo has applied the
valuable lessons of his upbringing to his latest venture. He
recently opened Canberra's first official laneway restaurant
in the Melbourne Building's utility laneway.
The pasta bar, Loading Zone, operates almost entirely
outside in a piazza-style set up in Odgers Lane, with the
exception of a small kitchen.
Cataldo says he was inspired to open the pasta bar after
he spent time in Tokyo and ate at quick, little noodle bars.
He says he wanted to recreate the concept with authentic
With the support of his family and his wife Helena he
spent almost three years getting approval for and opening
his laneway endeavour.
"My whole family backed this project and made it
what it is," Cataldo says. "My mum's had a big influence
on me ... she's also been an integral part of opening this
Jennine Cataldo cooks in the restaurant with her son
and is enjoying being a part of the exciting new venture.
"She's in there every day; I roped her in," Cataldo laughs.
"She's doing a lot of the preserves and we're making our
own artisan jams and pestos.
"My nonna's come in as well and shared with us her
sugo recipe, which is something we've managed to get
after all these years she has kept it to herself."
She also taught the Loading Zone chefs how to make her
pork and fennel sausages, something Cataldo describes
as a miracle because she has always been very secretive
about her recipes. She cooks on taste rather than using
precise measurements, which makes recreating her food
slightly more challenging.
"Because of that we're still fine tuning what she's
showed us," he says.
While they might not have perfected her recipes just
yet, she has given the cafe her tick of approval, much to
As well as a love for delicious Italian food, it seems the
young chef has inherited his grandfather's work ethic. He
splits his time between his espresso bar, Bean in the City,
and his new restaurant, starting work early each morning
to bake friands, muffins and tarts. He then heads to the
bar for the peak coffee hours before working lunch service
at Loading Zone.
"It's been quite challenging because I'm still starting at
4am and then doing Loading Zone," he says.
"Basically going from one place and getting smashed
and going to the other placed and getting smashed."
He is helped by his head chef, Vanessa Scanes, who
was also his former mentor and the chef he trained under
during his apprenticeship at The Lobby Restaurant.
It's been a long time in the making but Canberra's first official
laneway restaurant, Loading Zone, has made itself at home in
the Melbourne Building's utility laneway. JONI SCANLON writes
The popular Soju Girl restaurant, which faces
onto Northbourne Avenue, has extended its
dining options back into the laneway next
door to Loading Zone.
Aiming to be a modern interpretation of the
pub concept, Soju Girl has added to its dining
room, cocktail lounge and bistro with a new
gallery space, as well as the outdoor seating
in Odgers Lane.
With modern Asian food and an extensive
wine list, Soju Girl's foray into the lane adds
another dimension to the city's first big effort
to permanently establish laneway dining.
A: Northbourne Avenue, Canberra City
(backing onto Odgers Lane)
P: 6257 5328
"I knew that with her experience, expertise and the way
she cultivates her team in the kitchen that she would be the
perfect addition to the Loading Zone family," Cataldo says.
"It's very flattering she would be happy to come on board."
All their hard work has paid off with Canberra diners
welcoming the laneway dining concept in the few months
Loading Zone has been operating in the city.
"Everyone is really embracing it and they really like it and
it doesn't matter that they're sitting near a dumpster or a
truck is passing by -- that makes it awesome."
A: 22 Odgers Lane, Canberra City
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