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Alessandro Pavoni went from serving food at a restaurant to head chef – all in a day!
Alessandro hails from Lombardy in northern Italy and knew from a young age that he wanted to be a chef. After working at the Michelin-starred Villa Fiordaliso on the beautiful Lake Garda, Alessandro met an Australian woman and headed to Sydney in 2003. With stints at Luna Blu and Park Hyatt’s harbourkitchen&bar, Alessandro decided to open his own restaurant, naming it Ormeggio, or mooring, as a nod to its enviable position at The Spit.
Where did you grow up?
“I was born in Brescia and grew up in a little town in the mountains close to Lake Garda. This is a region well-known for its beautiful cheeses, freshwater seafood and game animals.”
When did you realise you wanted to be a chef?
“From a young age I used to watch my grandmother cook, and I still draw upon her for inspiration, in my food today. I was about 12 years old when I realised that I wanted to do this as a profession.”
Is there one dish you still struggle to get right?
“I struggle with every dish! I challenge myself every time I cook and keep setting higher standards for myself. I want all my dishes to develop and be better than the last time I cooked it.”
What does it take to be a successful chef?
“Love…if you don’t have love for what you a doing you will never be successful.”
Worst job you have ever had?
“I have never had a ‘worst job.’ I have however had a worst service. It was not long after I had moved to Australia and I had started working in an Italian restaurant in Sydney. It was my first week, I spoke no English and it was Mother’s Day! The kitchen and floor organisation was horrendous…and I could not communicate! Nevertheless the head chef got the sack the next day and I got his job, so I must have been doing something right. “
What is your signature dish?
“Risotto. I always loved to eat risotto and wanted to learn how to make the perfect risotto. I was lucky enough to be taught by one of the best chefs in Italy, Gultiero Marchesi.”
What is unique about your restaurant?
“Ormeggio showcases the food of northern Italy, and not many Italian restaurants in Australia do this. Of course our positioning and picturesque views of The Spit and Middle Harbour also make us unique!”
What is the chef serving in heaven?
“Cotecchino (fatty salami with a texture that melts in your mouth) with lentils, polenta and a bottle of Amarone.”
What is the most bizarre dish you have ever tried?
“I was on a diving holiday with my wife in Vanuatu, where I ordered red wine-braised flying fox! It was a very different flavour…I don’t know that I’d try it again!”
What is one question people are always asking you?
“Everyone always asks a chef, ‘what is your speciality?’, we do not have only one ‘specialty’ - we have many!”
What is your biggest food indulgence?
“After my heart attack I have been prohibited from any animal fats…but I would love to eat a whole suckling pig on my own.”
How do you have your coffee?
“Espresso, with just one sugar.”
What ingredient are you obsessed with right now?
“Moonlight Flat (Clair de Lune) Oysters…they are the best in Australia. I’m lucky enough to have them on my menu!”
Which three people would to invite to a dinner party?
“I would love the chance to have my grandmother and my two grandfathers over for a dinner party, so I can show them how I have remained true to my heritage.”
What is your best tip for home cooks?
“Use quality produce! Also, you must believe in and love the dish that you are cooking.”