Published On: 19 January 2021Categories: Stories

Tasmanian-born, Italian-raised chef, restaurateur and philanthropist, Massimo Mele, has joined Loaves and Fishes Tasmania as a brand ambassador.

Fellow chef and Loaves and and Fishes general manager, Aaron Kropf, said he was delighted to welcome the much-loved Tasmanian to the Loaves and Fishes team.

“I’ve long admired Massimo’s passion for Tasmania, great food, fresh local produce, family and those doing it tough,” Aaron said.

“He’s a good bloke who has proven himself as a worthy advocate for our State’s most vulnerable through the many charitable causes he supports which now includes Loaves and Fishes.”

Massimo said he was excited to be working with Loaves and Fishes, including with the adult and school-based trainees working throughout the organisation.

“After years in the hospitality industry, it is a great feeling to be able to come home and give back,” he said.

“Everyone should be educated in food waste and have access to the tools to help reduce it. Equally important, everyone should have access to a nutritious and delicious meal, and if I can help Loaves and Fishes in any way, then I am in the right place.”

Massimo’s pedigree traces a rich culinary heritage started in Tasmania in his parents’ restaurant and honed in local and international kitchens, returning full circle to the Apple Isle. He has also taken up the mantle of Food Director at one of Tasmania’s newest and most prestigious venues, Grain of the Silos in Launceston.

He has also been named as Culinary Director of a new produce-driven Italian restaurant opening this year in Hobart. The restaurant is Australia’s first Luxury Collection hotel, The Tasman, in the Parliament Square precinct.

He collaborates both locally and interstate to deliver quality ingredients with no fuss. His food can be sampled at Hobart’s iconic annual event, Dark Mofo Winter Feast as well as a number of pop up events across the State.

Massimo aligns himself with Audi Centre Hobart and Electrolux Australia.

Massimo shares some of his food journey on his website, some excerpts are below:

Massimo Mele
 Rich history

“He was born in Tasmania then spent his early years in Naples, beneath the shadow of Mount Vesuvius playing on cobblestones and practising 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 signalled 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.

Massimo’s big break came on a whim wearing a shabby suit. He’d spotted an ad for a chef in the classifieds and figured he’d give it a crack. So he borrowed the ill-fitting outfit from a friend and flew to Melbourne where he met Chef Roberto Castellanni Donovan.

The acclaimed industry stalwart invited Massimo to work at Donovan’s, a dining institution on the sands of St. Kilda. Here Massimo’s fervour for food sprouted, as did his skills, which he eventually brought home to Tasmania.

Young Chef of the Year

He opened Mud Bar and Restaurant in the state’s northern city of Launceston, which soon won industry praise and earned Massimo recognition at the Lexus Young Chef of the Year Awards.

Hungry for more knowledge, Massimo took off around the world and spent time cooking on the Amalfi Coast and tending to his family’s tomato farm in the hills of Naples. Armed with more knowledge and enthusiasm, Massimo returned to run Hugo’s Group kitchens across Sydney, then become Executive Chef at La Scala on Jersey.

There were regular appearances on television, awards, reviews and trips overseas to cook for dignitaries and divas. But the lure of the Isle and all her riches has been strong. So Massimo returned to host his own pop up dinners called Tutti a Tavola and collaborate with local producers around Tasmania.

It’s a state that unassumingly serves up stocks of fat fish, delicately-marbled beef, red dirt smudged spuds, vivid veggies, handpicked cherries and black truffles so stinky the hogs are dying to find them.

Massimo soon got his hands on the lot, hosting street feasts and guest appearances at specialty dinners – an extension of his business, Food by Massimo.”

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