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Parade College’s state-of-the-art hospitality kitchens weren’t around when David Petrilli completed his final year studies almost 20 years ago. But Parade truly set the local boy on his career path at that pivotal moment in 1997.

“There weren’t any cooking classes at Parade back then, but the College helped with work experience at the Park Royal in Little Collins Street,” David said.

“I used to work in hospitality throughout my schooldays until I finished Year 12 when I entered the hospitality industry full-time - and after a few stints in kitchens and bars, coupled with work in the wine industry for five years, here I am today.”

The “here” of which David speaks is the famous Farm Viganò - just a few kilometres north of Parade and off Plenty Road at South Morang - which David and his partners now own and manage.

Originally purchased by Mario and Maria Teresa Viganò more than 80 years ago, and sold soon after Mario’s death, Farm Viganò with its house, farm buildings, and designed landscape, provides the last tangible physical association with Mario Viganò, the patriarch of Melbourne’s, and probably Australia’s, most prominent restaurant family.

“When we saw this place we fell in love with it, but the process of taking over wasn’t easy – it was State Government-owned and it took a good three years to gain the lease with 12 months building on top of that,” David said.

“But this was a beautiful venue and really suited the idea - and it’s been great to keep the legacy of the Viganò family alive given what they did for hospitality in Melbourne and for the Italians in the community.”

As with Mario, David’s passion for food was very much part of his Italian DNA. As he fondly recalled, “Growing up at home with Italian parents, I was always involved in the process of making salami and tomato sauce”.

“For me it’s not just the actual cooking either, but what cooking actually represents – the culture of people coming together,” David said. “And I love seeing people coming together here and celebrating over a nice meal and a good wine.”

That the old farm also happens to be in the neighbourhood for this Old Paradian is an added bonus for David, for as the Old Paradian so proudly observes – “Farm Viganò has helped me reconnect with past students and teachers of the College”.

Farm Viganò is situated at 10 Bushmans Way, South Morang. The restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday and Wednesday from 11am and Thursday to Sunday 11am until late, and take it from this correspondent that Old Paradians are truly welcome.

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