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Saturday 2 April 2022

Star chef signs for Yarra Valley gig

There is a new big-name chef working in the Yarra Valley. 

De Bortoli Locale has appointed former Otto, Stokehouse and Il Bacaro pan handler Maurizio Esposito as head chef.

Esposito has also worked at eateries including Cecconi’s in Melbourne and his own award-winning restaurant Esposito in Carlton. 

He has told the de Bortoli family that he wants to create food in an environment that cares about sustainability, fresh produce and nose-to-tail eating. 

He intends to strip away the formalities and pretensions of fine dining to create a "relevant" modern eatery. 

Leanne de Bortoli says: “My grandfather's dream was to make wine a part of everyday life, affordable and enjoyable. 

"When he migrated to Australia he grew his own produce, raised chickens, pigeons and pigs so that he could feed his family and friends at his home. He was living sustainably, growing and recycling at a time when that was just what you did. 

"My family are also living with similar values to leave a healthy and viable business for generations to come.”

Esposito says he is excited to work with local producers and with the potential to grow produce on the de Bortoli farm. 

"We know we have a responsibility to do what we can to mitigate the effects of climate change and to protect the planet we all call home. I’m eager to use locally grown produce and highlight dishes reflecting my Italian heritage and that of the de Bortoli family.”

Plans are already underway to enlarge the kitchen garden and orchard on the farm and the menu features dishes like deep-fried zucchini flower filled with silverbeet and cashew nut purée, served with homemade tomato relish; and salt-cured Yarra Valley Buxton rainbow trout served with fresh fennel, herb jelly and vodka caviar. 

Locally raised Dixons Creek beef also features heavily.  

"With Maurizio at the helm and leading a young and enthusiastic team, expect to see a vibrant, rustic menu; a reintroduction of the family’s salami-making celebration in winter; cooking classes throughout the year and regional Italian lunches; the next one highlighting the food of Puglia," says Leanne de Bortoli. 

Locale restaurant is open Thursday-Monday for lunch and Saturday evenings for dinner. Bookings can be made at or on (03) 5965 2271.

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