Your dishes are plated up beautifully and look absolutely delicious. What’s your secret?
There’s a lot of planning, research, passion, discussions with the owners on what aspirations they are after, and of course teamwork within the kitchen. There are no secrets; just lots of planning, work, research, passion and teamwork.
We’ve heard your vanilla slice is famous. Could you tell us more?
Our vanilla slices are a feature at our café. They actually present well and are extremely big. The pastry we use is called laminata, which is sourced from Italy, and our secret custard mixture.
Your Breakfast Tower looks impressive. What does it include?
Our Breakfast Tower is a popular dish among our customers. It’s our house specialty. The top tier includes such things as sweet pancakes made in house, with mascarpone, blueberry coulis and orange segments. The bottom tier is a big breakfast including free-range eggs, bacon, smashed avocado, roasted mushrooms, stracciatella cheese and locally sourced cafone bread from Red Hill.
How do you use the fresh produce grown on site?
We grow a variety of produce on our farm. The grower and producer, Frank Donato, has been doing this for a number of years, and all year round our café is provided these amazing herbs to be used in our dishes. They’re available for customers to harvest themselves, including tomatoes, herbs and lettuces.
If a customer asked you to suggest your favourite dish on the menu, what would it be?
One of my favourite dishes on the menu would be the Breakfast Tower if they are hungry. It offers a variety of sweet and savoury options. Or try the caciotta benedict.
What’s your go-to trend to serve up that customers are loving?
We don’t usually follow the “trend”. We try our best to introduce new dishes throughout the seasons and trial various plates every few weeks to be featured on our specials board.
Could you tell us a little about your industry experience?
I studied cookery in Italy, where I grew up from humble beginnings. This involved fast-pace kitchens, large events and fine dining. I took the opportunity to work in a café environment as it was new to me and I wanted to challenge myself to be able to tell a story and improve myself and Donato’s.
What’s your style in the kitchen and what do you love most about what you do?
My style in the kitchen is a simple one: fresh local produce introducing my cooking techniques – and I don’t like to combine too many flavours in one dish. I live for the action and pressure during service and setting myself new targets and goals every season. Planning is everything.
Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs?
Be open-minded and take time to be creative. It’s all about trial and error. There are so many chefs around the world from whom you can learn everything from presentation to techniques. Every dish created has a story and adds so many elements that are exciting and flavoursome.