Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy.
I was born in Sardinia, Italy in 1987 and twenty years ago I started my career as a Chef.
I have clear childhood memories about my passion for cooking, it started at a young age when I used to help my mother prepare family meals.
Dinner was a special family time at my home, we used to sit around the table and share a delicious meal cooked with love and care by my mother, it was pure joy.
My mother is an excellent home cook, I believe she passed on to me the passion for cooking and good food.
As a young kid, I remember going to a little farmers market on Sunday early morning picking the best seasonal ingredients and negotiating for the price, then going back home and she would cook a delicious meal.
Sundays were a kind of celebration with all the family together and good food was always around the table.
As a teenager, I developed an interest in cooking so I decided to join the Culinary College of Oristano, a small city located on the western side of central Sardinia, an area that has stayed natural and more authentic compared to the other cities that have seen a huge touristic influence.
I got into cooking at the age of fourteen at a local seafood Restaurant called ‘Il Faro’, literally meaning ‘The Lighthouse’, a small casual restaurant serving traditional Mediterranean cuisine.
At that time, I was attending TAFE lessons in the mornings and working as a cook/kitchen hand in the evenings.
As a young apprentice I felt in love with being in the kitchen right away, the kitchen was the place where I could feel comfortable, I was mesmerised watching Chefs performing different preparations, moving fast. I liked the energy, the pressure and the adrenaline rush during the peak of a busy dinner service, but also the feeling of being in a team.
I was so fascinated by learning different techniques every day and getting trained and inspired by the senior Chefs.
After finishing my apprenticeship and qualifying as Chef, I worked my way up the ladder in a number of five-star Hotel Restaurants, Michelin-starred restaurants but also casual restaurants, in different positions from Commis Chef to Chef de Partie and Sous Chef, to finally becoming Head Chef.
I was lucky enough to work in several different countries in Europe including: France, Germany, England and Belgium, before arriving in Australia in 2010.
Today my responsibilities as the Head Chef of Balthazar are to source the best local and seasonal ingredients, to work closely with suppliers and artisans, to create dishes that are delicious, creative, contemporary and visually appealing, to stay curious and humble and most importantly to have fun.
How would define your style?
I like to offer simple and creative cuisine, focused on seasonal local produce.
To me, cooking is a journey that puts together memories, flavours, aromas, taking me back to moments I’ve experienced.
What is your feature flavour these days?
I really love the flavour of a native Australian flowering plant the Geraldton wax - zesty with citrus notes and very fragrant.
I enjoy working in a very clean and organised kitchen, I can’t stress to my team enough about the importance of keeping the highest standards of hygiene
Your greatest culinary influence?
Has to be Giovanni Pilu Chef and owner from the two-hatted Restaurant ‘Pilu at Freshwater’ in Sydney, I worked at this restaurant back in 2010 and I learned so much, he’s a great mentor and a true leader in the kitchen.
What do you love about this business?
I love the warm ambience, the beautiful extensive wine list, the delicious seasonal menu that we serve and the attentive service that makes the whole Balthazar experience so special.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
If I have to choose one, it would be EVOO, at the restaurant we use Great Southern Groves EVOO a great produce from a family business in Western Australia.
Most eyebrow-raising menu item?
Probably the kangaroo tenderloin, we serve the meat rare, paired with delicious apricots, smoked goats’ curd and crispy saltbush.
I don’t think we have a signature dish; we have a dish that has stayed on the menu for quite sometime and that is the seafood spaghettini. It is a pasta dish with a fresh selection of market seafood that changes daily, we cook the pasta al dente and we gently poached the seafood in brown fish stock, olive oil and white wine, finishing emulsifying with an egg yolk, grated bottarga and prawn head oil. It’s pretty delicious.
What do you think the past 12 months of COVID has taught Restaurants and chefs about their diners and the industry in general?
We learned that in these very challenging times of the COVID, people’s desire for socialisation and a fun experience at a restaurant will be in conflict with the fear about catching the virus. We were very lucky in Western Australia to have enjoyed a lifestyle that is the envy of the world.
We have successfully operated the restaurant at full capacity in the last 12 months, we are a well-established restaurant renowned for our quality and high standards. We have had a great response from our guests and we kept very busy during these uncertain times of COVID.
We are always ready to come up with new ideas and to adapt our business model in case new rules are applied.
Tell us something no one knows about you?
I have a huge fear of flying, I hate it.
I don’t like being near ledges, or even looking down from a tall building, but it doesn’t stop me from travelling the world to explore and learning about new cultures.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
At the end of the next five years, I want to keep learning and developing my skills as a Chef, I want to keep mentoring and training young generations of Chefs and to give them all the guidance they need for a successful career.