How a chef cooks for those he loves

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Cooked
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13 February, 2018

Skipping the crowds in favour of a lovingly prepared meal at home is your best bet for a romantic Valentine’s Day. Here, acclaimed chef Jock Zonfrillo of Adelaide's Restaurant Orana and Bistro Blackwood shares a bit about his idea of a nice night in.

Image credit: Jacqui Way


While you might think that for chefs an occupational hazard would be less enthusiasm for cooking at home, for Jock Zonfrillo it’s the opposite. In fact, he gravitates to the place he feels most comfortable in his time off. “Nine times out of ten if I’m at home, I’m standing in the kitchen,” he says.

Jock’s passion for his work is apparent in the way he talks about food. That ‘fire in the belly’ is a part of his personality and when he’s not thinking up dishes at his restaurants, he’s focussed on his family. For an occasion such as Valentine’s Day, would he cook with his wife at home? “Definitely. I’m half Italian, so there’s a romantic side there for sure. For me, making ravioli and those kinds of dishes is my idea of romantic food,” he says.

Many would agree that Italy has one of the world’s most romantic cultures. Maybe it’s to do with the rhythm of the language and the beauty of the landscapes, but when it comes to food, we think it’s about the freshness and simplicity of the ingredients, and the way that wine is incorporated into meals (even breakfast!).

If you don’t fancy Italian, however, that’s OK. According to Jock, no matter what cuisine you choose to cook, there is an intimacy to be found in making food for and with those you care about. “To cook together, sit down with a glass of wine and share some food, that’s an act of love in itself,” he says. “We do it regularly and often with the kids, as well as for friends.”

In addition to a glass of wine with food, Jock enjoys spirits. “I’m half Italian, but the other half of me is Scottish, so more often than not I’ll drink a glass of whisky at home. I’m a lover of single malts. On warmer days or afternoons, it would have to be a gin and tonic. Most often we’re drinking Australian gins – there are so many now and we tend to rattle through any we see that look interesting. I was at home in Scotland the other month and picked up a few from there I hadn’t seen before too. For a garnish, we use a native shrub called Geraldton wax, which has a flavour similar to kaffir lime or lemongrass. Other garnishes we use are aniseed myrtle and finger lime. If I was having a Hendricks though, I’d make a cucumber tonic to mix it with – it depends on the gin.”

A Valentine’s Day Menu
Inspired by Jock Zonfrillo

Entrée: Octopus, radicchio and macadamia

Main: Ravioli with spinach

Dessert: Italian cheesecake jars with seasonal fruit

Next: Win hearts with these 39 irresistible chocolate recipes

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