Melbourne's #1 Food Market

Market Tour Tales – Friendship Across the Ages

With our Hidden Gem Market tour guide,

Giovanna Walker

Gio is privy to a lot of inside info when it comes to our long list of traders. We asked her to compile a series of Market Tour Tales to share some of the behind the scenes collaborations, relationships and stories that she discovers on the Market floor. This week she meets with Damian Pike and Anthony Barille.

It’s before dawn, mid winter in Melbourne and just nudging one degree. I’m walking to Prahran Market to have breakfast with traders Damian Pike and Anthony Barille. I find Damian (somewhere north of 70) at his stall Damian Pike Wild Mushroom Specialist. This year he’ll have been at the Market for 30 years.  Anthony, just 18, is unpacking produce at his dad’s stall Garden State Fruit Supply, which has been at the Market for over 25 years.

Saturday morning is when Damian and Anthony catch up over breakfast, a weekly ritual.  I ask Damian about their unlikely friendship. “Mate, I sometimes forget that Anthony is still at school, he has all the ambition in the world; he gets involved, is eager to learn and is so passionate about the Market”.  He shakes his head as if in disbelief.  “I’ve never thought of him as a school kid, you know?”

While Damian and Anthony’s dad, John, both have a long association with the Market, Anthony and Damian only got to know each other after the renovation in 2013 when both their stalls were moved opposite each other.

Anthony does Business Studies at school but says, “It doesn’t teach you the practical side of business like the Market. I’ve learnt from Damian that you can specialise in different areas. The stall with dad is more a generalist stall, whereas Damian has truffles and more specific produce.”

I challenge Anthony to come up with a recipe for three ingredients picked at random – shallots, zucchini and celeriac.  He comes back quickly and suggests soup, “but roast the shallots and zucchini in the oven, cut up the celeriac in small cubes and boil with some stock.  Then combine all ingredients and blitz with a hand mixer.  Serve with some Greek yoghurt and sprinkle with herbs”. Not bad.

Anthony smiles as he recounts Damian’s unwillingness to stock any fruit or vegetable that he doesn’t like.  “You won’t see a green capsicum at Damian’s; there’ll be red, yellow or orange, but never, ever green,” he says. Damian says he’s been lucky he’s been helped by a lot of great people at the Market, and his customers have become friends.  “I don’t feel like I go to work.  I come here, it’s easy, I still get a kick out of it.” Anthony chimes in, “If I could learn one tenth of what dad and Damian know, I know I’ll be successful.”

When you’re 70 plus, there’s not much more you could ask for.  No wonder Anthony aspires to be like Damian when he grows up – who wouldn’t?

To meet Damian and Anthony, book into a FREE hidden gem market tour? For more tour info click here.

Written by Giovanna Walker


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