Inside Alessandro Pavoni's kitchen

When Alessandro Pavoni opened his first restaurant in 2009, on the water at Sydney's Spit, the man who'd grown up in Brescia among Italy's famous northern lakes felt right at home. Ormeggio scored a hat in its first year and has held two ever since. His success may have something to do with a nonna who cooked him fabulous food and his early career in Michelin-starred restaurants around Europe. A devotee of the 5:2 diet, he's managed to shed 20 kilograms. He lives on Sydney's northern beaches with his wife, Anna, and three-month old daughter, Jada.

The staples

My pantry: Sirena tuna, which I have for breakfast with avocado, cottage cheese and pesto on Ormeggio Bakery sourdough toast. Maille Dijon mustard is great with meat and very low in calories. Le Tamerici mustard fruits are a classic with boiled meats. Acquerello aged rice makes the best risotto and Hikari miso soup is a good snack. Olive oil is from my friend Victor's family farm in Spain and we always have Capriccio tinned tomatoes handy. A square of Amadei chocolate is a daily treat.

My fridge: I like to use kangaroo fillets for carpaccio. It's amazing raw and I love the iron-y taste. We buy Campisi salted anchovies and when my mother visits from Italy she fillets them and puts them in oil. We always have some sort of hard cheese; currently it's Bagoss from Lombardy, my region in Italy. Do bottles of milk for our new baby count? I love being able to bond with her on my days off by giving her a bottle!

I'm cooking

Recipe stalwart

Just a quick pasta with anchovies, tuna, tinned tomatoes, chilli and herbs from the garden.

Last meal at home

It was yesterday's breakfast: scrambled eggs with pancetta and parmigiano reggiano, toasted seeded sourdough, mashed avocado and cherry tomatoes.

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Secret vice

I'm a junkie for Barilla pesto. I eat it with a spoon straight from the jar.

I'm drinking

Nespresso ristretto – short, black, strong and fast. Tea is really not for me unless it's a chamomile last thing at night to quell my hunger on a fasting day. We always have cool filtered water in the fridge and sparkling from the Soda Stream. I like any kind of pale ale. Currently in the fridge is Fat Yak. Majolini Franciacorta is Italy's answer to champagne but even better.

Night off tipple

My night-off tipple is grappa– barrel-aged is my favourite. Oh and I'm trying to cultivate an appreciation of scotch.

My toolkit

The Nespresso coffee machine and my Bourgeat nonstick fry pan are always being used. I love my charcoal barbecue and my big wooden chopping board, which stays permanently on the bench top. The stone pan takes a while to heat up but when it gets there it cooks meat brilliantly.

Favourite

It's a painting of onions by Guy Hawson. It relates to when I first came to Australia as a chef and only spoke Italian dialect. Every time I heard people say "Good onya, mate" I thought they were saying "Good onions, mate". I couldn't work out why they were never so complimentary about any other vegetables in the kitchen.

Inspiration

I have heaps of books at home which I often refer to – there's always a pile next to my bed. Giorgio Locatelli's Made in Italy: Food and Stories is the best book on Italian food around. Online I'm really into an Italian blog called Passione Gourmet.

I wish I had

A massive central island prep bench that doubles as seating for friends and family. Our current one is too small. 

Most unforgettable meal

Piazza Duomo in Alba, Piedmont. It's unbelievable, a real dining experience. You always get about 30 dishes but one I remember was tagliatelle made without any actual pasta, just tomato cooked, poured flat and set somehow, then cut into strips. With a little basil and parmesan it was one of the best dishes of my life. I go there every time I visit Italy and every time I eat something that makes me think "Why didn't I think of that?" The chef, Enrico Crippa, is a genius.