Antonio Pruner is still a new name in Adelaide hospitality, but you might know his handiwork. The Brazilian-born chef has been at Anchovy Bandit since 2020, working alongside head chef Michael Henderson and executive chef Shane Wilson to turn out the Prospect pizzeria’s woodfired pies, handmade pastas and freewheeling riffs on traditional Italian dishes.
Come September he’s stepping up to front the kitchen at Bandit Pizza and Wine, the Big Easy Group’s new neighbourhood pizzeria and wine bar on Unley Road. The venue’s open kitchen will include a huge pizza oven (twice the size of that at Anchovy Bandit), a hearth for charring veggies and a hibachi grill for skewered meats (Abruzzese-style) called arrosticini. Ahead of the opening, Pruner fills Broadsheet in on what’s to come.
What’s your new job title?
I am the head chef of Bandit Pizza and Wine!
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Tell me a little about your previous experience.
Food has always been a very important part of my life. My family celebrates all special occasions with food, so it has always been my happy place.
I worked with marketing and advertising for nine solid years, and while doing that I studied culinary arts in Brazil, but only after deciding to move to Australia I decided to give my career as a chef a chance.
When I moved to Melbourne in 2017, it took me some time to adapt and understand the local cuisine, ingredients and culture. My three years in Melbourne were extremely important for my development as a chef, as I worked at French bistros and busy cafes in the city, which allowed me to acquire knowledge in this industry and experience what I wanted and what I did not want as a chef. After a short trip to Adelaide in 2019, the local food scene left me really impressed and that was probably the main reason that led me to move here about a year later.
After some time involved with the local hospo scene, I started working at Anchovy Bandit and became part of one of the most amazing teams I have ever worked with. Then last year I got the sous chef position there and it all progressed to this awesome opportunity of becoming head chef of Bandit Pizza and Wine.
Why did you decide to move across to Bandit Pizza and Wine?
This is another great project from Big Easy Group and [it] has interested me since the first time I heard about it. Becoming the head chef of the Bandit and working with great creative minds such as chef Shane Wilson to design the restaurant menu is a great learning opportunity for me, and the idea of having such a venue as this in a new part of the city for us, with pizzas, snacks, and great wine, is a no-brainer, isn't it?
Do you have any fun plans or ideas for your new role?
The plan is pretty straightforward: I want to create a place where people can have fun, listen to good beats and eat delicious food. For this to happen, the idea is to build a solid team that can feel inspired by the environment they are working in, and have a good time. I want to be able to create new stuff with the team daily, so the experience is exciting every time our guests come dine at the Bandit.
Are you bringing any dishes or ideas from Anchovy Bandit?
Probably we are not going to bring any of the dishes across from Anchovy, but the way we treat and think about food will be the same. Just like we do at Anchovy, we'll be cooking in an open kitchen so the diners can see all the action, keeping everything very seasonal and as local as possible, and we'll be giving our usual new take on well-known Italian dishes, by incorporating non-traditional ingredients and uncommon flavours you wouldn't normally find in those dishes.
What are some cool new dishes/ideas in the works?
The menu is still being developed, but one thing is certain: at the Bandit, fire will be front and centre in our menu and is present in some way in all of our dishes; the pizzas will be cooked in a huge woodfire oven, and the arrosticini skewers, small plates, and veggies will come straight from the hearth grill. Another cool thing I can anticipate is that we are developing some cool dipping sauces to serve with the pizzas so that people can love our 72-hour-proof pizza crust even more.