7 January 2022

Five minutes with Jon Kosteski from restaurants Trecento and Pronto

| Lottie Twyford
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Jon Kosteski at Trecento

Jon Kosteski doing what he does best: crafting authentic Italian food. Photo: Trecento.

Who is Jon Kosteski? I’m one of the co-owners of Trecento Manuka and Pronto Queanbeyan.

Best recent dining experience: I recently visited Onzieme in Kingston, and, oh man, I was blown away! That team really knows what they’re doing with produce, flavours and balance. The service is also on point and the drinks list is well thought-out, but fun and to the point.

Most embarrassing pantry item: Maggi chicken two-minute noodles. I can usually get them done in one-and-a-half minutes and they have become a part of my hangover relief regime.

Must-buy ingredient: Good quality locally sourced meat. I order from Boxgum Grazing weekly for home and the flavour, quality and freshness of their products is mind blowing.

Exterior of Onzieme restaurant in Kingston

Onzieme in Kingston is the latest venture from acclaimed chef Louis Couttoupes. Photo: Instagram.

Next big thing: The slow food movement. People are really starting to think about where their ingredients come from and sourcing local and in-season produce to create dishes.

Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: I don’t get out for breakfast often, but when I do the favourites are Maple + Clove [in Barton] or Fox & Bow in Farrer.

At home, village-style eggs are always a winner for me. It’s scrambled eggs with ajvar (red pepper and eggplant relish), some kolbas (smoked sausage), banana chillis and feta served on a nice sourdough. It instantly transports me to breakfast at my grandmother’s place when she was still around.

My Canberra food secret: Not sure it is much of a secret, but Abell’s Kopi Tiam in Manuka has always been a favourite of mine. I have many fond memories of catching dinner there with the team after a huge service.

Pizza at Trecento

Trecento has been called Canberra’s most authentic Italian pizza. Photo: Trecento.

Biggest culinary influence: I’ve got such a culturally-diverse background – Macedonian, Tongan and Irish – so food has always been a huge component of my life. My parents ran a cafe/eatery when we were growing up and it was like a second home.

My interest in food came mostly from my mum, grandmother and other family members – I love the way food can bring people together and I also love learning about a dish’s history, hence my obsession with Pizza Napoletana.

Favourite cookbook: Lately it’s been Pasta Man by Mateo Zielonka, or anything by Yotam Ottolenghi. However, an all-time favourite as a point of reference, or a step-by-step manual, is Institut Paul Bocuse Gastronomique.

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Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: I admire the industry as a whole. Canberra has taken massive strides in the past 20 years, and the way the food and wine scene has evolved is inspiring.

In terms of good operators who strive for both quality and business efficiency, I would have to say the Harrington brothers behind Akiba, Sage, The Pearl and Wilma. They have always been supportive when I’ve been in need of advice or mentoring.

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What’s on the menu this week: Sadly, the only thing on the menu this week at Manuka is cleaning and repairs as it did not fare well in the rain. We are still serving across the border [in Queanbeyan] at Pronto. I recommend the gnocchi della terra.

Where I’m going next: I am keen to visit Sydney as I have a few places on my to-eat list such as Mimi’s, Saint Peter and Firedoor.

Locally, I hope to visit Bar Beirut sometime soon. I love the look of the new food offering Soumi and his team have put together.

I’d also love to try out the breakfast options at Cup & Coaster [in Fyshwick].

Soumi behind the bar at Bar Beirut

Soumi from Bar Beirut in his happy place. Photo: File.

Death row meal: A big piece of delice de bourgogne, some expertly sliced culatello, fresh warm sourdough with some quality olive oil and balsamic, and a jeroboam of fine vintage champagne.

COVID-19 response: We pivoted to implement a takeaway and delivery system in both restaurants which let us keep the whole team employed. We learnt to adapt and explore revenue streams we hadn’t done previously. In fact, our grazing boxes and cold seafood platters were such a huge hit we still sell them today.

My really simple recipe tip: Keep things simple so use fewer, but better quality, ingredients. Have a glass of wine, play your favourite soundtrack and cook slowly with passion.

Trecento is located at Flinders Way, Manuka. * It’s open for lunch from Thursday to Sunday from 12 pm to 2:30 pm. It’s open on the same days for dinner from 5 pm to 9 pm, apart from Saturday when it stays open until 10 pm.

* Due to recent storm damage Trecento was closed for repairs. Trencento is due to reopen on Tuesday 11 January from 5:30 pm.

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