Presenter & Chef
Karen Martini is an award-winning chef, restaurateur, author and television presenter. Her food message is drawn from her professional cooking career, her Tunisian-Italian heritage and from the challenges of feeding nutritious and stimulating food to her young family.
Karen was the founding chef at the critically acclaimed Melbourne Wine Room and Sydney’s Icebergs Dining Room and Bar. As executive chef of both restaurants, she held two chef’s hats in Sydney and Melbourne, and won, with Icebergs, the 2004 Best New Restaurant Award from The Sydney Morning Herald. After 15 years at The Melbourne Wine Room, Karen and her partner Michael Sapountsis sold in 2011 to pursue new projects. Karen and Michael still own and run St Kilda’s much-loved pizzeria mr. wolf, which they launched in 2004.
Karen was the food editor for The Age’s Sunday Life Magazine for six years, and the food editor for The Age’s Epicure/Good Living lift-out for five years. She has contributed several articles to The Australian, and is the author of the cookbooks, Salads & Vegetables, New Kitchen, Home, Everyday, The Karen Martini Collection, Feasting, Cooking at Home and Where the Heart Is. Karen is currently working on a major book project with Hardie Grant, which is due for release in 2020.
For over a decade, Karen has been the resident chef on Australia’s longest running lifestyle television series, Better Homes and Gardens, along the way sharing in seven consecutive Logie Awards. Karen appears as a regular judge on Seven’s hit reality cooking program, My Kitchen Rules, and is the co-host of Seven’s The Intolerant Cooks, which is currently in its third season. Karen was the regular chef on Lifestyle Café, a 13-part series on The Lifestyle Channel. In 2014,
Karen hosted a prime-time special, Guide to a Classic Christmas, alongside Curtis Stone, which was shot in her home, with the pair sharing recipes for their modern take on Christmas traditions.
Over the years, Karen has cooked for many charity functions, as well as demonstrating and presenting at events and festivals. She has been a key presenter at The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and presented again in 2013. Karen was a Showcase Presenter at the 2012 Sydney International Food Festival, and, also in 2012, anchored a successful live auditorium show based on My Kitchen Rules. Karen is a crowd favourite at the Better Homes and Gardens LIVE shows, taking the audience through her popular television recipes in real time.
In 2014, Karen turned interviewer, conducting an intimate conversation with Yotam Ottolenghi live on stage at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre. For Yotam’s brief visit, the pair, along with Shane Delia, also prepared a brunch for 400 people displaying their shared passion for the food of the Middle East and Mediterranean.
Karen is the Food Ambassador for Aurrum, one of Australia’s leading residential aged-care providers, designing menus, responding to feedback from residents and training the in-house chefs. And in 2018, Karen was appointed as Chef Ambassador for the house venues at the Sydney Opera House, joining Peter Gilmore and Matt Moran as residents in Sydney’s most iconic.