FROM Tuscany to Thailand, Christian Fogliani’s epicurean journey reads like a chef’s article in a glossy magazine.
Fifteen-years-ago as a wide-eyed youngster, the Perth chef packed his recipe books in search of opportunities abroad and learned the skills of his trade from kitchen supremos in central Europe.
He later refined that knowledge in some of the world’s most lavish resorts located in south-east Asia.
His first port of call began in a Tuscan hotel where he said it was not uncommon to see the Italian Prime Minister and other notable dignitaries dining among the guests.
Several years on Christian landed at the Maldives’ Huvafen Fushi, a retreat featured in the Condé Nast Traveller UK Hot List and named Best Beach Resort in the World, in the Harper’s Bazaar Travel Guide 2008.
During his two-and-a-half year sojourn, the young chef spotted Irish super-band U2 and Microsoft magnate Bill Gates among the resident celebrities.
Other highlights of his career include a stint at a restaurant in Piacenza, near Milan; a fifth-generation patisserie in Belgium; a Michelin-star restaurant in the south of Switzerland; the Six Senses Ana Mandara resort in Vietnam and the ALiLA resort group in Bali.
Christian today finds himself back in his home town of Perth, a move prompted by the recent birth of his son.
“Otherwise, I would have still been in south-east Asia, most likely in the Philippines,” he said.
Six weeks ago, he stepped out on his own with the opening of Azure, fronting Mt Hawthorn’s Scarborough Beach Road strip.
Diners familiar with Azure’s predecessor, the short-lived Bellissimo, may find themselves intrigued by this latest culinary kid on the block.
Dark rustic tones have gone, replaced with fresh hues and stylish finishes to create a resort-like ambience in an urban neighbourhood.
“I wanted to create a casual, lounge-y restaurant… I had worked in luxury dining and had done that for long enough,” he said.
Christian handpicked the fixtures and fittings, sourcing designs from 26 different suppliers around the world.
The leather used on the banquette seating comes from Italy, while the hand-made table linen is from Sri Lanka and the striking blue glassware from Finland.
“Having worked in resorts, I was involved in conceptualising restaurants from scratch and that is what I have applied here,” he said.
On the food front, Christian has drawn on his overseas’ experiences to plate up mod-Oz cuisine with a distinct Mediterranean influence.
The intention, he said, was to go down the route of simple food done well in accordance with the regional origins of favoured dishes.
“Our most popular dish at the moment is spaghetti bolognese, but it’s done with hand-made pappardelle and based on a 300-year-old recipe that I got when I worked in Tuscany,” he said.
Christian also makes smart use of the small, enclosed space adjacent to the restaurant, which during Bellissimo’s tenure at the site served as a deli.
It is now home to a patisserie, headed by Thai pastry chef Sayan Klaynuch who bakes all things sweet in-house, from Valrhona chocolate cake to crème brulee trio (flavourings of mocha, pistachio and vanilla bean).
“I think people tire of going to a café for coffee and cake and getting a huge piece of cake sourced from somewhere else,” he said.
“Here, it is all made from scratch.”