Updated: Mar 30, 2021
Trader in the Spotlight: Osteria 20
818 Glenferrie Road
Marc Brown’s extravagant cooking career has taken him all over the world, but the self-professed romantic remains in Glenferrie to perfect his passion project, Osteria 20.
Marc grew up in the small English town of Nantwich, Cheshire. Born to Jamaican parents, the kitchen was always the most important part of the family home. Marc “grew up clinging to my mother’s apron strings”, learning the fundamentals of cooking as she made traditional Jamaican and Western dishes. The importance of fresh, locally-sourced produce was “a value I learned from a young age” from his “hunter-gather” father, and is one Marc maintains in his kitchens.
After school, Marc started an apprenticeship in cookery and landed his first job at a local hotel. Within three weeks of graduation, 18-year-old Marc was on a train to London to work at the Marriott Hotel where he would meet pastry chef and his future wife, Rachel.
After a decade working for internationally-renowned chefs, prestigious restaurants, and celebrity owners across London, Marc was asked to come and run the Hyatt Hotel’s new restaurant in Canberra. Chasing his love for travelling and adventure and knowing nothing about the country, Marc moved to Australia in 2001. Rachel soon followed suit, giving birth to their second son in Canberra.
In 2004, the family moved to the "European" city of Melbourne where Marc headed, owned, and operated an array of restaurants throughout the Yarra Valley and CBD.
It was in 2016 that Marc received a pivotal phone call from businessman George Papagellou. He insisted Marc visit his restaurant on Glenferrie Road, at that time named 818. A week later, Marc was 818’s executive chef with his long-time head chef Anthony Caruso by his side.
Marc immediately recognised the restaurant’s challenges, most namely a lack of identity. They closed for one month in 2018 to re-open with a brand new face: Osteria 20, Glenferrie’s own family-oriented, smart-casual Italian restaurant. George handed over full ownership and operation to Marc in early 2020.
While he still loves getting behind the stove, Marc generally tries to stay out of the kitchen so that he can monitor Osteria 20 from the outside, to improve and guide the business in the right direction as a whole.
Marc has always endeavoured to “embrace the local community and families” with a restaurant that is “simple in nature, embracing in its delivery, and who never says no”.
Personally, Marc believes Glenferrie “looks absolutely fantastic with alfresco dining all down the street”. Although his family currently lives in Croydon, Marc still finds time to have a “cheeky wine” with Anthony at their favourite venue, Vaporetto.
He also often visits Leaf and local Asian grocers Jinfu and Grand Laguna for fresh ingredients for Osteria 20.
While he believes “Glenferrie Road has a potential still to fulfil”, Marc loves the strip because “there is something here for everyone”.