Find Your Muse
When Chrissie and Peter Degotardi left the fashion industry to open an authentic, free-range charcoal chicken shop, it was the beginning of a new chapter and allowed them to spread their wings further. Deb Caruso meets the family behind two of Noosa Junction’s tastiest venues.
Belgian-born Chrissie moved to Sydney in 1989 and worked in hospitality for a few years including running a restaurant in Manly before returning to her first love of fashion – and meeting her love, Peter.
Together they operated up to ten stores in Sydney including D-PO, Fragile and Poepke (meaning ‘cute little bum’), which is still going after Chrissie and Peter sold it to their staff.
“We started bringing in brands that weren’t here, such as G-Star and W<,” she said. “We started to license European Brands into Australia with Acne Studios and Orlebar Brown transitioning the stores back to International Office after a period of time.
“Our daughter Jani opened London brand Orlebar Brown in Bondi and we opened on Hastings Street which allowed us to move to Noosa.”
That was 2015 and Orlebar Brown has since been transitioned back offering Chrissie and Peter the chance to spread their wings
Chrissie identified a gap in the market for good quality, free-range charcoal chicken.
“When you go on holidays or after a hard day at work, you don’t want to cook but you don’t want bad food either,” she said. “It can be hard to find a good quality charcoal chicken that’s free-range so that’s where the idea of Bird came in.
“My dream was to have chickens, baguettes, salads, roast potatoes – keep it simple, wholesome and nutritious.”
‘Oven Boy’ Peter designed the look and feel for Bird as well as curating a wine list to rival the best venues with hand selected wines from the affordable end of the scale to special drops.
When Chrissie and Peter heard neighbouring Eddie Cheebas was for sale, they seized the opportunity and offered daughter Mikahlia (Mikki), who was teaching in Gympie, and her partner Kyran Holt the opportunity to run it.
“We’re a very close family and working together in the business made sense,” Chrisie says.
Mikki had experience as the Bar Manager at Peats Bite, Hawkesbury River while completing her teaching degree and Kyran also worked the bar while finishing his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner, specialising in hydraulics and pneumatics (you should see the keg system he has rigged up in the Muse mezzanine!).
The opportunity was accepted and the refurbishment began.
The concept for Muse was inspired by the all-day European Bars, Chrissie says.
“You can go to any city in Europe and sit in a brasserie for hours. It’s about the atmosphere, what you serve and the company you’re with,” she said.
Since opening at the end of 2021, Muse has certainly struck a chord – the atmosphere is relaxed; the food is simple, delicious; the cocktail list mouthwateringly-uncomplicated; and the beer and wines are sophisticated.
Once again, Peter has used his deft palate to curate a sophisticated wine list with a great selection by the glass or bottle (ask for the ‘Deb Chardonnay’ and you’ll understand what I mean!).
The menu offers great choices from Nibbles to Plates for solo satisfaction or sharing.
There is a connection to Bird throughout with dishes including Pan Fried Bird potatoes with Sriracha Mayonnaise; Potato Croquettes with Homemade Mayonnaise; the Bird Jalapeno Dip with Sourdough Crostini (divine!); and the Arancini features
Leek, Bird Chicken, Bocconcini, Pesto and Cauliflower – and that’s just some of the Nibbles to tweak your beak!
More substantial Plates range from a hearty soup to Sliced Wagyu Steak with Crispy Potatoes and Herb Butter; Prawn & Leek Pasta or a Taste of Europe plate made for sharing.
Chrissie says they have added to their menu since first opening.
“People would come to Muse for a glass of wine and a nibble and then go elsewhere for a meal,” she says.
“With our expanded menu, people can now come for a meal, order a bottle of wine and stay longer.
“That’s very European – some people come for a quick drink, some stay for hours, it doesn’t matter.”
Mikki said the feedback has been great.
“The vision was quite simple – friendly service, great drinks, good food,” she said. “We want everyone who comes here to feel relaxed and comfortable.
“We love finding out people’s stories, sharing our story. We have regular customers, love seeing new faces and have hosted celebrations from birthdays to engagements and weddings.”
The table at the front is perfect for get-togethers with a centre well begging to be filled with ice and bottles of wine.
“Everyone has been really kind, so supportive and just happy to have somewhere to enjoy a drink, some tapas and have a good time,” Mikki said.
“It’s great to be part of how the Junction is evolving, particularly in Arcadia Street. We’re like family.”
A muse can be defined as a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.
For Chrissie “Muse is all about women that inspire us.”
“To us it’s about strong women who are an inspiration,” she said. “We have a lot of women that come here on their own and we’re proud that we’ve created a safe and comfortable space.”
Mikki said her mum was her muse and the hardest working women she knew.
“I’m often the most disorganised, all over the place person and mum just inspires me to be better,” Mikki says with tears that are matched by Chrissie.
“This one,” Chrissie says pointing to her daughter. “This one has a golden heart – she’s beautiful. I wish my kids could live with me my whole life.”
“Especially me,” adds Mikki with a cheeky grin. “I’m the cute one.”
What’s next for the dynamic Degotardis?
Expect some little touches to make Muse more intimate and plans to open all day with a European-style breakfast, such as coffee and croissant to start the day; and chardonnay and charcuterie to end it – with loads of options in between.
There will be a first birthday celebration and if you’ve spotted the baby photo of Mikki on the walls, expect it to be joined by other images of inspiring women, all muses in some way.
A little birdie told me that Bird might be looking to spread its wings further, perhaps closer to the original nesting site for Chrissie and Peter. Watch this space.