Simon Bryant

Born: Exeter, England

History: He began his cooking career in several Thai and Indian Restaurants in Melbourne, before moving to Adelaide in 1995. Simon has been with Hilton Adelaide for more than ten years, commencing as a Commis Chef, followed by eighteen months as a Chef de Partie in The Grange with Cheong Liew and rapidly working his way up to Senior Sous Chef of The Brasserie. It is in The Brasserie where Simon has emerged as one of Adelaide’s hottest young chefs and was promoted to Executive Chef overseeing 33 staff, two of the states leading restaurants, a quick service deli, and as South Australia’s largest hotel, the largest catering and room service operations in the state.

Simon’s television career started in 2004 with appearances on the ABC series Beat the Chef . It was here he was discovered and offered the co-host role on the now hit series on ABC1 The Cook and the Chef with local food icon Maggie Beer. Having just celebrated 100 episodes of the Cook and the Chef, another series will be filmed in 2009.

Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
Being a professional chef was not always in Simon’s original plans. After completing a motor mechanics apprenticeship, Simon undertook a Bachelor of Economics at Adelaide University. Doing part time jobs from child care, pushbike courier, barman, pizza delivery guy and dishwasher it was when he transferred to Melbourne University to continue his degree, he worked as a cook in the student cafeteria. This is where his enduring interest in career cooking began,
realising he’d rather wear a chef’s hat than a business suit.

How would you define your style?
Local, seasonal, regional foods cooked simply. Always let the ingredients remain the focus of the dish, most of the time less really is more.

Obsessive compulsive about?
Using fresh ingredients, knowing where your ingredients came from. Knowing your
providores, this can be the key to really understanding how to best cook the produce that they grow. Dish design is the next critical step. It is really important to spend some time working out which cooking method and style best suits the produce and really lets it shine through in a memorable way to the diner. It’s about respect, you need to honour the effort the grower has put into his product in your dishes.

Your greatest culinary inspirations?
Too many to list, anyone that cares passionately about food is going to be a huge influence on your style. Working in this industry I have been lucky enough to meet and collaborate with so many knowledgeable and skilled people, it rubs off.

Most “eyebrow raising” menu item?
More like eye lash raising: we put alpaca on the menu because I believe it is a great fit for our states fragile climate: a water wise, light footed, gentle grazer. Needless to say this was met with some criticism because they really are a beautiful creature but then what animal isn’t?

Signature dish: I don’t believe in the term. A signature is like a snowflake: each one truly unique and individual. On the other hand chefs belong to a long line of great teachers and experimenters: we inadvertently take a little of this history every time we design a dish. To say your dish is as unique as your signature just seems a little contrived to me. Of course there are some great chefs who come up with a truly original idea but they are perhaps one per generation.

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