Inside Guy Grossi's kitchen

Guy Grossi, 48, is chef and owner of four restaurants - in Melbourne the historic Grossi Florentino, Merchant, Ombra Salumi Bar and, in Bangkok, Grossi Trattoria & Wine Bar. You've seen him on television - MasterChef, Food Safari, and as a regular judge on My Kitchen Rules.

And he's in bookstores - so far author of five books, including his latest heavyweight tome, Love Italy (Lantern, $100). At home it's all about family and the Italian chef shares cooking duties with wife and business partner Melissa, 45.

The couple's two children, Loredana, 23, and Carlo, 25, have left home but are never far away - both work in the family business.

Last night's dinner

We had a big shared long lunch of octopus, salads, salumi and meat dishes, so for dinner we just had a nibble - some braised beef and cheese empanadas out at San Telmo. It was great.

Most unforgettable meal

In 2000 we were travelling in Venice as a family, nonna (Grossi's mother) as well. It was around lunchtime and we walked into a cheese shop and bought some fresh stracchino, which is like a smooth ricotta, and some crusty bread from a bakery next door. We sat on a bench in a little piazza and the five of us got stuck into it. It was one of the best meals of the whole trip.

Recipe stalwart

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A quick pasta carrettiera. It's tasty, flavoursome and full of nourishment but quick to put together. Warm the oil, get a little bit of garlic in there, put some tomatoes in with some fresh parsley for flavour, season it, then cook for a while. Once the tomatoes have taken on plenty of flavour, pop in some tuna and dress your pasta with it.

Food discovery

Soft-shell mud crabs from Watermark Seafoods in Queensland. We've been doing them very simply like you would in an osteria in Venice, in a really super-light batter. The flavour is amazing - you don't need salt or pepper, it's like they've been pre-seasoned.

Favourite

My cook's knife. I can't do anything without that. It's a German brand, Trident, and one of my chefs, Matteo Tine, gifted it to me for a birthday with the inscription ''chef Guy Grossi''.

Secret vice

Smith's Salt & Vinegar chips. It's bad, I know. I like the crinkle cut.

My inspiration

Finding new ingredients, new sources of produce or even the seasons changing - the mushrooms might have come out, so I'll think, ''Let's grab some pine mushrooms'', and do a dish with those.

My toolkit

I chose the Lacanche oven because it has a nice domestic feel but plenty of solid, commercial grunt and the Electrolux fridge is big enough to fit a Gastronorm tray, which we use in the restaurant kitchens. That means we can bring stuff home for parties and put it straight into the fridge. I have three potato ricers for making gnocchi with my family and a wooden paddle for scoring the pieces.

The staples

My pantry You'll always find canned tuna. It's easy, versatile - it's like fast food. Make a pasta with it, a light salad by adding some beans or add some avocado for a quick lunch. We always have olive oil, which comes specially blended from South Australia, garlic, pasta of some description, tomato paste and canned tomato. And I use Iblea sea salt, which is still harvested by hand. Salt is one of the most important ingredients in any cuisine. When I go to restaurants I start eating the salt before they even bring the bread over; I just love the flavour.

My fridge We always have cheese in the house because I'm a bit of a cheese monster, even though it's not that good for me. My favourites are parmigiano reggiano and any double cream brie. A range of vegetables and parsley is really important for good flavour and I like having a selection of antipasto-type things, like pickled octopus, olives with feta, or stuffed peppers. Capers are really cool too, great for seasoning and adding flavour. We have some fresh tuna today. I'll either slice it and serve it crudo - raw - with a bit of olive oil and salt, or chop it into a tartare-style dish, blended with other lovely elements.

I'm drinking

I have a fresh orange juice and a caffe latte in the morning for breakfast - we use Lavazza Tierra beans - and I drink lots of San Pellegrino mineral water. I've just discovered the Melbourne Gin Company, which is great, and I love good beer. Ben Kraus from Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth brews a special one for our own Grossi label. And I love wine - the Italian varietals, such as pinot grigio, soave but chardonnay and pinot noir are my favourites. The only thing I really steer away from is sauvignon blanc.