light vanilla sponge, orange soak, chocolate custard, caramelised almonds, hazelnut milk chocolate mousse, and a white chocolate vanilla bean glazeFrancesco Gulisano is Owner and Head Chef of Dolcettini, which he co-owns and runs with wife Bianca.

Growing up as a typical Italian Dural boy, working on farms and in restaurants, Francesco’s passion and inspiration for food came from his Mamma and Nonna, who always used the best produce and never skimped on quality. Francesco and Bianca opened Dolcettini in 2012 as a wholesale business, but demand from locals soon saw them expanding into a small retail space offering breads, coffee, gelato and brunch items alongside their cakes and pastries.

Go West Gourmet recently caught up with Dural’s answer to Adriano Zumbo about his life as a chef…

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AS A CHEF?
I first started at 14years old as a kitchen hand at Mother India restaurant and worked there for 3 years. I started my apprenticeship at my local bakery and was voted one of the top ten best apprentices in Australia and New Zealand in 2004. I later moved to Casa del Gelato wholesale company in Marrickville under Harrods trained by owner Chef Jose Mendonca. There I was in charge of daily cake, biscotti and pastry production. From there I spent one year at Brassiere Bread Banksmeadow were I oversaw all pastry production as the weekend foreman.

Prepared dessert ready for the ovenWHY DID YOU WANT TO BECOME A CHEF?
I really had a passion of making things when I was growing up, often picking up my mums women’s weekly magazine and looking at the baking section. Its all about putting a smile on peoples faces . Having always had a creative streak, and loved using my hands, I had a real passion before I finished school to become a Pastry Chef. Peter Gilmore of Quay had a major influence on me. I was invited to a small gathering for young apprentices in my first year, and he inspired me to achieve my goals and to keep working hard.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST MOMENT IN THE KITCHEN?
There have been many exciting orders – from 150 ball croquembouches, to finishing some amazing layered and textured cakes. For me the best moments are when I can teach my young chefs something new. Everyday I enjoy seeing them execute something technical to my standard – and even better sometimes!

YOUR WORST MOMENT?
Stirring 160 degrees sugar, getting distracted and having some splash over my hand OUCH!
The worst thing is the countless number of people who think that Silver or Gold leaf is kitchen foil and ask my staff to remove it off their dessert or cake before packing it for take-away…. it can be hard using this expensive garnish when few people have the knowledge of high class desserts.

WHAT FOOD/INGREDIENT DO YOU MOST LIKE TO WORK WITH & WHY?
Fine hand crafted dessertRicotta – as you can use it for so many applications, sweet, savoury, deserts, baking – its so versatile! But not all ricottas are not equal. We only use Hastings Valley from the Riverina of NSW. It pairs well with many flavours, like in our ricotta cheesecake we pair it with orange, cassia cinnamon and vanilla. In our current range we have used it to mix it with buffalo mozzarella and pair it with tart raspberry and forest fruit done four ways, chocolate to create a culinary experience.

 

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING YOUR BAKE RIGHT NOW & WHY?
It would have to be our Italian Christmas Panettone. Technically its not easy to get spot on, but we make our pannettone from our sourdough starter over 72h and its yeast free. The 48h is about building the structure slowly then the flavours, mixing three separated doughs then the final dough before injecting it with Nutella!

WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL FOOD OBSESSION – WHAT DO YOU LOVE EATING WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?
Basic Lebanese food – I love kebabs and garlic sauce and absolutely love hot chips. I also love a well made burger (not the large chain brands). But then again if my wife and I book a nice dinner – we prefer and appreciate food of the other extreme up to that of a 3 HAT standard.

WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR OTHERS WANTING TO BECOME CHEFS?
Dolcettini Dural Industrial sized kitchenWork Hard! Have a good attitude and open mind! Learn and listen to the more experienced people around you! Pursue your dream and know that success is not achieved overnight but comes to those who work hard!

WHAT FOOD TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN WESTERN SYDNEY?
I think the standard of food is slowly developing but there is still too many people doing the same as each other. In Sydney I think there needs to be more of an emphasis on creating not following. We are seeing top establishments from Sydney city branching into the west. This will increase the standard overall.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN NOT IN THE KITCHEN?
I love coming home and spending time with my little daughter Valentina and my wife Bianca. I also love going out to dinner were food is respected and corners are not cut in preparation of meals.
I still spend my time creating new products, and putting recipes together for my Chefs.

Read the review of Dolcettini here