Camperdown, Sydney, Australia
My passion for cooking and all things food started at home. Raised in a traditional Italian family, my passion came from helping my Mum with cooking, be it for family dinner or cooking for a family function. While at school at the age of 16, I started working in restaurants on the weekend. After finishing school, I attended Ryde TAFE, completing the Commercial Cookery Course. After completing the course, I commenced my Chef career working at Limoncello Ristorante in Bay Street, Double Bay. I have also had the opportunity to work at other restaurants and cafés such as La Galleria and Martini Bar in Leichhardt, Lanzafame in Haberfield, The Strand in Croydon and Espresso on Dover in Rose Bay, all giving me the opportunity to work with a variety of renowned Chefs from around the world and different kitchen staff from all walks of life.
It was working in these venues that my passion grew even more and my ambition to one day own my own place became a goal. I would like to think that I am a Chef that thinks outside the box. I always try to improve in all that I do from adding a new ingredient to a dish or changing the presentation; the intrigue and commitment to creating a new dish, is what I find rewarding. I would also like to think that I push boundaries in my methods of cooking. For example, a traditional Italian breakfast is Uovo Cotte (Baked Eggs) which is eggs cooked in a Napolitana sauce and over time, I have created six versions for the menu and continually create different types for seasonal versions for promotion. Examples of the different types I have created are Uovo Porcini which has porcini mushroom in a white sauce infused with black truffle or the Uovo Ricotta and Spinach which is baked eggs in warm ricotta and spinach.
I am a traditionalist at heart; however, I often bring a very modern twist to my food. Family is also a big part of what makes me the Chef I am. Knowing I have their support doesn’t make me feel fearless in trying new things or stepping out of the box.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
Yes. I have always had a love and passion for food. Growing up, cooking with my Mum, I knew early on that cooking was for me.
How would you define your style?
Traditional Italian with a twist.
What is your feature flavour these days?
Maintaining a high quality of produce, creations of new dishes and presentation and keeping things in order in the kitchen.
Your greatest culinary influence:
Would have to be my Mum!
What do you love about your business?
Knowing that my family work with me in the business (my wife, brother and nephews all work at Cucina Espresso) and the joy of customers experiencing the food at the café.
Any ingredient you can’t live without?
Eggs! They're the main ingredient in my breakfast menu.
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
Uovo Cotte (Baked Eggs). It’s the traditional Italian breakfast and over time I have developed new versions of it by infusing different flavours.
The Breakfast Arancini. I have created arancini infused with truffle and porcini mushroom containing a soft poached egg ideal for breakfast.
Bringing a slice of Italy to Concord, Cucina Espresso has a loyal local brunch following for serving up surprising and satisfying café fare. Located on Majors Bay Road, take a seat by the bifold front windows and people watch while sipping an aromatic brew, or relax further inside where a stacked stone half wall and monochrome prints of Italian landmarks set the tone for leisurely lunches. Expect authentic Italian dishes on a menu utilising the freshest ingredients, such as breakfast tempters of housemade rice potato croquette, topped with smoked salmon, poached eggs and lime infused hollandaise sauce. The lunch crowd delves into the likes of spaghetti with blue swimmer crab, roma tomato and parsley, in a rose sauce garnished with wild rocket, washed down with a glass of Chardonnay.