Meet chef Mario Sciacca who has swapped Bondi Beach for Halifax

Mario Sciacca, who was born in Sydney, home of the famous Bondi Beach, has taken over Towngate Brasserie & The Loft in Hipperholme.
Mario Sciacca, who was born in Sydney, home of the famous Bondi Beach, has taken over Towngate Brasserie & The Loft in Hipperholme.

Meet the Aussie chef who’s travelled the world to bring Halifax diners an international treat.

An Australian chef who has served up dishes in luxury dining rooms around the world, has swapped a life of glamorous travel for a new Halifax restaurant.

Chef Mario Sciacca, who was born in Sydney, home of the famous Bondi Beach, has taken over Towngate Brasserie & The Loft in Hipperholme.

Mario, 53, and his Italian-born wife, Katia, have now relaunched the popular restaurant with plans to offer diners a taste of international-inspired dishes, perfected over decades working in some of the world’s most exciting culinary destinations.

Mario was previously head chef at Bibi Italianissimo in Leeds, one of the city’s iconic Italian restaurants, where he worked for seven years.

However, his career spans decades of travelling the world, taking charge of and cooking in some fine dining kitchens and experiencing street food and local delicacies wherever he has travelled.

He said: “I’m fortunate, there are not many places I’ve not been! Now I want to bring all that travel experience together in my own restaurant.”

Mario’s incredible global career has seen him rack up the miles from Australia, to the Far East, Middle East and now the UK.

“I left Australia at 27 and headed to China and Hong Kong where I was working for large international hotel for three years. Then I ended up in Tokyo and Seoul before flying out to the Middle East.”

He worked for a luxury hotel group looking after its dining throughout the Middle East and Africa, before heading to a dream role in the Caribbean.

But Mario wasn’t done yet. “I was then in charge of cruise company Costa’s 17 ship’s kitchens, and ended up in the Philippines where I met my now wife, Katia.”

“We could have opted to stay in Italy but the bureaucracy there is a nightmare,” laughed Mario. “The UK is similar to Australia in that respect, so we came here.”

The couple loved the Leeds area so much that they were determined to find a business of their own, so Mario could be his own boss.

They worked with Leeds-based business experts Ernest Wilson, who specialise in a wide range of business premises and can guide prospective owners to the right one to suit them.

“A lot of my work was quite ‘corporate’ and I really wanted to get back to the kitchen,” says Mario. “I had a string of requirements, but Ernest Wilson worked hard to meet them all.

“I think we’ve found the perfect place.”

The fine dining restaurant, with separate tapas bar upstairs, features locally sourced, sustainable Yorkshire produce. He and Katia, who works front of house, have plans to develop the menus to introduce exciting new flavours for Halifax diners to try.

Mario added: “Running a business is hard work with lots of responsibility, but I’m enjoying it. I’d say to anyone thinking of giving it a go, to do it.”

Leeds-based Ernest Wilson are the UK’s leading business sales experts, with more than five decades of experience matching businesses with new owners.

Ernest Wilson has a wide range of restaurant and cafes currently for sale plus a diverse portfolio of other business opportunities.

Go to www.ernest-wilson.co.uk to find out more.