Chef of The Week: Donato Dondiego, Head Chef at Amelies Restaurant in Porthleven, Cornwall
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I joined Amelies in June this year.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I originally come from a little village near Rome, just ten minutes from the seafront, and that’s where my passion for food started. I’ve learned my skills working in different places, I’ve absorbed different food trends and use them to put a twist on my own dishes.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I love eating and cooking good food, and I love arriving in the kitchen in the morning, opening the fridges and starting to plan the day head and organising the specials.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without
Garlic, parsley and extra virgin olive oil.
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
I love working with my wood-fired oven and we do a lot with it at Amelies.
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I think nowadays the experience the customer wants is having a relaxing atmosphere when they go out, but at the same time eating out is becoming all about discovering new flavours.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
A lack of communication.
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
My favourite time of the year for food is from the middle of April to the end of September, when you can find most of the fish available and most of the fruit and veg in season.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I love cooking with fish and I can create fantastic and tasty dishes in minutes.
How do you come up with new dishes?
I often consult my books but I also like to go out for a meals and experience different flavours or ask my chefs to come up with new ideas for new menus with seasonal ingredients.
Who was your greatest influence?
My greatest influence was a chef in Italy called Nunzio, who has unfortunately passed away. He always use to say to me that no matter whatever ingredient you have in the fridge you are able to create great dishes from scratch.
Tell us three chefs you admire: I love Gordon Ramsay, Raymond Blanc and Heston Blumenthal.