MEET BEN LEVENE, HEAD CHEF, LOCALE RESTAURANT, DE BORTOLI WINES YARRA VALLEY ESTATE
Ben’s motto is to give it 110% and that is exactly what he has done since he started with De Bortoli three years ago. His passion for food started when he was 16 on work experience at the Royal Automobile Club in London Pall Mall.
After completing the Specialised Chefs Scholarship at Bournemouth and Poole College (one of the best cooking schools in the UK) Ben found his way to Australia and Locale where he joined as Sous Chef and is now Head Chef. His average day starts with setting up the kitchen, prepping for service and making fresh pasta before checking off orders and planning for upcoming events.
“The fact that De Bortoli is run by a family really makes it feel like home” says Ben. The De Bortoli family spirit and his own memories of sitting around the dinner table drinking a glass of wine paired with delicious food is what inspires Ben’s food.
Expressing himself through creating dishes using the finest quality ingredients and produce is a passion of Ben’s - “the farm to plate approach really excites me and De Bortoli makes it easy with our vegetable and herb gardens. There is also an abundance of fantastic local produce in the Yarra Valley.”
It’s no wonder that Risotto with confit duck leg, truffle, wild mushroom and marjoram is Ben’s favourite meal. “Wild mushrooms are my favourite seasonal vegetable,” says Ben, “I just love the rich earthy flavour and aromatic smell… when pine mushrooms are in season, I just have to put them on my menu.”Ben enjoys exploring ways to incorporate wine in his cooking and his favourite wine match is our iconic Noble One with Tiramisu. “We use Noble One in the sabayon, it helps to cut through the rich, creamy mascarpone - it’s delicious!”
A TIP FROM BEN
"Don’t try to over complicate it! Keep it simple; lighter wines with lighter dishes like fish, more robust wines with meats and Rosé for everything else."
DID YOU KNOW?
Ben’s most memorable meal was a dish he didn’t make himself. His fiancé made him a dish she called “No Carb-onara” - carbonara with zucchini noodles. Ben was shocked when she told him half way through the meal that it wasn’t pasta - he was more surprised he didn’t pick it up himself!