10 Questions With Danny Russo

10 Questions With..., Sydney / 5 February 2014

Danny Russo, the newly appointed Head Chef at Star Bar , is passionate  for all things Italian. Inspired by his childhood growing up in Italy he brings Italian food with a modern twist to the menu. We caught up with Danny for a chat about his favourite restaurant to work in overseas, favourite childhood memory and any big plans for 2014.
starbar hotel
1. You specialise in modern Italian cuisine; what inspired you to take this path?
It’s a natural progression for any young chef who respects the classic dishes and believes in evolution. The inspiration comes from the ingredients, taste and cooking methods used to get the end result, then you display you interpretation . You break down the cooking methods, techniques, ingredients all the while you are trying to keep the integrity of the dish and its heritage. This can only be achieved by understanding the philosophy behind the dishes and regions.
2. What’s your favourite childhood foodie memory?
My favourite childhood food memory is watching my mother make fresh pasta by hand. I was about 4 years of age and used to eat the raw pasta from the table when my mother wasn’t looking.
3. You’ve worked in kitchens all across Europe, where was your favourite to work and why?
My favourite kitchen to work in was at Rhodes in the square, London. It was the first time that I had cooked modern British food. It was a real eye opener as I had only cooked Italian or classic French. Due to the fact that they have proper seasons, you always look forward to what’s coming up in seasonal produce– whether it’s the wild berries for the summer pudding or foraging for the wild mushrooms or when it’s game season(grouse in particular), this is something every young chef should experience.
4. With so many culinary awards and achievements in your career, what award have you been most proud of?
When I won my first cooking award at college in 1990, 20 years later I was the special guest giving out that same award at the same college
5. You’re the consultant chef at the recently transformed Star Bar – tell us a bit about what we can expect to see on the menu.
Simple Italian food with some retro feel to it (spaghetti meatballs is a prime example). It’s a large classic Italian menu that caters to every market, whether you want a quick bowl of pasta or pizza or a three course meal.
6. Top three ingredients you can’t live without?
Chilli, eggplant & lardo
7. Italian cuisine withstanding, what is your next favourite cuisine to cook/eat?
Easily my favourite cuisine outside Italian is Indian. My mate Kumar Mahadevan from Aki’s Indian Restaurant, Sydney, is a very passionate & amazing Indian chef and we often have fun in his kitchen. We exchange recipes and ideas, then we set down to a feast.
8. Any big plans for 2014 you can let us in on?
I’m planning on going to the gym just like 2013, 2012 …..
9. Where is your favourite place to EAT in Sydney?
Porteno in Surry Hills. Great food, great service – consistency as its best
10. Where do you like grabbing a DRINK in Sydney?
Hemmesphere – they make a great Negroni – my favourite drink
11. In your time off, where do you PLAY in Sydney?
Balmain, having coffee with my mates at Bertoni’s