THEY say change is as good as a holiday, and it’s certainly feeling that way for Anthony DeCicco.
As of two months ago the 24-year-old became head chef and general manager at Antonio’s restaurant in Echuca.
The restaurant has recently changed hands and after being closed for a month has reopened with a few changes.
Well, make that a lot.
“So far (the changeover) has been good — the menu is completely new, from scratch. Pretty much the only thing the same is the Antonio’s name,” Anthony said.
Working around town at the likes of Ceres, Junction Moama and Sunago, Anthony said he relished the opportunity to create his own menu from what he’d learnt over the years.
His career started out of the 2011 Murray River Culinary Challenge where he placed runner-up in the competition and landed a job.
“I loved the competition, I could do it again and again,” Anthony said.
“I got my apprenticeship at Ceres out of it. Scott Pitt, one of the judges came to me afterwards and offered it to me.
“But I’m still a bit sour about runner-up to this day,” he laughed.
He said his focus when designing the menu was to stick with the classics but add something a little different.
“It’s a bit of old-school Italian but with modern twists. I did my apprenticeship at Ceres and worked there for three and-a-half years, so I had quite a lot of modern Italian influence,” he said.
“Working at Junction Moama under Michael Giarrusso and Dave Palmer there was a real focus on local ingredients.
“I just want to use the best ingredients for our dishes and so we have food sourced in Australia but some of the best pasta and prosciutto comes from Italy.
He’s also in charge of a small army of staff with three apprentices, a sous chef in Mim Musico and a pizza chef.
While it may be daunting for many, Anthony takes it in his stride.
“It’s not a new experience for me, I helped out running the kitchen at Sunago so I’m used to having a lot of people around,” he said.