I come from Sicilia, Siciliano. I come to Australia because I want to see more progression on my life. Many people go to Australia. In America for make good progress. Come Australia to benefit my life. Better you stay here, the debacle, it’s more chance for making money. Okay, I stay there. I live in Middleford for ten years, around about – 1962 to 72. In 1972 I come back to Melbourne. When I come back to Melbourne… I’ve got four children – two boys, two girls. I go for work to the factory. My wife look for the kids. The kids get to go to the school. That took up all my life.
I have been to Italy to visit where the parents are from, and just to see our background, where we come from. Well going to school was a little bit difficult, just going on by school lunches and things. We’d have our pepperoni and cutlet sandwiches, and we’d swap it with our Australian friends for fairy bread or hundreds and thousands. But that’s what we wanted to eat. And we’d swap our eggplant focaccia rolls for jam and butter bread sandwiches. Or peanut butter. Yeah. So I think they were getting a better deal than what we were
My parents came from Italy. I think the life in Australia was a lot greater than in Italy at the time. I think it sort of… not a poverty sort of country, but I think there were more opportunities in Australia for them, and their family being over here as well, that had a lot to do with it obviously.
Adapting to the culture of Australia, I believe, was pretty tough at the start. I think the foremost thing was to speak English, and so my dad did say to me that it did take him many months to learn how to speak English. He knew – obviously – words, but to put a sentence together. But I think once they sort of got that under their belt, that’s when work sort of came along.
Work was found in Melbourne through friends and fellow countrymen that lived in Melbourne, and my dad started off as a baker back in the late 50s in Melbourne.
I’ve been a chef for 20 years now, and being Italian and having Italian parents has a big influence on what I do. As you go along in your career you learn from other chefs, but my mum was the one that taught me the basis of Italian cookery, and I’m quite proud today to say that I use a lot of her old recipes because they’re very simple and they work well. So I think a lot of that Italian influence being a young lad’s come through now, and yeah, I use a lot of it.
When I was younger I used to cook a lot with mum, and she taught me how to make good gnocchi when I used exactly that… actually, it’s one of the recipes I use today. Growing up in an Italian family is different too… if you don’t really know much about it, it’s just always food every day, parties every day, and I just think learning all that culture of being together, having fun, drinking good wine, all that sort of thing that goes with food, and I try and bring it into Caesars here and let people share that experience.