Italian Cooking Secrets from A Tavola

LifeStyle FOOD chats to award-winning Italian chef Eugenio Maiale and discovers his top tips and recipes for homemade pasta.

You grew up in Adelaide, how important was food and cooking during your childhood?

Food and cooking was the epicentre of my childhood. Everything revolved around what we were going to eat that day.

When did you realise you wanted to be a chef?

I realized I wanted to be a chef at the age of 14 after walking into the first commercial kitchen to work my first shift as a kitchen hand.
I felt complete and confident.

What is the inspiration behind A Tavola and what makes your restaurant unique?
My memories of early childhood. Where I would be furiously playing with cousins in the garden- we would then hear a cry from my mother “A Tavola!”
meaning -“Everyone to the table”- Totally exhausted we would run our race to the table to celebrate good wholesome, honest and soulful food –
Some of our best memories come from the table. This is where the inspiration behind A tavola comes from.

What is your signature dish?

Pappardelle con ragu’ di coniglio-Hand cut pappardelle pasta with slow cooked rabbit, sage and green olives (Get the recipe here!)

Do you have a favourite Italian dish you like to eat?

I love chicken livers-seared with onions and rosemary-with good bread and a glass of montepulciano
Click here for Eugenio's recipe for Tagliatelle with Chicken Livers and Broad Beans

What are your top tips for LifeStyle FOOD fans when it comes to making pasta from scratch?

Use the freshest eggs available
Use 00 flour
Do not over knead the dough

Why did you decide to get involved in the Slow Food movement and create the upcoming Primavera event?

A couple of years ago I saw Carlo Petrini talk at the Opera House. I was inspired to support the cause of 'Terra Madre'. Connecting with John Newton and the Slow movement is a natural progression on how I want to feed people at A Tavola in the future.

What does it take to be a successful chef?

- Patience-it takes time to master the skill-set
- Appreciation of the art and its mentors: recipes have been around for thousands of years and tradition should never be forgotten
- A successful chef should appreciate and respect this

What is one question people are always asking you?

How do you make your pasta?!

What ingredient are you obsessed with right now and what flavours are you excited about for spring?

I’m obsessed with heirloom radishes -in salads or as a side to seared duck breast in vin Santo
I’m also a broad bean freak- they are coming!

Who inspires you in the kitchen?

My two apprentices-their determination and aspiration to succeed as chefs inspires me to be the best I can.

Is there any cookbook you could not have done without?

Yes-my first Italian cookbook
The classic Italian cookbook-Marcella Hazan

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.

Describe your perfect day off (if you ever get one!)

Feeding the ducks with my daughter Milla and wife Michelle.

Would you like to get up close and personal with Eugenio?

Join with A Tavola restaurant and Slow Food Australia for its first ever Primavera event!

A tribute to spring produce and the simplicity of Italian cuisine, this eight course dinner event champions the Slow Food ‘Terra Madre’ philosophy founded by Italian Carlo Petrini in 1986. Taking place on Tuesday September 20th and Wednesday, September 21st, the dinner will be executed by Eugenio.

"A couple of years ago I saw Carlo Petrini talk at the Opera House. I was inspired to support the cause of 'Terra Madre'. Connecting with John Newton and the Slow movement is a natural progression on how I want to feed people at A Tavola in the future."

Working alongside Slow Food advocate, author, journalist and food personality John Newton, in conjunction with the Northern Rivers Food group, Eugenio has created a menu that showcases the very best of paddock to plate cooking.

Each of the eight courses represents a celebration of the very best of local New South Wales produce and Eugenio’s distinctive brand of humble, rustic Italian fare. From Eugenio’s hand made pastas, to fresh, vibrant produce and the locally produced, organic proteins, this dinner embodies the diversity of local produce and the principles of the Slow Food movement.

“Eugenio’s innate Italian respect for his raw materials,” said John Newton “and the lush and abundant produce of the Northern Rivers make for a practical - and delicious - demonstration of the values of the Slow movement: good clean and fair food”

With each course complemented by organic wine from Mudgee’s Thistle Hill, this dinner is incredible value at $150/head. Members of Slow Food and A Tavola database are offered a special price of $120/head.

To make a reservation please contact A Tavola restaurant on or phone (02) 9331 7871.

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