With an Italian and Ukranian background, Michael’s earliest memories of food are making sausages and salami with the family in the backyard. His Italian nonna and Ukranian nana inspired him with their homemade pasta, sauces, preserves and vegetables. His aunt was a successful chef and restaurateur, and he learnt from her what could be achieved with care, attention and hard work.
At 18 Michael began his apprenticeship at Da Nunzio’s, continuing it at Kingston Heath Golf Club. Following this, Michael was chef de partie at Jacques Reymond where he was pushed hard. “Jacques Reymond taught me the finer side of cooking. He ignited the fire in my belly.”
Michael has been head chef at Sorrento Golf Club for the past seven years. He is confident he can withstand the pressures of the MasterChef: The Professionals kitchen. “It should be easier than cooking for 150 golfers on a rainy day.”
He met his wife Tamara when they worked together at Kingston Heath Golf Club and they now have two children, Elle (5) and Luca (six months). A self-confessed workaholic, Michael credits his parents for this work ethic. Passionate and driven, his greatest challenge has been balancing his ambitions to become the best possible chef and restaurateur with the needs of a young wife and growing family. “Am I going to look back and realise that I have missed too much?”
If Michael could work for any chef in the world, it would be Grant Achatz at Alinea in Chicago, where he spent some time. “I love to use modern science to make the food I serve fun and different.”
His dream is to own and operate his own restaurant using innovative molecular gastronomy.
“I always source the best possible ingredients, whether it’s from the Mornington Peninsula, found on the roadside or from my home garden. If it’s the best available, I want to use it.”
In 2012 Michael was a finalist in the Appetite for Excellence Young Chef of the Year awards, which he says was a tremendous thrill.