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This month Italian Chef, Bryan Gerlini, shares his difficult experience of settling into the Australian hospitality industry whilst learning the English language.
1. Your restaurant/business:
Just finished at A Tavola restaurant in Darlinghurst after 3 years and now focusing on my projects .. One of these projects is "Degustando", pop-up themed detestation.
2. Describe your kitchens:
My style of cooking, which can be defined as an "untraditional Italian cuisine", consists of keeping the knowledge of tastes and smells otherwise related to my origins, then re-adapted and reinvented for an audience that really enjoys and appreciates Italian history and traditions.
3. Favourite Chef item and why:
A seriously good chef knife and sharpening stone, by sharpening it yourself you always have it super-sharp and polished which makes you feel even better about your knife. It kind of makes it even more special!
4. First job:
I had my apprenticeship in a small restaurant, but my first serious experience was at 16 years old as a Chef The Partie (station Chef) in the kitchen of the Chef Tiziano Rossetti. He was a very skilled Chef that owned his experience in many of the most famous restaurants awarded between *,**,*** michelin stars around Europe. He is now a professor at ALMA. I worked for him for 3 years and that gave me most of the techniques and experiences needed for the kitchen world.
5. Your cookbook:
Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef by Massimo Bottura - this book is more for thinkers, it breaks the rules of cookbooks, but is more about the history of the Chef that revolutionised Italy from the culinary prospective. Bottura develop his ideas for over 20 years and he created this cookbook where if you are passionate about fine dining cuisine, you can easily find yourself in it.
Arriving in Australia , November 2009, without speaking a word of english, I worked my way up in many restaurants between Melbourne and Sydney! Now March 2015, I finally have the possibility to be considered as an Australian permanent resident!!! So I don't know if this can be considered as an award, but we can call it a personal achievement.
7. Your cooking inspiration:
Considering that his book is one of my favourite, I would say Massimo Bottura, but I would say that even Heston Blumenthal has always been a big inspiration for me.
8. Your speciality dish:
Its funny how everyone always asks… what's your speciality?! And after many years I realised that my speciality dish that I am always cooking when I get invited to a friends house or to a party (which means that the chef has to cook) I would pick .. Risotto Marinara or any kind of Risotto.
9. Favourite dish to eat:
By being a Chef it is hard to choose one dish, because if any Chef would want to cook at home , he could basically make anything! But there is one thing impossible to make at home, unless you have a wood-fire oven !! and that dish is exactly what you all thinking right now... a proper Pizza traditionally made from a proper Italian pizza maker with certified Italian ingredients!
10. Wierdest thing you have ever eaten:
Pig Blood Ice-Cream which I actually created for one of my themed Degustando event... even if it sounds disgusting it was actually quite good! Of course I had to hide the name of the ice-cream and actually called the dish - Where is the pork..?? So I created a sort of interaction between my cooking and the customers which they loved.... till I told them!
11. Favourite ice cream flavour:
After I've been working for 3 years across the road from Messina , I can easily tell you that I have always had 2 flavours of ice-cream Tiramisu & Pistachio.
12. Favourite drink:
Chefs are heavy drinkers of coffee and as one of them I can be considered in that category with up to 4 or 8 a day! But sometimes when I prefer to slow down to prevent any sort of problems. I also love some good tea, preferable Earl grey or English breakfast - doesn't matter if hot or iced.
13. Favourite wine:
Lambrusco Di Sorbara, doc (leclisse)
14. Who would you most like to cook for:
I would like to repeat myself and say Massimo Bottura that man is for me the biggest inspiration and would be amazing to have some suggestions regarding how to improve my cooking.
15. Who would you least like to cook for:
Popeye .. who would like to cook for an old grumpy sailor that eats only spinach??!
16. Favourite things to do outside of the kitchen:
In the past years I have discovered the pleasure of going regularly to the cinema every tuesday! Tickets are cheaper and it's the best way for me to relax and leave all that crazy world (which is my job) behind.
17. Your latest project:
Before going back to Italy for a long 3 months , I am working casual in a hatted restaurant so I can get back on learning some more about food/technique. At the same time I am trying to come out with another DEGUSTANDO.. the location is almost confirmed and even the date! Everything will happen after easter so ... stay tuned on my Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/degustandosydney ) if you would like to come and taste some dishes.
18. Favourite city and why:
Sydney is the dream of many people (for the lifestyle, landscapes, beaches and much more) and for me is now home! Because it gave me the possibility to became an Australian resident, and now at 27 years old I can start to built my future in another continent on the other side of the world.
19. Your greatest indulgence:
I am living a life on a constant diet (with not some great results, but at least i am trying..). When I have a day off or late at night straight after my last shift before my day off starts , I love to have any sort of junk food with my colleagues (burgers, sandwiches, hotdogs, pizza...) anything that you can think that makes you fat! so I can go back to my diet on my days of work.
20. Your all time best culinary tip:
My tip goes to all these young Chefs like me, who are about to start their career and just finished their apprenticeship.. Set a target for your life or your career, and by target I mean - who you wanna be, what you wanna do, where you wanna be and in how long you want to achieve it?? Once you have all these points clear in your mind...don't be to kind with yourself, work hard to try and realise it as fast as you can...don't do tomorrow the stuff that you can do today. Always be honest and coherent with people and with yourself, in this way even if you will make a mistake there will be no hard feelings. Just remember that nothing is impossible, it is just the comfort of what we have around us that makes it impossible and the fear of something new that scares us, but sometimes you have to take some risks and if in 6 years I have learned how to speak fluent English, earned my permanent visa and now living on the other side of the world being a Chef - you can do as well as I did, if not even better... Good Luck to you all!!