Otis Armada was conceived in 2014 by a group of Melbourne based stomachs who are committed to exploring, re-contextualising and celebrating the ritualistic aspects of communal dining. Pairing thoughtfully curated food, wine, music and installation art together, Otis Armada creates bootleg dining experiences which honor engaging service, artistic collaboration and most of all creative eating.
What is Otis Armada
With any Otis Armada event we strive to be the antidote to rigid hospitality; which despite its intentions, restricts the unpredictable nature of a good feast with friends. Our events aim to give rise to an inspection of food that ultimately lets people feel confident to embrace the new. Whether that's a new location, a new cuisine or a new approach; at Otis we believe no food is sacred and that communal eating is the perfect battleground for pushing important ideas.
With each Otis Armada event there is a theme that envelopes the entire feast. Pricking each sense, all elements engage a concept far beyond standard hospitality. Whether it’s an architectural movement or a specific animal, we look everywhere but the restaurant for inspiration.
For private events or partnerships contact via email
Previous project partners
Brooks & Amos
COCO and MAXIMILIAN
The Creators Project
Hunted + Gathered
North Brooklyn Farms
Open House Melbourne
Tools of the trade
‘Tit for tat, butter for fat, if you kick my dog, ill kick your cat’ Nick Zeki, Student 1987.
Textbook Otis brought back to life the creaky halls of the Collingwood Technical College (1912-1987) for a final school time lunch. A gym bag full of 80’s ozzy quirk, school kid buggery and industry inspirations. The curriculum clanged together food, art and music of the era. A meal riddled with enjoyment, employment and education. Under school motto banners reading ‘Mens Sana in Corpore Sang” (a healthy mind in a healthy body) we encouraged our cohort to play within an old school hall and leafy courtyard. Like good pupils they were all wilfully obliging.
We welcomed guests into the yard with bountiful lunch boxes brimming with hand crafted snacks by Pete Cooksley and Matthew Binney, our two head chefs. To wash it all down 'Just Juice' bottles were spiked with a skin contact Pinot Gris created by Jordy Kay for the event. After some sun and play our class of 2017 looked to be fading so with a ring of the lunch bell they were ushered into the canteen to begin feasting. Baine-maries bubbled with a school lunch of a terribly low rent yet utterly high-distinction: house made cured meats, prawn cocktail, roast chicken, eggplant parmigiana, waldorf salad and crudités bulked up our the tuck shop. Funnily enough, horseplay ensued with the next beverage (Patrick Sullivan) coming out of wonderfully generous goon bags, poured direct into glasses not mouths of course.
Plied full of hard working food and drink, the class were then released back out into the courtyard to the hiccuping sounds of the junior Darebin City Brass Band, led by Jack Kelly a former student, teacher and alum of Collingwood Tech. Amongst swaying felt banners created with Gabriel Cole, guests collected on long tables sprawling where rude messages had seen some scrawling. School cook Pete Cooksley who earnt his colours in fire play at Embla threw down lovely pieces of beef flank, whole squid and half cos lettuces in line for the burnt caesar salad. Then a marching band of cauliflower steaks, chimichurri, horseradish butter, hearby beans and leafy salads ascend before the proteins were plucked off the grill and dispersed accordingly. The class saw out the year with great jest, humming along to a soundtrack collaged by Guy Blackman of Chapter Records. A quick school snap and they were sent on there way with no dilly dallying.
Saturday 9th December
Sunday 10th December
Collingwood Technical College
35 Johnston St, Collingwood
food + booze (tuck shop and seated)
2 sittings of 70
This event was supported by the Collingwood Arts Precinct (CAP)
Guy Blackman Chapter Music
Darebin City Brass Band (live) led by Jack Kelly
Campaign photography: Ben Clement
Event photography: Ben Clement, Lauren Dunn
Brand identity: Gabriel Cole
Felt banners: Gabriel Cole, Matilda Rutherford
Aprons: Jayden Trifunovic
Custom table legs: Steelotto
Custom table tops: Cosmo Feltham, Ben Jones, Elle Ross, Flossy, PSP
Refreshments: Jordy Kay, Capi, Assembly Coffee
Menu prints: Dawn Press
Otis NYC What a croc!
Just like alligators and crocodiles, American and Australian cuisine share so much yet are completely different beasts. Otis! What a Croc! will dredged up from murky waters unique cultural tidbits which were palatably, audibly and visually crucial to each country. A mouthful of culture shock highlighting the treasures and tragedies of two edible allies.
Yet just alike the prehistoric reptiles themselves the dichotomy wasn't so stark so we enlisted the amazing chef’s of North Brooklyn Farms. On site at their inner city plod they grew and composed a menu of Americanisms that would strike a chord with both locals and curious investigators. Shaded only by the Williamsburg Bridge we welcomed guests with a cold glass of Swamp Juice, a rosie blend created for the event by Chapter Wine and Otis, handing them a bag of fritos to fill with ingredients for their ‘walking taco’. Three long tables adorned with lively swamp table bays designed by italo crocs Mathery Studio were poised with big bottles of Australian natural wine. As the sun started to set over Manhattan we seated guest amidst a soundtrack of grumbling frogs, distant croc roars and improvised keys by Mark Chu.
First course was a self-deprecatingly sophisticated dish, Kale 12-Ways. Otis and NBKF staff united with by patent ‘croc’ leather aprons, then marched food to guest waiting by the river. The next course, a TV Dinner with individual trays and croc tongs, saw the fall of dusk and generous pouring of scaley Australian wine. Whilst there wasn't any real gators around there was plenty of gnashing and rolling about. Far from home, this Otis was a credit to all the people who had faith in our chops and the guests who embraced the moments of frivolity.
MPL (field recordings, selections and samples) & Mark Chu (improvised piano)
For the bloody minded
Otis. Brutal. channeled the Brutalist’s triumphant indifference to commonality. A deliberate ousting from conventional ideas of beauty. Brutalism has always sparked vehement debate about the necessity and/or irrelevance of aesthetics. A debate which Otis Armada was determined to bring back to the surface. Otis.Brutal. reclaimed the core elements of food, art, wine and music by avoiding superficiality – honing in on elements that happily triumphed in discordance with the norm. Over six carefully curated sittings the Brutalists delivered a raw barrage of gratifying food, art, music and wine.
Guests were led from the street through the Brutalist facade of the venue to a vacant textile factory where the brutalist fare ensued. Once seated in immovably solid rows, guests were presented with a standard issue prison tray for their first course: cold cut meats, sloe berry jam, cultured butter and grilled chicken hearts served alongside handmade dry crackers. The courses that followed showcased Chef Ali Currey-Voumard's(The Agrarian Kitchen) brutal expression of local produce paired with an entirely organic natural wine list written and beaconed by Campbell Burton. The result was a culinary fare that both challenged the norm of dainty food delivery whilst comforting diners with relatable and traversable flavours.
From the wearable napkins to the synchronised service, a comfortable control was imposed throughout the feast. A Brutalist's utopia allowed people to learn about Brutalism and engage with dining in a completely new way. Otis.Brutal. deprived guests of non-essential niceties, heightening their appreciation for the basics and arresting their attention. Function was everything – durable tarp aprons designed for Freitag, heavy duty tables and chairs designed for the event and a menu which listed every single ingredient. Each guest received forged steel knives specifically created for the pork course which was carved in the center of the space for immediate dispatch. Throughout the sittings a generous barrage of unfussy food and wine ensued, whilst bespoke soundtracks matched the meat.
122 Roseneath Street, Clifton Hill
5 courses + snacks + beverages
6 x sold out sittings of 50
Hors d’oeuvres: Alex Albrecht/ Julian Cairns
Bread service: A.r.t. Wilson
Wet course: Francis Inferno Orchestra
The Pig: Tamil Rogeon / Otis Armada
Cheese / Pudding: Elliot Munn & Gregor
Otis Brutal playlist
Campaign photography: Phebe Schmidt
Event photography: Ben Clement, Nadeemy Beetros
Event film documentation: Caity Shannon, Freya Esders
Identity: Lloyd Mst
Wearable napkins: Macmillian-Yenn
Apron design: PSP
Take-home knife: PSP & John Hall
Coding: Sam Hains
Play With your food
Otis Spring celebrated the most affable aspects of both childhood and adulthood. Held in a light-filled small-goods factory, the OA team served up an open-ended banquet of joyous offerings centered around a four course feast created by Clayton Wells (Automata, Momofuku Seibo). Wells delivered a menu which like the feast, was hard to pigeon hole yet vivid in colour and playful in flavour. Fermented cherries, Hapuka under a blanket of seaweed, clear pork broth live with edible flowers. Each sitting saw a most artful mix of snacks such as salt and vinegar fish skins, eccentric wines poured by our frivolous booze teachers and a live mixed soundtracks we are still listening to.
The underlying theme of Otis Spring ‘Play with your food’ sought to channel those all-too-often suppressed urges of mess-making and childhood play. Custom built communal tables lined with sketch paper and wonky ceramic cups evoked feelings of being at the kid’s table, whilst guest wine guy Ned Brooks (Moonpark, Brooks and Amos) embraced adulthood as he free poured a selection of small-batch beverages, scrawling their names largely onto the tables with hand gripped crayons.
At the end of lunch, guests were invited to sip on a digestive tonic inside the industrial refrigerator room that housed an installation of six films by COCO and MAXIMILIAN. Otis Armada Spring was a true slew of edible and interactive art. An afternoon of sophisticated springtime flavours, childhood nostalgia and most of all a triumphant tabletop mess.
68 Gwynne St, Cremorne
5 course + snacks + beverages
3 x sittings of 40
The first feast
The Winter of 2014 saw Otis Armada give birth to the first in a series of seasonal bootleg dining experiences in Melbourne. To fight the cold this event channeled feelings of bacchanalian gatherings, Rothschild’s surrealist dinner parties and gluttony. Over two nights in July, the Otis Armada team served up a brilliant composition of considered music, small batch wines, installation art and a ten-course winter feast that encapsulated all the warmth and amity of the season.
The dinners were held in a retired motorcycle workshop in Carlton where guests gorged communally under the ambience of a six-meter long hand stitched tent. Each course was delivered in unison to pieces of specifically composed music reflecting the dish’s produce and temperament. As a the duck left the pass and flew onto the floor, a crescendoe of duck noises arrested our guests before drifting off into their subconscious.
The creative team worked closely with head chef Ali Currey-Voumard (The Agrarian Kitchen), Moon Under Water) and Pete Cooksley (Embla, Supernormal) to fortify aspects of the Macabre style menu. For example, two hundred resin cast bullion bricks in hues of duck blood sauce were created. Each guest left the event with a unique red bullion embossed with 'Otis Armada' making the main course of ten-day-aged-duck and steel cut oats a centrepiece not to forget.
4 x sittings of 30