Olivia Meli

About Montenegro
Olivia Meli, chef of Villa Geba, one of the best hotels in Montenegro, a member of The Small Luxury Hotels of the World, shared her favorite places on the coast with Prime Traveler readers.
Can you tell a few world about yourself, how you came to work in Sveti Stefan, in Villa Geba? I know that you have previously worked with some of the greatest French chefs, can you tell a little about that?

Thanks to my French father and Kiwi Mother, I was born into this world a traveller. Our numerous family adventures with my sisters along with my parent's dreamy stories of different cultures and cuisines, languages and people made me impatient to discover it all for myself. So at 18 I set off from my hometown of Brisbane, Australia and haven't stopped moving since!

I have adopted the very Australian lifestyle mode of "going with the flow" and trusting my gut and it has worked out well for me so far!

I started my career as a Chef working in some of the best kitchens in Brisbane, then was offered the chance to join Emmanuel Renaut's incredible team at Flocons de Sel in Megeve, France. I am honoured to have been there when he received his third Michelin Star and thankful for the many doors it opened for me afterwards. Emmanuel taught me humility and grace in the kitchen and his extraordinary connection to nature left a deep impression on me.

I then worked at Restaurant Joel Robuchon at the Hotel Metropole in Monaco, a dream for any young chef. I was taught technique and precision and of course many of the great French Classic Dishes. French Polynesia was my next destination, where I on the opening team at The Brando - A five-star luxury hotel on the island of Tetiaroa (or as I like to call it „Paradise").

Unexpectedly but thankfully, the mountains called and I spent several seasons at the five star luxury Hotel Saint Roch in Courchevel where I worked up to the position of Head Chef.

It was here that I was recruited by one of my dear guests to become Head Chef of Villa Geba and arrived in dreamy Montenegro just over a year ago. What an honour and what an amazing place to now call home!
Can you share the addresses of your favourite cafes, markets, restaurants and bars? Muse, of course, should be included ) It can be in any part of the country — in Kotor Bay, on the seaside, or even in the mountains.

Muse Restaurant
With its combination of French techniques and the finest produce Montenegro has to offer we hope that here you will find something different, something new. We strive to create a tailored experience for each and every one of our guests. We have a constantly evolving A la Carte and Bar menu as well as many more daily surprises.

But of course, hospitality is all about sharing knowledge and celebrating the talents of others so here are a few of my favourite places I think you must check out in Montenegro:

Bar Markets
Just in front of the old town. You will not need to google what fruits and vegetables are in season because everything is right there in front of you. Do a tour of the old town before you fill your baskets and be transported to another century!

Porat Restoran
My „local" as we say in Australia. It's a stone's throw away from where I live and I am never disappointed- ask for the freshest fish of the day to see what I mean!

Konoba Langust
For those of you searching somewhere delightful where you can be taken care of, then roll on over to a sunbed on the tranquil beach. It is one of my favourite local places to eat on a day off.

A unique boutique offering the highest quality fresh seafood, italian delicacies, french pastries and now daily-made sushi. They know what they are doing, but beware, time seems to stop in their store and you can easily pass half a day in there!

Masala Art Indian Restaurant
I am so happy to have discovered this place as it brings an exotic and professional touch of spice and heat that is not so known here. Try the banquet meals to be surprised in the best way. Also you will be amazed by their beautiful hand-made menus and decor!

Forza Mare
A view like no other. Creative and exciting cuisine with great technique and professional, warm and welcoming service. A must-do by boat!
Imagine that a friend of yours is visiting and only has one day to see and try as many nice things as they can. Can you suggest a perfect day scenario for them? Breakfast, hiking, sightseeing, lunch, etc. The more details the better.

My perfect day in Montenegro: It must be said that I am no expert and there are many things I am yet to discover!

First up: a walk on the beach from Becici all the way down to Kamenevo Beach. Where i grew up in Queensland, Australia, the beaches are very vast. You often feel like you're alone in a tranquil place that is the feeling I get when I am at the beach at Becici. Look out for a beautiful turquoise stone mass halfway. It'll make you feel like you've reached some kind of milestone or important point in your life. There's something quite magical about it.

Then I would probably suggest that from there you hop on a boat that takes you to Porto Montenegro to get your hair done at Vlado's then to Crush Wine Station with Milos to discover a crazy new wine you've never heard of but are amazed by.

And speaking of wines- next stop would be Savina Winery with its breathtaking views. This winery is run by a family dedicated to quality and produce the most exquisite herb liqueur that would give some French establishments a run for their money. On second thoughts, you might need a whole separate day to experience this!

Your final destination (and yes I am biased) would have to be at Muse Restaurant at Villa Geba. Honestly, the sunsets are like no other and on top of that you have sweet tunes by Mila, unique and dangerously good cocktails by our front of house team and delightful bites by our kitchen crew. You will not want to leave. Don't believe me? Come and see for yourself.

PRIME Traveller №6 (96), September 2020

PRIME Traveller №6 (96)
September 2020
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