As Demi Chef at The Star Gold Coast’s Italian favourite, Cucina Vivo, Amber Heaton knows a thing or two about cooking, and more specifically, Italian cuisine. Here, Amber reflects on the cooking lessons she learnt from her mum with an Italian heritage – the importance of using fresh produce, treating ingredients with respect and care, and the beauty of simplicity.
There’s a lot to love about pasta. From a creamy roasted pumpkin and ricotta tortellini or a blue cheese gnocchi with walnut and fig, to a classic rigatoni with ragù, pasta is a dish that not only fills one’s tummy, but the soul, too.
And, for Amber Heaton – Demi Chef at Cucina Vivo, The Star Gold Coast’s signature Italian dining venue, a role that sees her manage all things pasta for the restaurant – it has been a life-long passion, from when she took her first bite of her mum’s famed lasagne.
Growing up with a mother with an Italian background who loved to cook, as a child Amber was often found in the kitchen helping her mother create culinary delights for friends and family.
“I always used to bake with mum – I was 22 months old when I first started! We would often make lots of sweets such as cupcakes, cakes and chocolate balls. The best part about baking with mum is that I was always allowed to lick the beaters after we were finished.”
Food and cooking have always been a big part of Amber’s life, helping shape her into the talented young chef she is today.
“Food is very special in our family as my mother’s side of the family is Italian, and as you know, Italians love their food and any reason to get together for a celebration! Food brings us all together – we always meet at significant times of the year to cook and bake traditional recipes.
From incorporating the freshest quality produce and ingredients to ensuring nothing is wasted in the cooking process, there are lots of things Amber has learnt about cooking from her mum, who Amber says remains her biggest inspiration.
“She always cooks from the heart.”
Loving, caring, generous and always putting others first are some of the other reasons why Amber is grateful for her mum. And, she cherishes all the memories made they’ve made together.
“I have been lucky enough to make so many amazing memories with mum already in 21 years. When I was playing AFL, mum would come to every game with oranges and lollies for everyone. She still supports me through my career now. We have shared many laughs and wonderful times together, and I’m looking forward to many more.
My mum is always there for me, whether it’s for advice, or even a shoulder to cry on. I’m thankful for her dealing with my meltdowns before a competition and letting me take over her kitchen bench space and fridge when I’m training.
She is one of the strongest women I know, and I hope when I’m a mother one day I will be just like her.”
You can explore the delicious range of pasta dishes Amber has learnt from her mum at Cucina Vivo at The Star Gold Coast. Book your table now at Cucina Vivo.