In a nutshell, I started in Brescia, in Italy’s north, working at Carlo Magno with the famous Iginio Massari and Giuseppe Maffioli. After working in various Michelin starred venues such as La Rotonde in France and the two Michelin-starred Villa Fiordaliso on Lake Garda, I then worked in Bermuda at the Restaurant Lido before moving to Sydney in 2003. I fell in love with an Aussie girl and that was that, I stayed! I assumed the role of executive Chef at Park Hyatt Sydney in 2005, managing a team of over 30 chefs before finally realising my dream of opening my own restaurant at the Spit, Mosman in 2009. Getting that first chef hat was such a buzz!
I’ve now got another two restaurants – a traditional Italian trattoria called Via Alta in Willoughby, and a casual waterside diner inspired by Italian street food called Chiosco By Ormeggio.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
As a child, I used to love watching my grandmother cook. She was tremendous and is one of my biggest inspirations to date. I learnt so much from her and I still use some of her techniques in my cooking today. She made me want to cook as I saw how much cooking can bring people together.
How would you define your style?
My health is very important. I cook with the freshest seafood and produce available. A lot of my produce is sourced locally so it is as fresh, ripe and flavoursome as it can be. I also like to keep a lot of my dressings and sauces simple so that it doesn’t mask the flavour of the dish and I use a lot of fresh herbs and spices as seasonings. I love cooking with a lot of fresh foods to keep my dishes fairly light. I love cooking with my team, all bouncing ideas off of each other. I love the challenge of doing contemporary beautiful Italian cuisine, using traditional flavours and ingredients and reinventing them to surprise and delight the diner.
But I also love that hearty, traditional, simple mountain food of my childhood, cooking big cuts of meat on charcoal, stirring huge pots of polenta – in this case my style would not be as elegant as it is at Ormeggio!
Obsessive Compulsive About?
Adding salt! Tasting as I go!
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
I do like to keep up to date with food news and events in the media. I enjoy reading about the industry and new technologies or restaurant openings and what other chefs get up to, what recipes they share. As a fellow chef, I find the culinary industry very fascinating and I would never want to be out of touch with it.
I am inspired from the number of phenomenal Italian chefs out there. I have been very fortunate to study under some amazing talent like Fredric Bourse, Luigi Biasetto and Achille Zoia.
The quality of Australia’s seafood and fresh produce is also a huge inspiration to me. We are so lucky in this country to be exposed to such delicious and flavoursome local foods.
My team. They are all so incredible and inspiring. I’m never so proud as when we are sitting together brainstorming menus and ideas and I look around and see so much talent and passion!
Most “eyebrow raising” menu item?
I had an incredible dish using wallaby meat on Ormeggio’s menu a while ago. “Flinders island wallaby battuta - watermelon rind - amaranth - chorizo powder.” Battuta means raw, it was basically a wallaby tartare. It really freaked some guests out but when they tasted it, wow!
Right now it would have to be Ormeggio’s contemporary take on the classic “Vitello Tonnato”. Veal tonnato is a typical dish from Piedmont which is thinly sliced poached veal covered with a lot of tuna mayonnaise. This is our contemporary interpretation. Biodynamic veal from NSW’s north coast is served raw, dressed with shallots, EVOO, salt, anchovy dressing and chives. It’s so elegant and beautiful and surprising and delicious. It just totally embodies what we do at Ormeggio at The Spit.
Ormeggio at The Spit, one of Australia’s most progressive Italian restaurants since opening in 2009, has relaunched this June 2020 with an entirely new concept, look and feel. This buzzy Mosman seafood restaurant now sports a beautiful cocktail and gelato bar centre stage; with a casual yet refined neutral and natural colour scheme, with pops of colour and texture. Expect high-quality sustainable seafood, great cocktails, fun desserts and knockout water views; from Ormeggio 2.0’s completely meat-free, a la carte menu, complemented by a regularly changing Chef’s picks sharing menu. Get ready for some very unique and delicious speciality dishes such as Pavoni risotto, tuna cotoletta and crudo crostini; don’t forget to finish with a coppa gelato – Italy’s answer to the ice cream sundae.