Food Wine Produce
Fork Talk
by Nikki Fisher

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Assaggini – selection of food.

A chat with Head Chef Mattia Di Febbo – Assaggini.

Where do you get the inspiration for the dishes you create?

I get inspiration from the traditional recipes of Italian cooking and blending these with Australian flavours and ingredients. It’s exciting to create contemporary dishes and flavours that people love.

Are there any chefs or restaurateurs you look up to and why?

Any and every restaurateur and chef doing the hard yards through the pandemic. To keep our industry alive and provide places for people to catch up and celebrate milestones during this time is important, and they all deserve accolades for their efforts.

Can you tell us a little bit about your industry experience?

I went to a high school that specialised in all aspects of hospitality and cheffing and allowed me to start in restaurants from an early age. From there I worked in weddings back in Italy before coming to Australia, and after working for the Epicurean in Red Hill for several years have settled here at Assaggini.

Assaggini – food and wine.

Tell us about where you grew up in Italy and how that influenced your love of food and cooking.

Abruzzo is a more regional part of Italy where the mountains meet the sea on the Adriatic. As a province we’re famed for our lamb and seafood. Growing up, large family meals cooked by my Nonna always featured traditional abruzzese dishes. It’s these memories of connection with family and food that influenced my love of what I do now.

What do you love about what you do?

It’s all about bringing people together and creating an experience. As a society we celebrate and connect over food, and it’s always great seeing people come together and being a part of it.

What’s special about having a restaurant on the Mornington Peninsula?

We have so much to celebrate on the Mornington Peninsula, with access to the best ingredients from local farms, fresh seafood from the bay and arguably the world’s best wines from local wineries. What makes all this come together and extra special, though, are our locals who come join us and our great community.

In these tough times, what has kept you going?

Our community and their ongoing support. Being able to still connect and provide an experience for guests will always be at the heart of what we do, and now it’s more important than ever to be able to provide it for them. It brings a sense of joy to the entire team.

When you’re not working in the restaurant, what do you like to do?

Like any good Italian I love good food, so out exploring the Peninsula and Melbourne for the best coffee, wine or pasta I can find.

Assaggini – cocktails.

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