One of the most amazing things about food, is that it can take you on a journey – to different countries, different time periods and make you feel like you’re part of something truly special.
Last month I had the pleasure of having one such journey…
I went to Italy (Sicily to be exact), I travelled back in time, and I met a family who taught me the traditional ways of cooking Sugo, and the true meaning of Italian hospitality.
Luckily for me though, the journey wasn’t all that long or far, in fact it was a short drive to the kitchen of one of Melbourne’s favourite Italian restaurants Mister Bianco, where owner and head chef Joe Vargetto took the class on a journey through his childhood and the food that inspired his stamp on the culinary world.
Like any true ‘masterclass’ – this was not about just watching and listening.
Being transported into the quintessential Italian kitchen meant being hands-on; processing tomatoes, adding beautiful fresh ingredients, bottling it all up – could you think of a better way to spend a Sunday?
And just when you though it couldn’t get any better – lunch was served.
A table which felt like you were in the warmest home, with flavours that were truly out of this world.
If you ever want to have the real Italian experience, I highly recommend taking one of these classes – you’ll remember it forever and will want to come back to the restaurant time and time again.
I sat down with the master himself, to talk all things food, family and what inspired the making of kitchens.
What does food mean to you?
Food means a lot to me as it has always been the source for making people happy, bringing families together or keeping you healthy and in shape.
Its been my expression of who I am and I love cooking for people.
What inspired the idea to start hosting classes at Mister Bianco?
Its’ actually been my Mum, I wanted to keep the recipes, stories and growing up alive.
It’s a great way to share my life story through relevant food.
What is your favourite dish to teach?
My absolute favourite is teaching people how to cook risotto, not just because I was lucky enough to be taught by the Italian master but to correct myths about its difficulty and show how easy it really is.
During your class, and even afterwards at the lunch there was a beautiful feel of family hospitality from you, the staff and the restaurant – is that something that’s always been important for your to convey in the restaurant?
This comes from confidence in what you say and growing up around people who want to make people happy.
Hospitality should feel like you are at my house and I will entertain and make you comfortable. The restaurants are extensions of home.
What is the most important thing you hope people get out of your classes – and out of their experience at the restaurant?
Most important is for people to start to use what they learned and tell others what they learned.
To demystify urban legends and make it easy to use in their daily lives.