You’d be hard-pressed to find a chef who's more committed to the idea of ‘hospitality’ than Shane Delia, who has the word tattooed on his upper arm. ‘Fortis et hospitalis’, or ‘strength and hospitality' is the Delia family motto, brought to Australia by Shane’s father who migrated here from Malta in 1970. And it’s the guiding principle that Shane follows in his professional and personal life.
14 Aug 2014 - 10:18 AM  UPDATED 20 Dec 2017 - 11:42 AM

Family is so central to Shane’s existence that his award-winning restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD is named after his wife, Maha (and his daughter's name, Jayda, is tattooed in Arabic-style script on his forearm). It’s here that he combines the Maltese culinary experience passed on to him by his own family, with the complex Lebanese cuisine taught to him by his wife’s parents, and reinvented with his own highly idiosyncratic flair.

Rather than sit on his laurels, Shane wants to explore and push boundaries. In Shane Delia’s Spice Journey, Shane takes us on a culinary pilgrimage to explore his heritage and discover Middle Eastern food traditions that go back thousands of years.

His journey starts in his homeland, the old Phoenician outpost of Malta, where the aromatics and spices of the Middle East mingle with the European traditions of the Mediterranean to produce a unique food culture. This is the island archipelago where Shane’s love of cooking was born.

Shane then heads across the sea to Lebanon; seat of the ancient Phoenician Empire, original Land of Milk and Honey and the birthplace of contemporary Middle Eastern mezze. Here, Shane experiences the ancient civilisations that shaped the landscape, and left their mark behind in the regional cuisine.

Finally, Shane follows the time-worn caravan trails of the spice route to ancient Persia, aka Iran, home to saffron, pomegranate and rose water. And the oldest surviving recipes on earth. In tearooms, walled gardens and nomad tents, Shane experiences an Iran very different to anything he’d previously imagined.

Inspired by medieval Arab and Persian recipes passed down through generations, as well as simple rural and regional dishes, Shane then heads back to his Melbourne kitchen to put his take on some of the world's most ancient and influential culinary traditions.


Brand-new series Shane Delia's Recipe For Life starts Thursday 11 January at 8pm on SBS, then on SBS On-Demand. You can read recipes and more content from the show here