Today I had the chance to chat with Alex Wright; senior chef de partie from Cafe Valentino and sample his Fish of the Day special. Oven baked pistachi and feta crumbed Warehou on beetroot gnocchi with grilled tomato, sautéed asparagus and green beans finished with an orange and saffron vinaigrette was incredibly flavoursome, to say the least. Fresh and local ingredients prepared with a middle-eastern twist; this dish was an absolute delight to eat (and to look at)!
What’s one thing you’re really good at? Kitchen wise or…(raising eyebrows) nah, I actually tend to only see what I’ve done wrong or what I need to improve on. I guess what I’m trying to say is, the moment you accept you’re really good at something you won’t improve at it anymore. When are you happiest? When experimenting with food! Apart from cooking, what keeps you together? The support of my family, in particular; my beautiful girlfriend (awww!). Who would you love to work with? Hands down, Darren Wright. Not only is he an amazing chef, he’s also an incredibly funny and down-to-earth guy. What makes you laugh? A really good pun! What’s your favourite food at the moment? Green Leaf’s butter chicken (located in Burnside, if you’re wondering). What do you love about what you do? Unlike specific art forms, cooking is so universal. I mean, because everyone needs to eat, cooking becomes a shared experience; it’s relatable to every single human being. To me, being able to connect with others through a somewhat mundane everyday experience is really special. What do you love about working at Cafe Valentino? Apart from the mass knowledge I’m constantly gaining from my colleagues, I love the open plan nature of CV’s kitchen; it makes me feel closer to the diners. There’s honestly no better feeling than having a customer come up to the pass and personally thank me for their meal. What’s your signature dish? Indian and Thai comfort food. What is your best tip for cooking comfort food? Don’t assume just because it’s comfort food and supposedly “easy” that you can half-ass it. Take each step seriously and cook as well as you possibly can. Favourite ingredient? I’m currently coriander mad. Where do you see yourself in five years time? Running my own kitchen. Even if it’s just a small cafe or a food truck. What inspires you? Discovery. I love to push the boundaries and do something that’s never been done before. I don’t like to stay with the status quo. I’m constantly stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging myself.