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Brent Arena
Brent Arena

Brent Arena

Born:  Mt Isa 

History:  I began by undertaking an apprenticeship in Townsville, moving to Hamilton Island where I completed it at Romanos, an Italian restaurant. There I learnt the fundamentals of Italian cuisine before finding myself moving to New Zealand to have a little time off cooking.  Having the time off led to more of a passion to learn as much about food as I possibly could. 

Back on Hamilton Island, I started working at Qualia with a range of top chefs coming to host functions.  Picking up inspiration from everyone I had met, a spark of ambition hit and I headed to London to work in Michelin starred restaurant, L’Autre Pied.

After learning as much as I could there, I joined the Yachts of Seabourn to cruise Europe and Asia, looking at all of the top rated restaurants in my ports.  Back to the calling of Qualia, I then returned to Hamilton Island.  I am now putting together all I have learnt to showcase at Giardini by Brent Arena.

Have you always wanted to be a Chef?

Cooking was something that I had fallen into at high school, when I started washing dishes after school to earn a little money.  The inspiration of everyone whom I've had the chance to work with, and also the 3 Michelin star chefs from around the world, would give me the ambition and love of cooking that I have today, to open up and showcase what food means to me today. 

How would you define your style? 

I would have to say that I don’t have one particular style but am currently preparing dishes that have an authentic Italian origin with a modern Australian twist.

What is your feature flavour these days? 

Featuring everything that is local, coming up with a special each week to showcase Queensland produce.  Not only to show what I can do, but to also treat my suppliers' produce with the respect it deserves. 

Obsessive compulsive about?

Freshness, local produce and the cooking techniques I like to use.

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences?

Coming from an Italian background, my nonna, nonno and dad taught me from a young age what the Italian food culture really is, from walking inside the house to being greeted with a table full of food, drinks and great company.  This would have to be the foundation of my food today.  

Also having the chance to work alongside all of Australia’s top chefs.  Watching, reading and dining in restaurants around the world would have to be the biggest influence on my cooking. 

What do you love about this business? 

Giardini offers not only great Italian food, but with the specials changing weekly, it is about showcasing food from Queensland.

An ingredient you can’t live without? 

To narrow it down, it would have to be salt, basil, tomatoes, garlic ... and everything that is fresh.

Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item? 

Every week you will see a new eyebrow raiser on my menu in the form of my special.

Signature dish?

You might have to come in and decide for yourself.