Food Wine Produce
FORK TALK – A CHAT WITH OUR FOOD, WINE & DINING EXPERTS Dallas Reilly — Montalto Restaurant, 33 Shoreham Rd, Red Hill South

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Where and how did your love of food begin? 

I cook because I simply love cooking. I love the enjoyment it brings to others and the thoughts and feelings that food can provoke. I can’t pinpoint a time when my passion began, but the fact that food and culture is so deeply connected and different everywhere drives me to continue to discover new and wonderful things.

Where do you find the dedication to keep innovating?

I’ve been a chef for 22 years and have dedicated myself to perfecting my craft. I moved to the Mornington Peninsula when I was a child. I left in my early 20s and after travelling and cooking my way up the east coast of Australia, settled in North Queensland for three years. Then back to the Peninsula. Then on to Europe. I spent my late 20s as a private chef for European celebrities, none of whom I can name due to confidentiality agreements. I’ve travelled extensively through Europe, America, Africa and South-East Asia. 

Tell our readers about your food philosophy at Montalto.

I started working at Montalto a year or so ago after travelling. I was thrilled to be promoted to head chef in August 2019. I am passionate about the education and training of my team as they are the future of the hospitality industry and the driving force behind Montalto. My food is based around three simple philosophies: highlighting the produce grown on the estate — the menu at Montalto reflects this incredible produce; utilising the wood fire in the kitchen — our cooking techniques are constantly evolving as we discover new ways of utilising fire; and being as sustainable and environmentally conscious as possible.

Can you describe your food?

I describe my style of food as honest. I source the most local and sustainable produce as possible and serve it simply in a style that reflects Montalto. Our produce, particularly meat and seafood, have been ethically produced by local suppliers. We are also in the process of consciously reducing our food miles on all ingredients and reducing our carbon footprint. 

And the influence of the Peninsula’s food bowl on your cooking?

I see the Peninsula as a unique environment that produces some amazing products. There are many farmers and producers on the Peninsula that are aspiring to do great things and it is their commitment that really inspires me. To bring awareness of the effort behind their products is a joy. As chefs and hospitality professionals, I believe we have a duty to help educate and pass on knowledge of sustainability, organics and ethical farming in an effort to help change the future of food and farming practices. We need to steer away from the monoculture of mass-produced food and return to using seasonal, local produce, using all of the produce/products that are available to us.

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