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Prawns, pork and momos

Bharat Ojha is the chef at Mooloolaba's Bella Venezia

My Life

Prawns, pork and momos

Bella Venezia has revamped its menu under the guidance of chef Bharat Ojha. MWP caught up with him to find out more about the man in the kitchen.

What’s your favourite go-to meal at home?
Steamed chicken momos, delicious with my dipping sauce.

What’s your favourite local produce?
I try to source everything locally, especially fruit, vegetables and seafood. We use Mooloolaba prawns on our menu, we have a few dishes that include them as I want to use them as much as possible. They are fresh and the best in quality. I also use the shells for my house-made seafood bisque to go with the sand crab lasagne, so we are making most use of every part of the prawn.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Don’t cook with your hand, cook with your heart.

What’s the strangest meal request you’ve ever had?
Tomato bruschetta, without the tomatoes.

What do you enjoy most about working on the Sunshine Coast?
The beautiful weather, except it gets too hot in the kitchen.

What task do you love being able to hand over to your apprentice and why?
Peeling seafood and prawns and making pasta, because those tasks take the longest.

Talk us through the process of creating a new dish:
Creating a new dish is fun, but a complicated task. I start with my main produce. For example, if I want to use pork belly on the menu, then I start looking at what other components go well with it. After deciding on flavour and textures, you need to keep in mind how and where everything will be placed on the plate, because presentation is a very important aspect of cooking. As they say, you eat with your eyes before you eat with your mouth.

What do you think Sunshine Coast diners are looking for?
I think people here are looking for simple and healthy food with lots of local produce. Because people want to know what they are eating and where it is coming from.

What would be your last meal on earth?

Piece of equipment you can’t live without?
Thermomix is my favourite piece of equipment. It is useful for so many tasks in the kitchen.

Who is or was your inspiration?
My mum is my main inspiration. But I also look up to chefs like Ferran Adria from Spain, whose belief was to stimulate the brain as well as mouth with food. Also, Virgilio Martínez Véliz from Peru, who uses natural ingredients in the best way possible.


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