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.
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.
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.
A native of Johannesburg, Christuan Jordaan’s childhood memories revolve around family meals cooked on the braai (BBQ). Whilst his father taught him to hunt and how to cook with open fire, it was his mother and grandmother who ignited his passion for pastry and desserts. From the kitchens of South Africa and a stint in London that laid the foundation for his Italian style of cooking, he was drawn to Sydney and Popolo. Now, his cooking style draws inspiration from the Italian way of life – he immerses himself in owner Flavio Carnevale and Sous Chef Stefano Gaspa’s traditions, values and passion for food leading an all Italian chef team proudly producing authentic modern rustic dishes.
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.
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.
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.
Gabriele Taddeucci has been at the helm of Balla since it opened at the star in 2011. Hailing from the Tuscan city of Lucca, near Florence, Gabriele is a passionate Italian chef who began his culinary career more than two decades ago as a pizza-hand. After honing his skills in the kitchens of Italy, followed by a stint in London with Giorgio Locatelli, and at the age of 25 he set his focus on Australia. From managing at the Mosaic Restaurant, helping open Uccello to being appointed Head Chef at The Beresford Hotel, Gabriele’s love for the traditional regional cuisine of his homeland – in spite of his being diagnosed with coeliac disease – and passion for seasonally-focused fresh produce is evident in his menu at Balla.
Andrew Cibej has grown his burgeoning food empire by focusing on freshness, simplicity and the food of his ancestral country, Italy, especially the region of Friuli. In 1999, after working at Tetsuya’s in Rozelle, Andrew went to Italy and ran restaurants in Florence and Rome. He believes that his time in Italy, allowed him to learn the true colour and flavour of the the food and the essence of the culture, which is what Vini, Berta, 121BC and now Bacco Osteria e Espresso – his latest venture with Steve and John Anastasiou, of China Doll.
Scott Williams already had a keen love for the food and culture of Spain but it was a copy of the Movida cookbook that he received as a gift that convinced him to be a chef. From cold calling Frank Camorra at age 22 to becoming Head Chef when Movida arrived in Sydney, the trajectory appears to be straight as an arrow. That is, until he joined forced with Andrew Cibej and turned his knife to la cucina Italiana where he is now Head Chef at Bacco Osteria e Espresso.
Stefano Manfredi has made his mark as chef, restaurateur and successful cookbook and food writer. With the opening of his first restaurant in Sydney in 1983, Restaurant Manfredi, he transformed the way Italian cuisine was perceived in Australia. For the past decade, Stefano has taken small groups on culinary and cultural tours to the regions of Italy, which has inspired the six books published about food and cooking, the most recent being New Pizza. Both in and out of his restaurants, including Pizzapera with Head Chef Gianluca Donnezelli, he remains a passionate advocate for local, sustainable and seasonal produce.
Pizza is in the DNA of all Neapolitans so it is fitting Napoli born chef, Gianluca Donzelli is the head pizzaiolo at Pizzaperta. In the Pizzaperta kitchen, Gianluca shares his hometown traditions and expertise acquired from years of pizza making. Gianluca discovered his love of cooking as a child where he enjoyed being around the kitchens of his mother and grandmother, and later of his friend and mentor Gabriele Taddeucci in the kitchen of Balla. Gianluca is an Ambassador of Neapolitan Pizza and Culture in Australia and also an International pizza Master Instructor, certified by the Accademia Pizzaioli Italiani.
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.
Joanna Savill has spent a fair amount of her life in Italy, as a student, translator, journalist and food festival goer (with frequent side-trips to the in-laws in Lombardy). Her food and wine career encompasses books and restaurant guides, articles, TV shows, events and living with a former chef turned wine-nerd from Lombardy.