Insights & Advice Brought to you by
Retail Advertising and Marketing Design, Arts and Architecture Media and Digital Hospitality
All Resources Features Advice Events

La Famiglia: Meet the Mother, Daughter and Son Running the Kitchen at One of Melbourne’s Favourite Venues

Could you work with your brother, sister or mother? What about all of them? We meet the family running the kitchen at Brunetti Classico to find out how they make it work.

It’s almost 12pm and Brunetti Classico is buzzing – there’s a crowd at the front ordering pastries, sleepy students and busy professionals collecting coffee orders from the bar, dozens of seated diners and waitstaff zipping around with lunch orders. It’s loud, but there’s a controlled chaos to everything happening. But When you turn to watch the kitchen crew, working their way through dozens of the stream of order dockets, what you’ll notice first is the silence.

“We don’t really talk that much during service, there’s a bit of an unspoken bond and an understanding between us,” Davide Di Girolamo tells Scout. Davide is the head chef at Brunetti Classico, and the bond he mentions is among the kitchen team comprising himself, his mother Alexandra (sous chef), as well as his sister Nicole (chef de partie).

Add image description

“Many businesses will tell you that they’re ‘like a family’, but for us it’s literal,” Davide says. “Some people think it would be hard working with your mother and sister, but we all click and the kitchen runs so smoothly here.”

The kitchen chemistry stems from the Di Girolamo family’s upbringing in their native Italy. Mother Alexandra used to run a restaurant in Italy where she worked long hours as a head chef. In true family business fashion, Davide and Nicole spent a large part of their childhood playing (and occasionally helping) in the restaurant. As they got older, the kids began cooking with Mum and the restaurant became their first job and second home.

“Davide and Nicole picked up these hospitality skills subconsciously just from growing up in that environment, watching me cook and helping out,” Alexandra says. “All that time we spent together, as well as the family bond, allowed us to develop this synergy where we know the right moment to move behind someone, the right time to reach across to help plate something up, or when to throw a pan on the fire.”

Add image description

The trio moved to Australia in 2014, opening a restaurant in Ivanhoe shortly afterwards. Once the kids grew up and sought work elsewhere, Davide found Brunetti Classico through recommendation from an Italian friend. In 2017, Davide applied for the job as a pizza chef and was successful, then in 2022, when the head chef position became vacant, Davide was offered the role, and he accepted.

“I initially applied because I came to see the restaurant and it was beautiful, it reminded me of Italy and it was so busy – I loved how much energy there was in here,” Davide says. “When I became head chef, I needed to hire a sous chef, and I thought it would be interesting to ask my Mum. I knew she had the skills and we worked well together, so I was pleased when she accepted the role.”

Alexandra joined the Brunetti Classico team as a sous chef and Nicole followed shortly afterwards when an opening for a chef de partie came up. It was a family reunion for the Di Girolamos and a blessing for Brunetti Classico customers. You’ll regularly find curious customers asking Alexandra what her secret to good authentic Italian dishes is.

“Obviously working with my children is the best part for me, but a lot of what I love about Brunetti Classico is being able to share my family recipes with people and cook for a crowd,” Alexandra says. “Without giving away too many of our secrets, our family meatballs are a hit.”

The recipe to Brunetti Classico maintaining its status as a Melbourne institution is the Italian tradition of families cooking together and sharing their learnings with the next generation. While some of the techniques are traditional, Nicole says new technology in the kitchen makes working a breeze.

“The technology at Brunetti Classico is awesome, it helps us keep up with demand without compromising on traditional techniques,” Nicole says. “We have so many customers coming through each day, so things like the machine that helps us make massive lasagne sheets and the rotating pizza oven give us time to focus on the details that make the food stand out.”

Add image description

Kitchens can often breed high tensions and high pressure, but Nicole says the family never argues.

“I think we get along so well because the culture at Brunetti Classico is all about honesty, and that reflects our values as people and as a family,” she says. “If something isn’t good enough, we never hesitate to tell each other, and that extends to the entire kitchen team – everyone is accountable, which makes us all perform better. That’s why the food is so great and people keep coming back!”

If Brunetti Classico sounds like the type of venue you’d like to work at, you’re in luck. They’re hiring for multiple positions at the moment. Apply below.

Assistant Manager

Head Barista

This article is produced by Scout Jobs in partnership with Brunetti Classico.

Photography by Amy Hemmings

Add image description

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare via email