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The People Behind the Plate: Head Chef Mario Scarcella, Locale

People Behind The Plate

With virtually a century of winemaking behind them, De Bortoli Wines has evolved from generations of family winemaking, tallying award wins and accolades and creating some of Australia’s most loved wines. In 2019, it added to its list of accolades when it was recognised by the Australian Financial Review’s BOSS Top 10 Most Innovative Companies List - the only winery to be named in the competition.

With a commitment to sustainability at the heart of their business, their on-site restaurant Locale, reflects their commitment to using the best seasonal, locally sourced produce with a nod to their Italian heritage.

Their sunny dining room overlooks the vines with a seasonal menu that’s perfectly matched with their estate-grown wines.

At the helm of the kitchen at Locale, Head Chef, Mario Scarcella, has brought his experience and love of preparing delicious authentic Italian cuisine with him, paying tribute to the culinary heritage and ingredients of his native Puglia, Italy.

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What was your introduction to food, your first food memories?

“When I think about my first food memories, I recall my childhood, when on different occasions like Christmas, Easter or other festivities all my family got together to share delicious food and celebrate moments,” he says.

Mario says his passion for cooking was ignited by an uncle who was also a chef.

“He took me into his kitchen when I was eleven. I remember it was fun, there were a lot of chefs and everyone tried their best to make my visit enjoyable, then after one year I started hospitality school in S. Cesarea Terme (Puglia) and at the age of fourteen I started my career in the kitchen.”

What do you love most about the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Region?

“I moved to work in The Yarra Valley just six months ago and I started to love it straight away. My daily drive to work gives me a chance to be surrounded by beautiful scenery that changes colour with the seasons,” he says.

“The chance to work closely with local food producers is something very rare to find elsewhere.”

What do you love about working at De Bortoli?

“In my whole career I always liked to have responsibility, to be the Head Chef of De Bortoli is a great responsibility that me and the whole Kitchen team highlight with the experience and care we provide to every customer,” he adds, adding that it’s the sense of community and support at De Bortoli in ensure the guest has the best dining experience that makes it worthwhile.

Do you have a favourite/signature dish on the menu at De Bortoli? Do you have a favourite season to cook in?

“It is hard to answer this question, however, if I have to pick a dish at the moment, definitely the Pork shoulder Raviolo is the right one to choose (pictured below) the filling is made with black pig from a local producer and the vegetables are from our garden.

“My favourite season to cook is definitely Summer. I come from a seaside location and definitely my cuisine is characterised by this aspect.”

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You’re hosting a dinner party, what would you feed them?

“My guests will have a chance to enjoy dishes from the Apulia region in Italy. Fish and vegetables cooked in a different way will be the protagonists, red and white wine, and last but not least Pasticciotto (an Italian-stye cream-filled pastry) for dessert.”