25 September 2023

Five minutes with Matt Labrum, Snapper & Co

| Claire Sams
A man sitting in front of a Snapper and Co sign

Matt Labrum has worked in hospitality jobs (with one short exception) since leaving high school. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Who are you?

My name is Matt Labrum. I’m the bar manager at Snapper and Co at the Southern Cross Yacht Club. I look after the two bars down here.

What are three key things someone should know about you?

My favourite colour is blue and I love sports. I’m really into AFL (go Melbourne!), and a lot of American sports, especially college football and ice hockey.

I also have a pet bird named Luey, a cockatiel. When I’m hanging out on the couch, watching TV, he’s screaming the house down – but the neighbours say he’s not that loud!

What does your typical day look like?

It varies. I’m doing something a bit different each day.

My day-to-day is usually working behind the bar or doing admin things like rosters. For the most part, it’s being on the tools. I enjoy being behind the bar most, serving people and working with my team to help to develop their skills.

What are the top three items that really show what Snapper and Co can do?

From a food perspective, our battered fish and chips – we sell copious amounts of it and it’s the best in Canberra. One thing we’ve just added to the menu is a whole baby snapper. I’m not the biggest fan of seafood, but that dish is something I would go for.

Drinks-wise, we have Capital Brewing’s full range of tap and can beers, and we get a keg of small batches.

A man in apron and top-knot leaning over the bar and smiling

Matt says Snapper & Co is known for its incredible fish and chips, snapper (of course) and some good drinks. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

How did you get your current job?

I left school without knowing what I wanted to do, but when I fell into the hospitality industry, I fell in love with it. I had friends working in hospitality, so it was easy to get a job with them. Hospitality is an easy gig to get into as a fresh school leaver and it comes with flexible hours. I’ve been in hospitality since I left school, so for about 12 or 13 years now.

I left hospitality for a year and struggled with sitting in front of a computer all day in a public service job, but my resume was passed onto the Canberra Southern Cross Club People and Culture team and I got a call one day asking if I’d like to come in for an interview.

What is Canberra’s best-kept food secret?

I think Braddon. There are plenty of places around that suburb, so many restaurants and other places that have great quality food and drinks. One of my favourite places to go is Eightysix in Braddon.

I have pretty simple tastes, food-wise, so drinks are where I get a bit more excited. I really enjoy trying places where things are tailored towards a specific product, so places like Highball Bar [in Civic] or Cabo [in Civic]. Those places focus on something cool and doing something a bit different.

What are your favourite or must-use ingredients when cooking at home?

Garlic, chilli and onions – those three ingredients should be in pretty much everything. They’re the best base for anything from pastas to stir-fries.

What are your favourite foods?

A good chicken burger is definitely one of my comfort foods.

A man in apron and top-knot pouring a drink

Matt looks after two bars at the Southern Cross Yacht Club. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

What TV show or movie are you watching right now?

I’ve just finished watching The Bear on Disney+ [about a fictional kitchen]. I absolutely loved it, but it was probably scarily accurate to my experience in hospitality at times. That’s one of the best shows I’ve watched in years.

Where do you dine out for special occasions?

Eightsix [in Braddon] would be my go-to pretty much anytime I’m going out, but outside of that, my next go-to place would be Capital Brewing’s taproom in Fyshwick. I really enjoy their vibe, and their set-up and the products are great.

Those places would be where I’d catch up with friends if we were celebrating anything.

Who do you admire in the Canberra food scene?

There’s no one person specifically, but probably the whole industry. There are so many good breweries, distilleries and wineries. They’re putting out such high-quality products that you can tell they put a lot of heart into them.

What is something that people may not realise about your job?

We have a lot of things to do back-of-house. Before we open and after we close, we’re restocking fridges, topping up ice and doing a lot of cleaning. You’re trying to keep a calm front-of-house for the public, but there’s heaps to do.

An easy one to finish – what’s your go-to coffee order?

When I’m working, it’s a double espresso or a jug of cold brew when I’m at home.

Canberra Southern Cross Club’s Snapper and Co is located at 1 Mariner Place, Yarralumla, and is open from Monday to Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm and for breakfast from 8 am to 11 am on Saturday and Sunday.

Original Article published by Claire Sams on Riotact.

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