Claim to fame?
Owner of the acclaimed Stefano's Restaurant in Mildura, Victoria. Won Chef of the Year and Restaurant of The Year in The Age Good Food Awards. I had a Federation Medal for services to tourism, a gong from the NSW Government for Contribution to Tourism by an individual. I hosted an ABC series, Gondola on the Murray and I think I can fairly say that I was one of the first to kick off food on Australian TV after the success of the Two Fat Ladies. I was also the first chairman of the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show, which has changed some of the ways we drink in Australia. But my real claim to fame is my amazing family.
Where does your passion for food come from?
I like eating and drinking.
Besides cooking, my involvement with the arts and education has given me a sustaining reason to love life and embrace it with gusto. But the first night Gondola was shown on national TV was really exciting.
When I lost the opportunity to enter the Victorian Parliament by walking away from politics. I was silly. I've got over that now.
Sounds like a cliche, but my mother's cooking (solid, traditional, rooted in farming life), my brother's style of cooking (casual, tasty, adventurous, musical, creative and cheap), Cheong Lew, an Australian cook who showed how to merge East and West meaningfully and mostly memories of great patisserie shops, cheap and cheerful trattorias, white linen tables and great but not fussy service - all those Italian things to do with food that we all like.
If I had to choose it it would be something with a fish from my river; cod from the Murray River, oven-baked with a lamb sauce (sounds weird, but cod does well with rich, meaty sauces). When the Brits came to Australia they introduced these ideas and I think that in this case I owe them something.
Current favourite ingredients?
Fava beans and blood oranges.
Always in your pantry?
Anchovies, because they add flavour to any dish.
When you're not in the kitchen?
I'm by the river, having a picnic with my family and friends.
* Appearing Fri 2.30pm, Sat 4.30pm, Sun 11.30am
Claim to fame?