Success was always on the menu for Natalia Gaspari, the chef and owner of the Ble Greek Kouzina Restaurant at Ramsgate Beach, but she didn’t expect it to arrive so soon.
Natalia moved to Australia from Greece seven years ago, at the age of 21.
Just over six months ago she was able to realise her lifetime dream of opening her own restaurant.
This week her hard work and talent were recognised when she was awarded a Chef’s Hat in the Australian Good Food Guide Awards.
And as an added thrill, she has put Ramsgate on Sydney’s culinary map.
Natalia was named a One-Hat chef in the 2019 Australian Good Food Guide awards – one of only 25 female chefs from across Australia selected for the award.
Chef’s Hat Awards are presented for food and based on ingredients, taste, presentation, technique, value and consistency.
AGFG inspectors are selected for their qualification and experience. Their identities are kept strictly confidential and inspectors always dine anonymously and always pay full fare.
“This award is a privilege and fantastic news for our area,” Natalia said. “It’s extremely hard for a suburb to achieve something like this so quickly,” Natalia said.
Natalia was born on the Greek island of Kefalonia, the setting for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and uses Kefalonian dishes with a modern twist.
Dishes include a kakavia shell stew, lamb done over a charcoal grill and classic Greek deserts.
The menu also specialises in Greek wines.
Arriving in Sydney, Natalia started cooking at the famous Hellenic Club and worked at the club’s Alpha Restaurant and Beta Bar and Gallery.
But it was always her dream to open her own restaurant she was was able to do at Ramsgate in February this year.
Natalia knew she was on the right track when she got a good review from the Good Food Guide achieving a rating of 15 out of 20.
She never thought she was win a Chef’s Hat award after being open for business just over six-months.
“It was a life dream but this achievement is the biggest payment for all my hard work,” Natalia said.
“I didn’t think at a suburb like Ramsgate would get to this point.”
She chose Ramsgate because she felt it was ready for her style of restaurant.
“I’ve lived here from the last two years and everytime I wanted to go out I had to go to the city,” she said.
“I wanted to stay local and it’s a beautiful area.
“I wanted to share my love of Greek food with the neighbourhood. Because it is a suburban restaurant people don’t really understand what we are providing. Hopefully, they will now.
“We provide the best of Greek food, wine and hospitality.”