Guy Grossi: Venetian Cuisine

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Guy Grossi is the owner and head chef of Grossi Restaurants, which includes Melbourne’s iconic Grossi Florentino, the colourful Mirka at Tolarno Hotel in St Kilda, Grossi Trattoria, Bangkok, and most recently Merchant Osteria Veneta, located at Rialto Collins Street.

Guy Grossi

Oryx spent a few minutes chatting to this busy Guy - the leading Australian chef, presenter, and food and media personality with a deep love of Italian cooking, culture, and hospitality - to gain an insight into his culinary philosophy.

How does Venetian and Veneto cuisine differ from the surrounding country?
All the regions of Italy have their very distinct characteristic when it comes to food. The culture can vary also. Sometimes even within a region itself there are differences and nuances. Veneto, like many regions, is affected by the climate and what grows well there. Things such as white asparagus, radicchio, cuttlefish, lagoon fish. Historically, due to the merchant trade of this region with Eastern countries, much of the food still holds recipes rich in spices.

With its unique waterways, does seafood play an important role? Or is it the mountain region that provides the inspiration?
Veneto actually benefits from both. Venice is known for its fish markets, but other regions such as Verona are famous for mountain areas and game birds – as well as lagoon fish, crabs, and cannolicchio, which are a shell fish.

Do you have a favourite dish from the region?
It is hard to pick one, but the braised cuttlefish cooked in its own ink, served on soft polenta, is definitely up there.

Why open a Venetian restaurant in Melbourne?
My mother is from the Veneto so I am very familiar with its cooking and culture. I love the food and have enjoyed many traditional recipes growing up. Melbourne is a culturally diverse destination and has a very developed culinary culture. Melbourne is a city ready to explore the regional-specific cuisines of different countries and discover a new level of flavours.

How does Merchant differ from your other restaurants?
All our restaurants have their own specific soul. Merchant is our first osteria. This is a very casual dining space that does not lack in class. In Verona an osteria is a place for locals to relax, enjoy, and entertain. The osteria belongs to the people. Merchant represents all of this. Food can be shared as a feast or consumed on your own. Aperitivo drinks flow in the afternoon with cicchetti – little samples or antipasti. For some this only teases the palate, whilst for others this is enough.

Rialto, 495 Collins Street

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