Guy Grossi is one of Australia’s most recognised and celebrated Chefs. As the son of notable restaurateurs, it seems Grossi has always felt right at home in the kitchen and has since gone on to run a number of successful restaurants himself. As Italian cuisine runs through his veins, Grossi has proudly shared his culinary knowledge on television series such as Masterchef, My Kitchen Rules and Italian Food Safari and has also penned several cookbooks including Love Italy – which is a personal favourite of mine. I was lucky enough to chat with Guy Grossi while he was in Perth for the opening of his brand new restaurant, Garum. Read the full Q & A below.
Can you tell me about the concept behind Garum?
I like Roman food, I always have done and because of the place and the concept and how it evolved, I thought it’s a really nice way to just have an Italian restaurant that is really specialised. So you know, Our food is based on, there’s a bit of that whole Ancient Roman sort of thing creeping through but it’s also classic Rome, you know your Bucatini all’Amatricana done really well, Cacio e Pepe, you know a really good Fettucine Carbonara using proper guanciale and things like that. And you know just executing things in a really sort of simple but sophisticated manner. So that’s where it all sort of comes from and the word Garum is the Ancient Roman fish sauce, so we were looking for a strong name that really represented the concept very well. My brother-in-law came up with that and we thought “Garum”, that’s strong, that’s a good word and it means what it means, so it’s good.
What is your earliest food memory?
Probably being around the kitchen at my Mum’s table. Just sort of sitting around there and watching her cook, because you know you’d be talking to her and then she’d take the Osso Bucco out of the oven and when she wasn’t looking you’d go and pick the bone marrow out of the middle of it.
What’s the first dish that you learnt to master?
When you start as an apprentice you get all the rubbish jobs. Otherwise at home it was always the odd jobs like cleaning the fagiolini and all that sort of stuff.
Is there a particular dish that encompasses your childhood?
I always think of the Good Friday and the Fettuccine with Calamari ragù. Mum used to always make that for us for every Good Friday and it is a really good childhood memory.
What inspired you to step into the kitchen in the first place?
Well my Dad was a Chef and he always kind of dragged me along to the restaurants to work on the school holidays and weekends, so I kind of fell into it that way.
And what inspires you in the kitchen today?
Working with great professionals and people that enjoy quality and want quality. Just that whole aspect of doing something that pleases other people delivering hospitality and delighting people.
And your favourite meal at Garum?
I think the veal that we do. The white rocks veal shoulder with the white wine and sage. It’s braised, it’s slow cooked, it’s tasty and it’s wholesome.
And your favourite cocktail?
At Garum it’s a posca (vodka, vinegar, Ginger Beer, Mint, Pineapple) it’s inspired by the Ancient Romans who used to mix vinegar, which wine which had oxidized then turned into vinegar and they would then mix that with water and give that to their soldiers. That was their drink so we created that little cocktail and it’s really refreshing.
And your favourite dish of all time?
That’s a hard one! You know it’s so difficult. A lot of people ask that question and it’s very hard to pick just one dish. It’s a seasonal question as there’s always different things coming through. They become your favourite for a minute and then you move on.
Is there anything you don’t eat?
(laughs) not really. I have a very good palette I I eat pretty much everything.
And what are three must have ingredients that you always have in your kitchen?
The things you have got to have in your cupboard are great olive oil, garlic and a packet of pasta. You can go anywhere from there.
What advice do you have for those that are a little nervous to step into the kitchen?
I think just grab a recipe book that you like, use it as a guideline but then just have the confidence and go for it and make it your own, change it. Just be confident.
And what are you working on next?
We’ve got a cellar bar cookbook coming out at Christmas and we are just focusing on what we’ve got going and concentrating on quality.
Garum is a collaboration between Guy Grossi and the Westin Perth and is located in Hibernian Place. To learn more about Garum click here.