‘I began my training in an Italian kitchen where English was not spoken and I was quickly taught the language and culture…’
Introducing Executive Head chef of Sarino’s, Alex Keene. He had his passion for food nurtured early, as growing up in a family of horticulturalists meant he was certain to grow up appreciating fresh produce. And coming from a generation of chefs who undertook strenuous apprenticeships, he has perfected his skills from the ground up to become the celebrity Italian chef he is today. His training in an Italian kitchen fostered a love of traditional dishes, and a standard of work ethic that gave him the opportunity to work alongside a list of highly regarded chefs.
Selected as star apprentice by Alessandro Pavoni (Ormeggio, Chiosco, and a’Mare) at Ormeggio Restaurant, Alex began to hone in on his fine dining skills, and his talent saw him quickly work his way up to sous chef. Since then he describes highlights of his culinary journey as cooking for celebrities to the likes of Marco Pierre White, the Roco brothers (owners of El Celler de Can Roca in Spain), former Prime Minister John Howard, and catering for the Oatley family.
2015 saw Alex open Via Alta alongside Alessandro Pavoni and Bill Drakopoulos (Sydney Restaurant Group), from whom he received training in the operations required to run a successful restaurant. The resounding success of the venture was recognised by the SMH, earning it a place in the Good Food Guide after having an enthusiastic review from chief restaurant critic Terry Durack. The celebrity chef’s restaurant also received a special feature on the Sydney Weekender tv program.
Ever the quiet achiever, Alex has acquired numerous personal accolades in recognition of his talent. Receiving national recognition as an apprentice, Alex was chosen as a guest celebrity chef on Masterchef Australia Season 3, where he competed in a nail-biting challenge against contestant Hayden Quinn, cooking Ormeggio’s Agnolotti Bagoss dish. 2014 saw Alex crowned Young Italian Chef of the Year, receiving a trip around Italy alongside a sommelier, and a scholarship to attend world renowned culinary school ALMA, outside of Parma, where he completed courses in wine and cooking. And it was only natural that with his authentic expertise in Italian cuisine, Alex co-wrote ‘A Lombardian Cookbook’ with Alessandro that highlighted traditional dishes from the Italian region.
At Sarino’s Restaurant and Bar Alex hopes to create an ever changing seasonal menu with diversity, where you will rarely find two dishes with the same ingredients. He values not overcomplicating things and letting the produce speak for itself; making everything from pasta, preserved vegetables, and our unique rosemary infused Wagyu fat candle fresh in house. Alex’s years of Italian culinary experience make him a valuable find in the industry; our very own celebrity chef made to bring Sarino’s Colosimo Family heritage to life through his menu.
‘I strive to make a balanced menu that is approachable yet has a few hidden gems in there as well…’
For Sarino’s Restaurant Manager Richard Kemp, the influence of food and wine was instilled in him from past generations. His European parents emphasised the importance of ‘fresh produce, handled with respect and served with love’, which helped cultivate his present approach to food and wine.
Richard found a dedication to food in his mother’s restaurants, and began his journey from there. In a small French restaurant he undertook his apprenticeship, and his qualifications led him to Whistler, Canada, cooking for celebrities to the likes of Schwarzenegger, Pierce Brosnan, and Seal. During the Summer months he took charge as Head Chef at Davlay by the Sea, a well known hotel used in the TV series Road to Avonlea and the Anne of Green Gables films. It was there he developed his style with food and the venue was deservingly awarded a Hat 3 times in their culinary guide.
After a 10 year culinary journey away, Richard’s childhood dream of opening his own restaurant brought home back to Australia. Complete with vegetable gardens, Eschalot Restaurant was born in the Southern Highlands. It is a testament that while owned and operated by Richard for 15 years, Eshalot received various awards from SMH 1 Hat ratings, to Gourmet Traveler Wine List of the Year, AGFG 2 Hat ratings, and Restaurant of the Year, all multiple times.
At present, Richard finds joy in working with various venues, guiding them with training, refinement and development. As well as playing in harmony as a self described ‘pseudo musician’, Richard delivers in skillfully creating a balanced, harmonious menu of food and wine lists as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier at Sarino’s Restaurant and Bar.