MEET MASSIMO MELE ON HIS PURSUIT OF PASSION WITH CHEFWORKS | MUNCH ON TASMANIA
Out the back of a restaurant in Hobart’s northern suburbs, a blonde-haired boy is sitting on a milk crate among pots and pans, waiters and wine bottles, watching his mother and father cook and hearing them recollect the days of old in Italy.
It wouldn’t be Massimo Mele’s first introduction to Italia. He was born in Tasmania then spent his early years in Naples, beneath the shadow of Mount Vesuvius playing on cobblestones and practicing the language of his forebears.
Amid boisterous chatter in a crowded kitchen, Massimo helped his Nonna chop tomatoes for passata and watched his aunts fry artichokes. A knock at the door signaled the arrival of ricotta, carried in a basket atop an old lady’s head. With more fresh produce handpicked from around the region, the family would sit and feast before cracking open a watermelon to finish.
A curiosity for food had begun and beyond returning with his parents and brothers to the Apple Isle when he was eight, Massimo’s food journey took flight.
He’d spend school holidays working in the restaurant, introducing locals to honest Italian fare made from the epicurean treasures of Tasmania. But there was always time to help his mother Maria bake capsicums or knead gnocchi. And play soccer.
As if realising the inevitable, Massimo committed to a career in the kitchen in his late teens. He worked in notable Hobart restaurants amid the dawn of Modern Australian cuisine but never lost sight of his culinary heritage.