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Southbanker

10 Oct 2019

Southbanker Image

An altruistic vibe

By Rhonda Dredge

Everyone is doing a performance piece down at the Malthouse Theatre, including Murray Pitman, the host of the Malthouse Kitchen.

Mostly he’s playing the straight guy, looking after the many different artistes who visit on a regular basis.

He’s had the gig for 11 years and sometimes he seems like the only normal person around.

“I call myself a caterer,” he said. “I like to say if catering fails I can always fall back on acting.”

Murray has a little cubbyhole above the kitchen where he hides sometimes at just before two, when the lunch crowd begins to fade.

But he’s usually at his post behind the counter of one of Melbourne’s most comforting places.

A couple of years ago they put in the long tables out the front, made out of an old pier, to take advantage of the setting.

“There were just a few tables and chairs before that,” he said. They also got rid of some horrible green paneling.

Inside the mood is dark, offering a haven for students and staff from the Victorian College of the Arts who like to discuss their latest projects.

Murray sometimes gets involved but he likes the fact that each day is different. “We don’t listen to their gripes. Don’t write that.”

At night they’re on full production for the theatre crowd, with 80-150 meals running through their kitchen in 45 minutes.

Chefs are given the opportunity to express themselves with different dishes and so are wait and kitchen staff, some of whom are in the performance industry.

Murray conceded that working seven days a week could be exhausting but he hadn’t lost his sense of humour.

“I’m still waiting to be discovered,” he said, or words to that effect when Southbank Local News commented on his heroic looks.

He doesn’t really have to advertise his business. People are regulars. They sit for hours over a glass of wine, reading the papers. Even the Sydney Morning Herald is available.

If you are lucky you can catch the beginning of a new art movement as it is hatched up on the balcony.

When Southbank Local News visited a plan to turn a meeting into an artwork was being aired.

The prices are kept affordable for artists, who rarely have full-time jobs.

The Malthouse Kitchen is not a charity but it does have an altruistic vibe.

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