Hi Matteo, when did you arrive in Australia?
I arrived in Australia 10 years ago, precisely on the 7th September 2009. I remember I left Venice without knowing where I was going. The only world in English I knew was “Hello” and I remember what my father told me before leaving: “If someone talk to you just say: sorry, no English.” So I left for my first flight experience, which happened to be a 24 hours flight experience!
At the beginning I wanted to go in Spain, then London, but then a job opportunity popped up in Brisbane, a chef position. I didn’t really even know where Brisbane was at the time but I applied and 3 months later I was there.
When?? My mother always tells me stories about me spending long hours cooking random rocks and grass using kids play kitchen tools. I was 5 back then and was spending lots of time with my nonna who loved cooking. My father is also passionate about cooking and I guess he shared that passion with me too. Over the years my passion for cooking and food in general kept growing and it keeps growing everyday.
Tell us about your professional path as a chef.
I started my career at the young age of 12, I used to work in this little trattoria near my home every weekend. It all started because I wanted a mobile phone, the good old Nokia 3330. So I started working and I saved enough money to finally buy it. Once I finished hospitality school I started travelling around Veneto region through different hotels and restaurants.
I’ve always been very excited to compete in cooking competitions, I feel like they’re a good challenge and push they pushed me to become more creative. I’ve completed about 20 cooking competitions throughout my career.
In one of them I received the first prize which was a scholarship at the prestigious International Italian Cooking School Alma of Gualtiero Marchesi followed by a 4 months stage at the 3 Michelin star restaurant Le Calandre of Massimiliano Alajmo. The whole learning experience was something unimaginable and something I’ll treasure forever. Following Le Calandre I returned to Australia where I had the fortune to work as the Chef with the amazing Grossi Florentino Group. I spent 6 years next to the one of the most talented Chefs in Australia – Chef Guy Grossi who he has mentored and shaped my knowledge day after day, teaching the value and importance of sustainability, developing relationships with farmers and produce to source, producing locally but most of all creating a team culture in the kitchen which a big move away from the military style of management which is still present in most kitchens today.After 15 years of hospitality I decided in January 2019 to open take the next step and start my own business: Knife and Fork Cooking School.
The Knife & Fork team has over fifteen years’ experience in hospitality, encompassing high-end cuisine and event catering as well as mentorship and teaching. We are well equipped to bring your ideas to life: whether it’s in menu planning, a catering event or a new pop-up. Knife & Fork can create a moment that will be remembered for years to come.
How did your experience at Grossi Florentino influence your career?
The intensive research for new recipes and new products never allows you to get bored at Grossi Florentino. I have spent 6 years with both chef Guy and chef Rodriguez who have an endless hunger for innovation, creativity and modern business management. Having the opportunity to work next to them over past 6 years and learn from them has been one of the greatest experiences to date.
I modelled myself not only as a chef but into what is most important nowadays in our industry: a entrepreneurial chef with the mind of a businessman.
What are the current trends in hospitality in Melbourne?
Melbourne is growing into one of the greatest cities in the world for hospitality year after year. I’m very pleased to see that the food culture here in Melbourne is finally returning to the roots of cooking. No more dehydrating and rehydrating, no more “Sous vide” everything in the menu but a simple “back to the real cooking” kind of approach from all the high end restaurants.
We are lucky to have so many great products growing here in Victoria and all over Australia and we “Chefs” have to understand how to use them in an appropriate way.
Tell us more about you cooking school.
We are a contemporary cooking school where the history of food is infused within the innovative techniques of modern cuisine. Through our cooking classes, workshops and events we showcase the incredible producers and products Victoria has to offer. We proudly support our farmers by using their ingredients, keeping us connected to our land.
Our extensive knowledge of raw materials has built, over time, a commitment to sustainable and ethical living: always trying to find the best ingredients and make them shine. We believe food is the best way to get people together, around the table and even at the farm. Our school is about sharing our knowledge and love of food with as many people as possible so that the culture of cooking can live on in their homes and through the generations.
Any upcoming project?
There are a few projects that we are working, one of which includes expanding the cooking school into different locations, team building events, collaborating with like minded chefs to create long table events – for example ”A journey through the silk road” which will be a food tour from Eastern to Western cuisine. Collaborations with wineries and distilleries by designing menus to pair with their already amazing products. In addition we also offer restaurant consulting for those looking for a fresh approach to their already amazing business.
We have been working together with Reggio Calabria Club in Parkville who are taking a fresh approach to the club with renovations underway and creating a great community hub for the next generation.