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The Italian heart

PUBLISHED: 14:40 23 September 2013 | UPDATED: 14:40 23 September 2013

The Lodge, Old Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

The Lodge, Old Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

Why did you choose to become a chef? My mother and father were a big influence on my choice of career. Being Italian, food was a big thing in our house when I was growing up, and so I was inspired to take this further and make my livelihood from this love of food.

The Lodge, Old Hunstanton. Picture: Ian BurtThe Lodge, Old Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

What is your earliest food-related memory? Making gnocchi and cooking with my grandmother when I was about 12 years old.

What is the strangest thing you have eaten? There used to be a restaurant in London that served all sorts of wild meals, and one of the strangest that I ate was ant mash with cobra sausages. I can’t say it was fantastic, but at least I can say I’ve tried it!

What has been the highlight of your career so far? Having my work recognised and being awarded an industry rosette.

What do you enjoy most about working at The Lodge? I love the fact that I have a free rein to work with local suppliers to source the best, freshest ingredients and develop The Lodge’s menus to best reflect all that the Norfolk coast has to offer, and create food which is truly delicious and memorable. We’re lucky to have some of the best seafood, fish, meat and produce on our doorstep, that is ordinarily shipped hundreds of miles to London restaurants.

What would you say is special about your menu? My Italian heritage influences many of my dishes and so The Lodge is offering something truly unique on the coast. Best ingredients, simply cooked, is at the heart of my cooking style.

What is your favourite local ingredient? I have two – asparagus and mussels, both local, seasonal ingredients that are fantastic to enjoy either simply cooked or in a number of more developed dishes.

Do you grow your own fruit or veg?

We don’t have space to grow produce at The Lodge, but we do have a supplier from whom we regularly buy. Again, it means we can use fantastic Norfolk flavours, like beetroot, rhubarb and strawberries that have travelled virtually no food miles.

Are there any foods you can’t stand?

There isn’t really anything that I don’t like, but if I had to choose something it would probably be caviar.

Have you had any cooking disasters?

I was working in a London hotel as a chef de partie and was making 120 individual lemon tarts. Half an hour into cooking them, I realised that I hadn’t put any eggs into the mix. I had to start all over again.

What would your last supper consist of? Anything Italian – it’s what I grew up on and it’s what I would like to leave this world eating.

The Lodge, Old Hunstanton, PE36 6HX; 01485 532896; www.thelodgehunstanton.co.uk

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