The Appellation team

Ryan Edwards Ryan Edwards

Executive Chef

Ryan grew up on a small mixed farm just outside Lyndoch, here in the Barossa Valley. He has a genuine connection to the land and a love of real food and food traditions. Originally studying engineering, he then switched in his final year to a career that had become his passion and went on to complete a cookery apprenticeship.  He continued to broaden his experience through working in deluxe resorts in far North Queensland and the Gold Coast before returning to the Barossa in 2004 eventually joining the team at Appellation in 2008.

He brings to the team a positive, nurturing, can-do attitude, and his hands on approach to maintaining old food ways can be clearly seen in his passion for brewing, baking and generally following a philosophy that sees ethical eating, low food miles, and the sustainability of food resources as central to good food at any level.

Alicia Stiesch Alicia Stiesch

Head Chef

One of the brightest smiling faces behind the kitchen doors at Appellation belongs to the very vibrant Alicia Stiesch, Appellation’s head chef. Born into a RAAF family Alicia has enjoyed a life of travel both within Australia and internationally. And her own wanderlust has seen her travelling her way through various parts of South Australia including a stint onboard the P.S. Murray Princess, chef work at notable cafés and winery restaurants as well as working alongside leading SA chefs, all the while completing her commercial cookery studies. She also worked her chef magic in Canada for a number of months and used the time away from Australia for more travel and discovery through Europe.

Upon return to our shores Alicia took up a role in Appellation’s kitchen, and at 26 earned herself some more cred when coming South Australian runner up in the esteemed 2009 Chaines de Rotisseurs for young chefs. She attributes her interest in cooking (and her sweet tooth) to her grandmothers – one of German origin, whose delights Alicia is often reminded of by the traditional foods of the Barossa Valley. And her nana of Irish decent where feasts of delicious cakes, sweets and handmade chocolates were enjoyed at Christmas time. In true modern-day style, Alicia looks forward to cementing her stake in the local food community, excited by its vitality, spirit and vigour.  There is no doubt that Alicia loves what she does and her intuitive, positive nature shines through the team she leads and the food she makes with heart.

Peter Little Peter Little

Director of Food and Beverage

Seeking the calm and quiet of a country life, Peter and his partner moved to the Barossa from Melbourne and hit it off with the locals immediately, mostly due to Peter’s friendly nature and natural affiliation with a land and its people.  Studying hotel management in Queensland and with a traineeship under his belt Peter was head-hunted for roles in wine list development as well as serious management roles and training for a number of busy Melbourne food and wine outlets. His most recent post was at La Luna Bistro in Melbourne. A keen gardener and all round nice guy, he loves to cook for his partner Beck and friends imparting his enthusiasm for good wine, food shared and a good laugh. His infectious positive attitude makes him a natural leader for the front of house team.

Melissa Beer Melissa Beer

Restaurant Manager

Mel grew up in the hot orange oasis and river country of Mildura.  After some time and dollars invested in study of print media Mel graduated and found herself in her first management role at 21, in an industry completely un-related to her study – hospitality. In her own words she “fell in love with the lifestyle and charms of the industry, the enthusiasm for food and wine”. Mel managed several Melbourne restaurants and dabbled in event and wedding co-ordination until trading the city life for island life, making a dramatic sea change to fellow Luxury Lodge of Australia property Southern Ocean Lodge, in restaurant manager capacity. There she realised her penchant and aptitude for managing restaurants at a high level and her next move was to the Blue Mountains Wolgan Valley resort.

Hungry to experience the diversity of Australian landscapes, Mel headed to the coasts of the Mornington Peninsular before making the move to the Barossa Valley. Although there be not many a drop in sight of Mel’s favourite wine style – Chardonnay – we are certain that the charm of the rich, unique and fine wines of Barossa, along with the gorgeous vinescapes, and genuine local hospitality, Mel will be hooked.

Cassaly Fitzgerald Cassaly Fitzgerald

Sommelier/Assistant Restaurant Manager

A hospitality professional, Cass joined Appellation in 2008 and has been part of the key front-of-house team ever since. A Barossan local through and through, Cass grew up in the glorious altitudes of the beautiful Eden Valley and helped her parents run the well-known local pub. Her previous roles in the industry have included front-of-house stints at local wineries and restaurants as well as time as a chef at a local bistro. And even within the Appellation surrounds she has been involved in several facets of the restaurant at a management level, with her current role supervising the daily running of Appellation as well as guiding Appellation’s award-winning wine list.

Naturally curious and studious by nature, Cass has a number of educational achievements under her belt. These include Court of Master Sommeliers wine certificate, WSET certificate,  participation in the Negociants ‘Working with Wine Fellowship” and one not to shy away from a challenge she currently studies Business Management (when she’s not squirreling about in Appellation’s 500-strong wine cellar). Aside from travel, baking and time with her husband, animals and friends, Cass’s aim is to embrace all opportunities and challenges. And we think she does a pretty good job of it!