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Leigh Marino

I had a modest beginning to my career, finishing high school and heading straight into an apprenticeship at the local pub in Trafalgar. Due to my Italian heritage I have been surrounded by beautiful food and wine from an early age. To me, food means more than just to eat, it’s what brings my whole family together.

I was 'Baptized by Chef' by Joseph Vargetto, (Mister Bianco, Massi) at the famous Oyster Little Bourke Restaurant in Melbourne. Joe fuelled my strong work ethic whilst honing and refining my new found skills. After three years of dedication, I travelled around the globe before coming back to Melbourne, where I helped transform Oyster Little Bourke into Mezzo, working alongside Chef and now dear friend Mauro Callegari (The Independent, Gembrook).

After 5 years in Melbourne, I was driven to work in a Michelin Star Restaurant. I was fortunate to get a position with Carlo Cracco, the Italian innovator and poster boy of modern Italian cuisine. At Ristorante Cracco I continued to fine tune & perfect my skills under the watchful eyes of some of the best Italian chefs in the business.

Back in Melbourne I worked alongside Chef/Restauranteur Scott Pickett to open his first venture, Estelle. Running the kitchen and absorbing as much knowledge I could from Pickett before taking the leap to open my first restaurant, Big Spoon Little Spoon in Warragul. And I am now an owner / director of the Courthouse Restaurant & Garden Bar, a stunning heritage building in the heart of Warragul CBD.