Martini is an award-winning chef, restaurateur, author and television presenter. Her food message is drawn from her professional cooking career, Tunisian-Italian heritage and from the challenges of feeding nutritious and stimulating food to her family.
In 2021 Martini joined forces with Michael Gebran to open her brand-new restaurant Hero in Melbourne’s iconic ACMI building, as part of Hospitality M – where Karen takes the role of founding partner, creative food director and chef. She was also 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, Martini and her partner Michael opened St Kilda’s much-loved pizzeria mr. wolf, which they stepped back from and sold in 2021.
Martini’s contribution to print media has included roles as food editor for Fairfax’s Sunday Life Magazine and Epicure/Good Living liftout for several years. In 2019 she returned to the paper as a food columnist for the Good Weekend magazine supplement.
A comprehensive cookbook collection is also among Martini’s achievements. It includes Salads & Vegetables, New Kitchen, Home, Everyday, The Karen Martini Collection, Feasting, Cooking at Home and Where the Heart Is, plus her largest book to date, the 2022 release COOK: The Only Book You Need in the Kitchen. In this deeply personal publication, six years in the making, Martini shares a lifetime of cooking, eating and learning about food.
For over a decade Martini has been resident chef on Australia’s longest running lifestyle television series Better Homes and Gardens, along the way sharing in seven consecutive Logie Awards. She also appeared as a judge on Seven’s reality cooking program My Kitchen Rules and co-hosted three series of The Intolerant Cooks. Other television credits include Lifestyle Café for The Lifestyle Channel and Guide to a Classic Christmas, alongside Curtis Stone on Seven, which was shot in her home and saw the pair share recipes for their modern take on Christmas traditions.