Sprezzatura Spotlight: Stefano Manfredi
Our founder Stefano Manfredi is known fondly in Australia as the ‘godfather’ of modern Italian cuisine. He has made his mark as chef, restaurateur, an inspired coffee blender and successful cookbook and food writer.
Stefano collaborated with Jacobs Douwe Egberts’s Master Blender Wayne Archer, to work together to translate Stefano’s ideas about flavour into Espresso di Manfredi. Manfredi drew on his experience with flavour profiles of the food he has prepared in his various restaurants over the years to create the premium blends, Classico, Audacia and Chiaro.
We sat with Stefano to find out more.
1. What is your favourite dish from your childhood?
It would have to be my mother’s tortelli di zucca. Pumpkin tortelli!!
2. What sparked your passion for cooking?
I didn’t actually have any formal training – as a child I would hang around the kitchen when my mother and grandmother were cooking and learn from them. My mother was my partner in my first restaurant venture, The Restaurant which we opened in 1983. Later inspiration came from the great Italian chef, Gualtiero Marchesi, who keeps influencing generations of chefs, plus the traditional restaurants, osterie and wine bars of Italy, which are the keepers of regional dishes.
3. What is your favourite dish to make for your loved ones?
My daughter’s favourite dish is saffron risotto and so I love making it for her. I guess that’s the great thing about cooking – making people happy.
4. What is your favourite place in Italy?
It would have to be the region in which I was born, Lombardy, but more specifically – Milan. It’s internationally known as a heartland for fashion and design but also has a history and grandeur to the city. There are (delete also) endless opportunities to experience the best of Lombard and Italian food.
5. How often do you visit Italy?
I try to visit twice a year – once in spring and again in autumn.
6. Other than food, what are you passionate about?
I listen to music and write to relax. Other things I regularly enjoy are films, books and gardening. As well as having access to the beautiful garden at Bells, I have lots of room to grow things on my balcony in the city.
7. How do you think the Australian food landscape has changed in your lifetime?
I look at what Australians ate in the 1960s and it’s completely different to what they eat now, there is a much greater food culture. To look specifically at Italian cuisine, it’s changed in Australia from being traditional, local food to a cuisine in which chefs are making moves to modernise and adapt traditional dishes. For example, today we see modernised adaptations of traditional preparations such as gnocchi, risotto, ravioli and salse such as pesto.
8. Who inspires you or where do you look for inspiration?
I’m inspired today by many of the young chefs who are rising in the industry. Chefs I work alongside in my own restaurants such as Gabriele Taddeuci, Marco Ribechini and Gianluca Donzelli who are passionate about Italian cuisine and also love to experiment with flavour and technique.
9. Who do you believe embodies sprezzatura?