Gabor Denes – recently promoted to Culinary Director at Fratelli Fresh – trained in French cuisine, but it is the simplicity of Italian food that he truly loves.
Brought up in the busy town of Garmisch-Partenkirch in Germany, Gabor’s culinary inspiration hails from his mother, whose exquisite chocolate mousse is famous among family and friends.
Gabor learned to cook when he was 14 years old, with guidance from his mother’s vast recipe collection. He enjoyed playing around with the simple things, particularly pasta, experimenting with all different shapes and sizes.
Gabor was determined to drop out of school, so his mother convinced him to try his hand at cooking professionally. Within a week of applying, Gabor was offered an apprenticeship at distinguished 5-star hotel Reindl’s Partenkirchner Hof, where he learned about traditional French cuisine.
On the first day of the job, it clicked: “This is awesome. This is what I want to do,” Gabor says.
Gabor stayed three years, before moving on to Schloss Elmau, an exquisite hotel hidden in a valley between the Bavarian Alps. It was here that his fascination with fine cuisine really flourished. The team in the kitchen would forage for their own herbs, work with local fisherman to get their catch, and cook with meat sourced from nearby farmers.
In 2012, Gabor was offered a job at the acclaimed Amador Restaurant in Abu Dhabi, working under Chef Juan Amador. He stayed for one year before moving to Sydney in 2013, where he worked at Rockpool Dining Group’s Ananas until April 2016.
Since then Gabor has worked with Fratelli Fresh, first as Corporate Chef while fulfilling his role as resident Head Chef at Fratelli Bridge Street, and currently as Culinary Director overseeing the kitchen brigades at all six restaurants in Sydney. His creativity in the kitchen is used with great effect to further develop the ever-evolving menus.
Gabor likes to use seasonal herbs and vegetables that are a little out of the ordinary. Fratelli’s Caprese salad, for example, isn’t just made with your standard tomato – Gabor switches between heirlooms or oxhearts depending on the time of year.
Being well practised in cooking French fare, Gabor admits that the Italian style is different. However, fresh produce is something both cuisines use to enhance unique and distinct cultural flavours.
Gabor’s favourite day in the restaurant is Friday: “When you’re in the kitchen, you can really feel the atmosphere from the floor. It’s busy, it’s stressful, it’s pumping, and the harder you’re pushed, the better the reward,” he says.