Meet Callum Graham from Contact Bar & Kitchen and Baia The Italian

What is your name?



What is the name of the Group or Venue you work with?

Contact Bar & Kitchen/Baia the Italian


Tell us about the Group or Venue:

Contact Bar & Kitchen is a conceptual venue paying tribute to Alexander Graham-Bell’s invention of the first practical telephone. We play on the irony that was meant to bring people together, but it this modern day & age tends to push people apart. At Contact we have created a place for people to be social, all things on the menu are designed to be shared & we have incentives for guest to leave there phone behind the bar… All while embracing our core view of hospitality; knowledgable & classy service with absolutely no space for hospitality pretenceousness. Baia the Italian is a 400 seat restaurant in prime location Darling Harbour. Being in such a hospo saturated area we are all about value. Between 5pm-7pm we offer 3 courses for $35 plus a glass of wine or beer. 3pm-6pm features our famous Happy Hour which features 2 for 1 on all drinks including our expansive range of Cocktails. I know it sounds bias but it is genuinely one of the best drinks deals in town.


Who do you see as a game changer or innovating in the hospitality industry and why?

In Sydney? Andrea Gualdi of Maybe Frank holds my favourite beverage program right now and he’s a bloke who does hospitality the right way… Hardly surprising as he worked shoulder to shoulder with Simone Corporale & Alex Catrena (possibly the most respected bartending duo) at Artisan, London… World’s best bar 5 years in a row.


Favourite cocktail or food recipe?

Favourite classic right now is the Bamboo Cocktail; equal parts Fino Sherry & Sweet Vermouth w Orange bitters & a lemon Twist. Something you can drink all afternoon without getting wasted. I’m also loving The Wanderlust & El Passaporte which have come out of the Bacardi Legacy competition over the last few years by Ryan Someone (Lobo Plantation) & Igor Pachi (Asembely Bar) respectively.


What made you get into the hospitality industry?

A deep desire not to go to university… Hospitality just happens to be in my nature & providing friendly service is something that happens automatically and I really enjoy that. I’m also an alcoholic but let’s look on the bright side


What do you think is the biggest challenge for the industry?

When large companies aggressively expand the industry suffers. People get hired who shouldn’t get hired, people get promoted who shouldn’t get promoted and you end up with a bunch of people in charge of some fancy places who do not care about core hospitality values… It’s a precursor of the status quo in the UK where companies own 500 venues, they’re all pretty much the same with the same metioaker service… That & the huge shortages of chefs in the country which is not helped by their stagnant salleries over the past decades.


What is the industry doing well?

Obviously cocktail culture has exploded in the last 5 years in Sydney & the quality of bars around is quite high. The guests themselves are more informed about what they’re drinking & eating and many venues are rising to the task of satisfying the informed guest. Sydney Bar week is a great example of a strong hospitality community and there is a plethora of cocktail completions each year for young guns to help them break into the broader bartending community.