Chef, restauranteur, mentor, author, brand ambassador, cyclist … Giovanni Pilu is many things but it all comes back to his passion for food. Sardinian born Pilu believes that Italian cooking, should involve simple ingredients, prepared with a minimum of fuss, allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves. At Pilu at Freshwater, Giovanni uses authentic products imported from across Italy, together with fresh local produce, presenting a menu that is refined and innovative whilst maintaining the strict traditions of the cuisine of his island home. He lists his priorities in life (in the order): family, cooking and bike riding.
Brescian born Alessandro Pavoni honed his skills in some of Europe’s Michelin starred kitchens before moving to Sydney in 2003. His debut in 2009 gave rise to Ormeggio at the Spit in Mosman which was an instant success. Contemporary flavours, techniques and textures are the focus at Ormeggio, which is one of Sydney’s premier waterside dining destinations. He has also opened Ormeggio Bakery in 2014; Chiosco by Ormeggio, a seaside trattoria in Mosman; and Via Alta, a trattoria in Willoughby. Alessandro has also co-authored A Lombardian Cookbook showcasing traditional recipes and flavours from his Italian home.
Armando Percuoco was born in Naples into a family of restaurateurs in post war Italy. His early years as a chef were grounded in fine restaurants in Naples and on the Isle of Capri. He opened the doors of Buon Ricordo in 1987 which has remained at the forefront of Italian cuisine in Sydney. Armando’s passion has also extended to support charities such as Starlight Foundation, Prostate Cancer Foundation and is a patron of the Sydney Theatre Company and Sculpture by the Sea to name a few.
Sicilian chef Francesco Spataro brings his authentic Neapolitan style pizza to guests at Aperitivo, a local Norton Street restaurant recently voted in the Top 30 pizzerias worldwide serving Vera Pizza Napoletana. Francesco’s passion in making and promoting traditional Neapolitan style pizza has seen him awarded accreditation into the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. In the 2014 World Pizza Championships held in Parma, Italy, Francesco finished in 17th place in the strict Napoletana STG category – a testament to his pizza making flair.
Chef, cook book author, olive oil expert and wine merchant, Nino Zoccali has a career that spans many acclaimed culinary and hospitality achievements. His restaurants The Restaurant Pendolino and La Rosa in Sydney’s historic Strand Arcade have brought a new level of sophistication to Italian dining in this country. He is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost experts on Olive Oil . Nino has a dedicated Olioteca (olive oil store) in The Restaurant Pendolino which showcases a range of world class Australian premium extra virgin olive oils.
Celebrated chef Federico Zanellato began his career working in top restaurants in Europe and trained at Ryugin in Tokyo developing his passion for Japanese food. He eventually made Australia home, becoming Head Chef of Ormeggio at the Spit securing two Chef Hats during his four year tenure. He also participated in a restaurant exchange program at Noma and Attica, providing further inspiration for his food vision. The stunning LuMi Dining And Bar in Pyrmont is Zanellato’s first restaurant venture and has become a dining destination for Sydney siders.
Food Wine Travel Journalist/Author Roberta Muir is an Italian at heart, if not by birth. Her passion for food, wine, languages and foreign cultures has inspired adventures in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, North America and central and south-east Asia. She produces a loved weekly Food Wine Travel e-newsletter which features simple recipes (many of them Italian) and Top 5 lists on restaurants, beverages and great travel destinations.
Pat Nourse is the chief restaurant critic and deputy editor of Gourmet Traveller. He heads the voting panel in Australia for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and has written about food for a variety of international publications. Last time he was in Rome he ate a pasta carbonara every day for a week.
Luca Ciano, born and raised in Milan has had a stellar career as a chef in Milan, London and Sydney. He’s a celebrated pasta maker and started Casa Barilla cooking school. Based on regional Italian gastronomy, showcasing the breadth of Italy’s cuisine, he has shared this concept around Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Luca is a contributor for the Australian BBC Good Food Magazine and consults for restaurants, magazines and Italian brands in Australia and around the world.
Matteo Zamboni has worked in Michelin starred venues all over the world and is soon to be the executive chef and owner of Zambo Restaurant situated in the old Marque restaurant site, in Surry Hills. He’s worked at the Quay alongside chef Peter Gilmore and at the two hatted Ormeggio at the Spit in Mosman, and was Head Chef at Pilu at Freshwater. At 31 years of age, he is looking forward to venturing out on his own, showcasing Italian contemporary cuisine flavoured by the spirit of his adopted country.
Liguria born Lucio Galleto’s reputation for great northern Italian cuisine and hospitality have made his restaurant a favourite with some of Australia’s best-known artists, including Martin Sharp with artworks by John Olsen gracing the menu covers. Lucio says of his restaurant: ‘We follow the season, not the fashion’. Lucio’s pasta is made in-house daily and is always served simply, and Liguria’s famous olive oil are represented at dessert time with a superb hazelnut and chocolate pudding with olive oil ice cream and candied orange.
Sicilian restaurateur Carmel Ruggeri’s passion for food and effervescent personality has produced two successful Sydney restaurants and a thriving Sicilian Food Tours company. Her current venture, a café called Carmel’s holds pop-up nights for chefs and wineries from around Australia. Carmel’s base for her tours is Scoglitti in the province of Ragusa in south-eastern Sicily, the small fishing village where her parents were born. People come from all over the world to experience a taste of Sicily with her as their guide.
Richard Ptacnik is Otto’s executive chef, joining them in 2003 having worked with some of Europe’s great chefs in Berlin, Switzerland and his native Prague. His food style is unashamedly simple – modern Italian with roots firmly placed in the classics. For many it has come for many to signify the quintessential Sydney cuisine; fresh, seasonal, produce-driven, sourcing the finest ingredients and letting them speak for themselves.
Born in Tasmania, Massimo Mele spent his childhood in Naples. He committed to a career in the kitchen in his late teens working in notable Hobart and Melbourne restaurants and was awarded the Lexus Young Chef of the Year Award. After returning from the Amalfi Coast, he worked with Hugo’s Group kitchens in Sydney and La Scala on Jersey. There were regular appearances on TV, awards, and trips overseas to cook for dignitaries and divas, Massimo now divides his time between his home in Tasmania and Sydney, where he’s opening a new restaurant in the Sydney CBD.
Adelaide chef Adam Swanson best know for his tv appearances and ads opened Lot. 1 Sydney, a 400-seater cafe and restaurant in York St, in the CBD earlier this year. Last year the 35-year-old was awarded Restaurant and Catering’s young achiever award, speaks fondly of his space, which we will be offering traditional Italian affair, but with modern twists. The chef has heavy southern European influences in his cooking, with an Italian mother, and a Greek wife and work in the family cheese business and is keen to bring back his Nonna’s food with his way of cooking it.