With hospitality ventures spanning three continents, Johnny Di Franceso’s lifelong passion for Neapolitan cuisine has seen the talented chef and restauranteur dedicate himself to being the best in the world.

Before opening his first 400 Gradi restaurant in Brunswick in 2008, Di Francesco travelled to Naples to study his craft with the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) – experts widely considered this the world authority on traditional Neapolitan pizza making.

When he returned, his devotion to his learnings from the AVPN – cooking pizzas in wood-fired ovens on a 48-hour risen base, and using only DOC-approved toppings – swiftly earned him local acclaim and the nickname ‘Mr Pizza Man’.

In 2014, he was invited to compete at Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza – the ‘World Pizza Championships’ in Parma, Italy – where he battled it out against 600 chefs from 35 countries to win the number one spot.

Di Francesco was the first Australian to have earned this honour, and 400 Gradi subsequently went on to win ‘Best Pizzeria in Oceania’ at the world’s 50 Top Pizza awards in Naples two years in a row, and ‘Best Pizzeria’ outside of Italy in 2020.

Present day, Di Francesco’s Gradi Group includes 11 restaurants in Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East and USA; gelato store Zero Gradi; and Italian grocer Gradi Mercato.

He has also published two cookbooks, and holds regular masterclasses and cooking demonstrations, while mentoring up-and- coming hospitality talent.