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Say grace in regional Victoria

In 2015 lawyer Bruno Garibaldi left Brazil with his wife Milena to study English in Australia. Falling in love with the country, the couple decided to extend their stay.

Milena and Bruno Garibaldi

Thinking he'd eventually return to Brazil with some new cooking skills to impress his family and friends, Bruno enrolled in a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery and a Diploma of Hospitality Management at William Angliss Institute. Little did Bruno know, he was about to embark on a whole new career.

"I actually thought that the course would be some sort of MasterChef experience, and I would be going to school to cook for fun, but it was much more than that," said Bruno.

In addition to improving his cooking, Bruno learnt how to navigate a commercial kitchen, run a business and manage the stresses of the hospitality industry.

He eventually began splitting his time between studying at Angliss' Melbourne campus and working at a pub located 350kms away in the regional town of Casterton.

"The town and the lifestyle of Victoria's countryside were exactly what me and Milena were looking for," said Bruno.

When the opportunity arose to re-open a local Casterton eatery, Say Grace Café & Bistro, Bruno and Milena couldn't resist the opportunity. Less than three months after taking over the business, the couple welcomed customers back onto the premises.

"Previously I had great experiences and really bad ones working in the industry so now I try to put a lot of love and hard work into Say Grace," said Bruno.

With the former lawyer working as the eatery's chef and barista, Milena manages front-of-house and also makes coffee. The admin load is shared between the two of them. It's now been more than a year since the business re-opened, and last month, the Glenelg Shire Council presented Say Grace with a Business & Tourism Award.

"The award is the recognition of a year of hard work," said Bruno. "Me and my wife spent days and nights turning our café into an attractive business."

While serving a 'Melbourne standard coffee' is central to the ethos of Say Grace, the eatery also has a strong focus on homestyle cooking. The menu includes a Brazilian cheese bread known as Pão de Queijo and traditional country fare such as soups, casseroles and cakes.

"Being in a country town, our homemade chunky beef and red wine pie is by far our best seller," said Bruno. "People travel long distances to get their hands on one."