Thirteen years ago Sava Jovanovic began working as an apprentice chef in a trendy Sydney bistro.
"It was being thrown in the deep end right at the start, not knowing about the industry, fresh out of high school," he said.
But the challenge did not prove insurmountable as Jovanovic, now an Albury chef, honed his skills at a variety of city restaurants.
"Every place I've gone to I've picked up something different," he said.
"It was a great learning curve for me at that time.
"I guess I just have the hunger and passion for food, always looking to better myself and do something better than the last dish."
Jovanovic's passion for food was forged from watching his mother cook in the family kitchen.
"Food was a massive part of my growing up, just the happiness and the joy that comes from sharing a meal with someone," he said.
"It was just something that brought the family together."
IN OTHER NEWS:
At Beer DeLuxe Albury, the weekly burger specials have been attracting attention.
"I'm trying to bring my spin on burgers," Jovanovic said.
"It's a bit out there, a bit different and I think Albury's taken really well to it and it's creating some good hype."
He enjoys putting his own stamp on food choices generally at the bistro.
"Just excite people with something that you might not normally see on a basic pub menu," he said.
"It's become second nature being in the kitchen and I can't see myself being anywhere else."
What's your favourite winter dish?
Definitely a fair dinkum roast, such a communal meal made for sharing, whether it would be a nice rolled shoulder of pork with all its glorious crackle or a a juicy lamb rack, crispy duck fat spuds, roast veg and a rich pan gravy made with all that amazing roast meat dripping is a must too. Bonus points for the oven doubling as a heater on those extra cold nights.
What's your favourite season?
Depending on what season we're in I'm normally anticipating the next, but in terms of produce definitely summer, everything is in abundance and at its peak.
What are the staples in your pantry now?
Good extra virgin olive oil, Maldon sea salt, Spanish smoked paprika, must have Tim Tams.
What is your earliest cooking memory?
I would have been six years old, Mum had been in bed, tired after a long morning at work. I decided to play chef for the day and make fried rice; apparently you have to boil the rice before frying, I learnt that the hard way.
Which ingredients do you grow yourself?
Currently none, but I would love to have a little vegetable patch and eventually even some bees to harvest my own honey.
Which six people would you invite to dinner?
My son Leo definitely, because he's the love of my life, my mother because she's my constant support and inspiration to be better, Anthony Bourdain (RIP) has always been one of my biggest food heroes and a man full of great quotes, Russell Brand, funny, intelligent, insightful, confronting, unapologetic, he's just on another level, Post Malone because why not and George Calombaris, because I would like to run a burger idea past him, The Furious George, it's just like a normal burger, but we take a little off the top.
What is your favourite foodie ritual?
Oh a definite foodie ritual for me would be 3am Sweethearts Pizza after a night of fun at Beer Deluxe, always a capricciosa pizza and potato gems with gravy.
What are you bingeing on TV? If anything
Taco Chronicles on Netflix has to be one, Stranger Things, The Final Table, Peaky Blinders, Animal Kingdom, Highlander, Black Mirror and the list goes on.
What did you have for dinner last night?
Braised beef short rib, cauliflower and leek cream, pickled onions, broccoli and pistachio pesto ... and no, I don't always eat like that, at home most of the time it's two-minute noodles.
What are you drinking at the moment?
Balter XPA, hands down one of my favourites at the moment
Beer Deluxe Albury
491 Kiewa Street
(02) 8322 2070