Francesco Mauro – Chef Bio
My story starts in the early 90s in northeast of Italy where I was born.
I grew up on a property in the rural northeast of Italy, in the region called Friuli Venezia Giulia where we had pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and lots of veggies, as my dad grew up in a family of farmers, he didn’t like to go to grocery stores unless necessary.
They didn’t have too much, they had very little to go around when he was a kid, but they were very resourceful, some would forage, some hunt, some fish, cure meats, make cheeses and pickles.
40 years separate myself & Dad, so by the time I was born he had mastered his craft and started to teach me and my brother these skills from a very young age.
Every year when winter arrived, I was very happy because I could stay home from school to go make salami and what not for the whole day. It was such a good day, wake up early, get the pig, butcher it, eat, process it, eat again, it was almost a celebration day (We only did it in the cold months as we never used curing cells, in fact I only started to use them not long ago).
The only things we didn’t use from the animal, was the longs and the guts, everything else was eaten. Wasting any type of food wasn’t something that anyone could do. My dad fell in love with food from a very young age, his mum was an even better cook than he is, probably the fact that she worked in France for 3 years in the 30’s, I think helped a little!
Dad used to take me everywhere with him. One day was hunting, one day fishing, make cheeses or jams, pasta, gnocchi, passata, pickles with grandma, so every day was something different.
He taught me when to harvest vegetables and grains, what to feed the pigs to produce richness in the meat, how to cure things properly, how to fish in many different ways, how to cure products with only fire and air, how to cook with fire, how to build a clay oven on the river banks, but most importantly, to be respectful of the ingredients and animals we use, as they gave their life for us.
Due to that I’m really into Nose to Tail type of cooking, what’s seasonal and I really love game.
I started my cooking school when I was 13, as the schooling system is very different to Australia back home, by the time I was 18 I finished my diploma and my apprenticeship, which I did in this lovely 50 seat Agriturismo (do be defined as Agriturismo which is a type of restaurant that must produce 60% of the products used in the business).
After that I moved to a 250-seat restaurant that only cooked seafood on charcoal, it was a very different experience but equally interesting. Just before I turned 19, I came to Australia.
I landed in Sydney in October 2011, a few weeks before my birthday, a friend of mine picked me up and took me to Vaucluse where he had organised an accommodation for me with a friend of his.
2 days after I started to work for my landlord at Plumer Road chicken shop in Rose Bay, where we use to do Italian and Thai, aside from chickens, burgers etc.
After about a year I moved to Paddington where I started my new job at the Paddington Inn, from there I moved in a few venues owned by Merivale and then I decided to go to Asia.
I spent a good year between Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam, I loved the food, the culture, and the differences in food between each region of every country, probably because it sent me back home for a second here and there.
When I came back to Australia, I got sponsored in Surry hills at MR Crackles where I worked for 3 years while studying Asian cuisine.
In 2017 I met my wife to be and decided to move to Melbourne.
I Got a job at LEMONGRASS in Carlton, I worked there for 3 years then…COVID arrived, the restaurant had to close so me and Head Chef PAULA BERTUS worked together for about a year doing Chef’s table dinners at guest houses or for bigger events when possible. After a while me and my wife Elena decided we had enough of big cities and wanted to go back to the country, where we both felt at home.
That’s when I got the job with the Ducks in Nimbo, thank God for that, and as they say, ‘the rest is history’.