Shining Star with Chef Alberto Vitassovich
How did you become a chef?
I’ve always wanted to come to Australia since I was little so in 2012 after graduating as an accountant in my hometown of Imperia, Liguria, I landed in Adelaide. My first job was in a little café as a dishwasher and when I saw the chefs cooking, running around and screaming, I became really interested in what they were doing. I offered to help them with prep and found that it came naturally. I liked the pressure and stress so I decided to become a professional chef and to be the best chef that I could by working in the best restaurants in the world. I went back to Italy to study and a lot of friends and family didn’t take me seriously at first.
What have been career highlights?
There are many and I hope many more will come. I worked at two of only seven restaurants in Italy to have three Michelin Stars: at Da Vittorio Relais & Chateaux in Bergamo, Italy; and for Massimiliano Alajmo at Le Calandre. He’s the youngest chef in the world to achieve three Michelin Stars and we were 39th in the 50 best restaurants of the world. I’ve also cooked for my favourite football team, Juventus on multiple occasions, which was fantastic.
After arriving back in Australia in 2020 I received a call from the chef at Mirazur, another place with three Michelin Stars. They were being awarded Number One restaurant in the world and I was selected from 250 chefs to be part of the new team that they were building!
I could not describe the emotion. It was unbelievable but being in lockdown in Melbourne with the pandemic starting, I felt that I had to stay in Australia.
Later that year I met my partner at work, Kanokpun Hongnara (Kimp). We have been together for two years and are now living in this wonderful place and I’m the head chef of this beautiful restaurant with Kimp as my Junior Sous Chef so I have no regrets.
What do you love about being a chef?
I enjoy that every day is different, there is always something that doesn’t go as planned so you need to be flexible, react fast and find the best solution.
I like being busy and trying different ingredients, techniques and creating new dishes. There is always something to learn, the only limit is your imagination. I like to work with my team to create new dishes and teach and learn new techniques or ways to approach an ingredient.
Overall, I love to make people happy with my food.
Who would you love to cook for?
My grandmother who is my first memory when it comes to food. I have been away from home for nearly three years and lost her during that time so I would love to cook a full menu for her.
What is your approach to food?
For me it’s all about produce, quality and seasonality. Once you start from an amazing product it’s all about respecting it, understanding it and applying the correct technique to get the best from it.
I want my food to be simple but not trite; well-balanced, elegant, clean and making people happy.
I like to start with tradition and then developing a new idea to make it more appealing and also relevant to which part of the world I am living and working in.
What do you love about local produce?
I really love to support local producers, visit their farm and understand how they work and why they do what they do.
To fully understand is to respect the produce and get the best from it in the kitchen. I’m also telling their story to my customers. My favourites are Peter from Noosa Reds, Jason from Global Seafoods and Kelly from Cooroibah Greens.
Who is your culinary inspiration?
My mentors from Italy and Europe: Iside de Cesare and Romano Gordini from La Parolina (one Michelin Star) were my first and crucial mentors. The Cerea Brothers from Da Vittorio Relais & Chateaux; and Massimiliano Alajmo from Le Calandre (all with three Michelin Stars). I always look at the best chefs in the world to see what they are doing and get inspired from their stunning work.
What is your favourite dish to eat or cook?
I love to cook seafood, particularly grilled scampi. My favourite meat to cook and eat is the pidgeon/squab and of course being Italian, I love pizza.
What do you love about being IN Noosa?
It’s a fantastic place, a quiet place away from the hectic life of a big city, surrounded by beautiful beaches and hinterland. My hometown Imperia is a small seaside town, so for me having the water near to me is a must. I also love warm/hot weather so I definitely think I am living in the right spot.
Any advice for young chefs?
Be ready for a lot of sacrifice. Work for the best chefs possible – ones that interest and inspire you. I think it is crucial to get trained in that kind of environment where every day you need to push your limits. Learn as much as you can from the top of the field and don’t worry about the money, that will come down the track.
What is your favourite kitchen tool?
I like charcoal grill and BBQ and love to work with fire. It may seem trivial, but I think the thermomix, is one of the most useful and used tools we have in the kitchen. It is extremely versatile; you can do almost everything with it.
What is your favourite ingredient?
Coming from Liguria, the region of Basil Pesto, I would definitely say Basil.
Every time I smell it, it reminds me of home.
SPAGHETTINI WITH BASIL PESTO AND KINGFISH TARTARE
We suggest 120g of fresh spaghettini per person or any good quality dried pasta.
Make the Basil Pesto and prepare the Kingfish Tartare. Refrigerate until ready. Boil and strain the pasta according to instructions. Stir through the pesto and 1/3 of the Kingfish Tartare. Serve the pasta in individual bowls topping with more Kingfish, basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
We make a softer pesto with less cheese and we omit the garlic so we don’t overpower the raw fish.
- 400g picked basil, blanched and cooled in water and ice. Lightly squeeze the moisture out of the
leaves with a tea towel.
- 140g grated parmesan cheese
- 140g pine nuts
- 200g extra virgin olive oil delicato
- 10g salt • 2g raw sugar
Blend the pine nuts, parmesan cheese, oil, salt and sugar together. Add the basil while cold. TIP: Work with very cold containers to preserve the colour of the basil.
- 1 small fillet of sashimi grade Kingfish
- 200g kingfish tartare. 50g for each person.
- Salt flakes
- Lime zest
- Extra virgin olive oil delicato`or mild
First clean the fillet, taking out the bones and the skin. You can ask your local seafood shop to do that for you when you’re buying it. Dice the kingfish in small cubes then season it with salt, lime zest and extra virgin olive oil.