Former Moe resident and Da Nunzio’s apprentice Michael Demagistris has rubbed shoulders with the best on reality cooking show, MasterChef The Professionals – one of many achievements in a career that has taken off from his Latrobe Valley beginnings.
Sorrento Golf Club’s head chef, Mr Demagistris has made an impression in the MasterChef kitchen, making it to the top 10 after shining in an elimination challenge, aired on Tuesday night.
He competed in a “massive challenge” against fellow chef, Cameron Bailey, and prepared a three-course meal for about 60 people, where strategy and well-cooked food saw him make it through.
After beginning his career as an 18 year-old at Italian restaraunt Da Nunzio’s in Moe, learning to make bolognese and pizza dough, Mr Demagistris completed his apprenticeship under Trevor Perkins at Kingston Heath Golf Club and then moved on as chef de partie at Jacques Reymond in Prahran.
Mr Demagistris said he did not apply for the competition, but was recommended to the producers by a Daylesford chef and he “jumped into it straight away”.
Staying tight-lipped on upcoming challenges and how far he made it, Mr Demagistris could only say he was proud of his efforts, putting “100 per cent” into each challenge.
“Everything has just been phenomenal. I can’t wait until (the series) is finished and people see how well I’ve gone,” he said.
Mr Demagistris said he loved working with different ingredients, cooking different cuisines and “coming up with something different every time”.
He said he had been around food from an early age when he would cook with his two grandmothers and his mother, whose specialty was “beautiful desserts”.
“My Nonna, being Italian, and my Nanna, being Ukrainian, they pretty much always cooked; whether it was making fresh pasta, meatballs, sausages and salamis and from my other grandmas we’d make soups, dumplings and cabbage rolls,” he said.
His parents, Pash and Sandra Demagistris, still live in Moe and said they were “extremely proud” of their son.
“Michael has always been quite ambitious,” Pash Demagistris said.
Cooking in restaurants all over the world are also highlights of Mr Demagistris’ career, including world number one-ranked Danish restaurant Noma two years ago.
“I’m also taking a trip in about four months, again I got another opportunity to go over to Switzerland, Venice, Geneva… on a produce tour,” he said.
“My dream is to open up my own restaurant on the Mornington Peninsula, quite up-market style of restaurant, using local and seasonal produce from around the area.”
“My dream is to become one of the best chefs in Australia.”