Giovanni Pilu grew up on the rugged untamed island of Sardinia, which has long been a place apart from mainland Italy, separated by language, culture and history as well as geography, where the rhythm of life is still largely determined by the seasons. The year is punctuated by numerous festivals to celebrate local produce, successful harvests and patron saints – any excuse for whole villages to come together to cook, eat, drink and enjoy each other’s company. The above photo shows Giovanni and his father serving a cauldron of soup at the festival for Sant’Elia, the patron saint of their village Sa Serra in Sassari in the northeast of the island.
Giovanni began his hospitality career in his uncle’s bar in Olbia, then gained experience in the kitchens of various coastal resort hotels. There he met Marilyn Annechini, an Australian of Italian descent on a working holiday in Sardinia. When she headed back to Australia, Giovanni followed, arriving in Sydney in 1992.
In 1997, he opened Cala Luna at The Spit where he introduced Sydneysiders to a few Sardinian specialities. Then, in 2004, he and Marilyn opened Pilu at Freshwater where they’ve crafted a total dining experience around authentic Sardinian food, wine and hospitality. The Pilu family has now expanded to include the adjoining kiosk, Pilu Baretto, and Acqua Fresca by Pilu at Harbord Digger’s Club.
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