A chef’s guide to the Goldfields

Travelling Well | Megan Whitfield | Posted on 22 July 2019

Ballarat local shares his favourite places to go for coffee, culture, art and architecture.

Donato Pentassuglia found his way to the Goldfields region six years ago via the small town of Crispiano in southern Italy. He found a job working alongside an Italian-speaking chef and settled into life in central Victoria. These days he lives in Ballarat with his wife, and is the sous chef at RACV Goldfields Resort, working with the restaurant’s senior chef de partie, Mark Boyd. Inspired by the energy of the thriving Goldfields region, Donato knows he’s found a home away from home. 

We asked Donato where he goes in Victoria’s Goldfields…

From left: Fresh-baked pastries from Creswick's Le Peche Gourmand, Lake Wendouree, Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, Art Gallery of Ballarat, misty mornings at The Lake House in Daylesford, Sault Restaurant.

Where I go

For a cup of coffee… In Creswick, there’s this French cafe called Le Peche Gourmand that does very good coffee and croissants, all made in shop. It’s my spot for my European breakfasts. 

For a special gift… There’s a shop in Creswick that’s famous in town, the Creswick Woollen Mills. It’s a bit of a tourist attraction [because of the history] but they have really nice woollen clothes, scarves, gloves. I know my wife would be very happy to receive some warm clothes from there.

For a culture hit… Ballarat has a few good places, like the Art Gallery of Ballarat. There are works from some big names like Carboni, and you can really see the Italian history. The Town Hall is also very classic, a beautiful 150-year-old building. And I love to be transported back in time at Sovereign Hill and of course buy some raspberry drops.

Man in chef uniform cooking a Mediterranean feast in outdoor kitchen

Donato preparing a Mediterranean-inspired feast.

Artfully presented fine dining meal with glass of red wine

Art on a plate at Alla Wolf-Taser's Lake House Restaurant.

Woman relaxing in spa bath

Soak up the serenity at Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa.

To treat myself…
I like going to Daylesford for a bit of a getaway, to Sault restaurant. It’s beautiful. I try to go maybe every six months, when I don’t have to work.

To get back to nature… I really like Daylesford. I like to go out to the Boathouse and look out at the lake. It’s a beautiful landscape. Sometimes we go with friends, but I usually go with my wife and make the most of that quality time we can spend together. If I’m feeling extravagant, I might stay for the weekend at Daylesford’s Lake House. They have fantastic accommodation and a chef-hatted restaurant.

To unwind… I go to a spa. My favourite is Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, in Hepburn, just beyond Daylesford. I like a warm bath, or a massage and a jacuzzi. 

If I have a totally free day… Ideally I’d head home to Italy, but if I only have a day, I like to walk around Lake Wendouree in Ballarat.

Explore this eat-worthy region from RACV Goldfields Resort