Get to Know Marco – The Brasserie Head Chef
It takes great skill to create the perfect pizza with a chewy, yet crisp base, just enough deliciously fresh toppings and the right amount of mozzarella. Marco, Head Chef in The Brasserie, has those skills in spades. He is passionate about food, especially pizza and pasta, having grown up in Italy watching his mother cook. Now he has a brand-new wood-fired oven imported from his homeland to experiment with to bring Canada Bay Club members the Inner West’s freshest pizza.
Here, learn who inspires Marco in the kitchen, what he loves most about his job and how he spends his spare time.
Tell us a little about your background – where did you grow up?
I grew up in northern Italy, between Turin and Milan, but my whole family is originally from Napoli in the southern part of Italy.
What were your favourite foods when you were young? Have you included any old favourites on the menu at The Brasserie?
My favourite foods when I was young were pasta and pizza – typical for a young person in Italy. I also liked fish very much. Sometimes I make special dishes in The Brasserie that my Mamma cooked for me when I was young – it evokes so many special memories of my childhood.
What led you to a career in food? Who or what inspires you?
When I was younger I was always with my Mamma in the kitchen helping her cook, setting up the table and serving my whole family. It is definitely my Mamma who is my inspiration. She had amazing cooking skills and her attention to small details was impressive, something I will never forget.
What do you love most about cooking?
Cooking is a passion and requires dedication. The fact that the kitchen is always evolving makes you realise how you can invent new dishes and play with lots of different ingredients.
What does a typical day involve?
Being in charge of the entire kitchen and function catering offering means a lot of focus and dedication. I’m responsible for menu ideas, dealing with suppliers, sourcing seasonal products and ensuring the availability of produce. I work with my team to prepare the food daily, look after our function guests and ensure the smooth operation of the kitchen. I also create new dishes for the menu and organise the weekly specials. No day is the same and I’m constantly thinking about how we can provide great food to our customers.
Tell us about your customers in The Brasserie – have you got any great stories to share?
For a Head Chef it’s really important to build customer-chef relationships. Talking with customers, hearing how they feel and what they like the most, and listening to their feedback is very important. We are fortunate to have a lot of loyal members who regularly provide thoughts on the menu items that they are enjoying.
What was behind the idea to update the menu at The Brasserie? I
Introducing new dishes to the menu was challenging, but an exciting opportunity to evolve the food for our members to allow seasonal produce to shine. We’d tweaked the menu over the years, but I’ve loved the opportunity to include new dishes depending on what I can access at the markets, and these changes are being well received by our customers. My favourite dish on the current menu is the Seafood Platter, and we’re lucky to be able to have access to such quality local seafood to offer our members. You can choose which type of fish you’d like, plus fresh oysters, prawns, calamari and scallops with sides of chips and salad – everything you could ask for on one plate.
Can you tell us about the new wood-fired oven?
The new wood-fired oven was sourced directly from Italy. It took a few months to arrive, but it has been worth the wait. I did a lot of research to find the best option to suit the Club and our style of kitchen, and I decided on the one we now have. It’s a great oven, good looking and it is working perfectly. Wood-fired pizzas are so authentically Italian and as a chef it’s great to be able to make some delicious new pizzas for our members to enjoy.
Any new additions to the menu because you now have the wood-fired oven? Has it inspired any new dishes?
I’ve already added some new pizzas and introduced calzone and sweet pizzas, which we’ve never had before. There’s lots of opportunities to continue to work out how we use this new oven to deliver different meals – rustic dishes, such as porchetta and lamb, and even freshly baked bread.
What’s the best thing about your job and working at Canada Bay Club?
I like being in control of everything to do with the kitchen and food at The Brasserie. I enjoy people getting to know about me and my food.
Tell us some of your personal interests or hobbies. What do you love doing when you’re not at work?
I play soccer and go to the gym regularly. I like to keep fit and I also box sometimes.