Shares his passion and inner secrets of his Italian heritage and love of Italian cuisine.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I’ve been working in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years. We moved to New Zealand in 2014 and I worked for a well-known Italian restaurant in Herne Bay and after that in Takapuna. Finally, last year, I made the call and opened my own Italian restaurant.
Tell us about your workshops?
I’ve always loved making handmade pasta at home so a couple of years ago I thought: “Wouldn’t it be a great idea to share my knowledge with people that would like to learn how to make some fresh pasta?” That’s how I started holding my workshops. People have the chance to learn how to make real fresh pasta following the ancient Italian tradition and in different cuts, using a classic pasta machine.
When did you first learn to cook, and who taught you?
When I was just a child my grandma Francesca taught me how to make fresh pasta and bread. I used to spend hours and hours in the kitchen with her making orecchiette and tagliatelle. My mum is an excellent cook too and passed me a lot recipes and tricks of the Italian cuisine in general. Both these women are my true inspiration.
Most people love the Italian culinary culture, why do you think this is?
I think people love Italian cuisine because of its richness and taste. Everything is made using simple and fresh ingredients. Italian cuisine is also very varied, every region has its own traditions and distinctive style from risotto of the north of Italy to tortellini of Emilia Romagna or fresh pasta of the south.
Your food philosophy?
My food philosophy is to keep it simple, use fresh ingredients, and add heaps of passion and love!
Italian spices, flour, semolina flour, extra virgin oil, balsamic vinegar, parmesan, mozzarella, tomatoes, eggs, and cooking wine.
Italian restaurants that have inspired you?
Ristorante Don Carmelo in Cellino San Marco, Puglia; and La Divina Pizzeria in Arona, Lake Maggiore.
Your food hero?
My grandma and my mum of course! But also chef Cannavacciuolo.
Current favourite dishes on your menu?
Orecchiette Puglia with anchovies, pecorino cheese, broccolini and cherry tomatoes; and Orecchiette truffle, with Italian truffle paste, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, parmesan and parsley.
Your Sunday routine?
Wake up late, spend some time with the family, then off to the restaurant.
Who cooks at home?
When I’m home, me of course!
Anything else you would like to add?
Follow us on Facebook @pugliarestaurant and Instagram @pugliarestaurant. Support local businesses!
And a very special thanks to our head chef Hamish Barbour who has worked with me over the last six months and helped me make all this real. He brings to Puglia his knowledge of Italian cookery learnt in Europe and Australia. Hamish graduated from AUT in 1997 and worked in Auckland until an OE to Germany turned into five years of cooking and living. After Europe he returned close to home working in five-star resorts and popular restaurants in Sydney, including The Italian Village Restaurant in the Rocks. Returning to NZ for family reasons, we are now happy to have Hamish cooking our delicious Puglia cuisine.