He’s gone from strength to strength and now IDES’ Melbourne’s Zack “the postman” Furst has been shortlisted for the San Pellegrino Young Chef of the year 2017 competition.
To compete on the world stage for Australia, Zack will need to cook a dish that is better than 9 other contenders. We speak with Zack about his inspiration, style and what it feels like to possibly be young chef of the year.
AGFG: What’s the reason you chose to become a chef, what or who inspired you?
Zack: I grew up in a hospitality family, my parents own a catering company and I worked in that from the word go with my four siblings, so being in restaurants and kitchens has naturally been comfortable for me. I chose to be a chef at a young age and moved out to Melbourne to pursue that. For me, there is no defining moment where I said “I am going to be a chef,” it was more a general progression towards something I always knew was going to happen.
That aside, I would say one of the first chefs that I was inspired by would be my older brother Jacob Furst, he is one of the most technically skilled chefs I have worked with and his skill in the general process of cooking has always amazed me.
AGFG: How would you define your current style, are there any trends or new directions that you will be focussing on?
Zack: The way I like to cook at the moment is highly flavour based as well as practical. Practicality is very important to me, food has to make sense and be appropriate. However boring that may sound, skill in cooking really shines through when you can refine something that is so ridiculously practical in ways of taste, concept and technique.
At the end of the day, food has to be delicious, so with general emphasis of Knowledge and Technique, the flavour has to be there, otherwise you are wasting your time.
AGFG: Working at IDES restaurant, somewhere that has such a farm to plate mentality, what’s your favourite ingredient to use, and how would you prepare and serve it?
Zack: At the moment, I am really enjoying globe artichokes. They are often overlooked due to them being a labour intensive ingredient. We at IDES lightly steam the hearts and stalks with some butter, vinegar, garlic and spec. We then cool them, dice them up nicely and add some dill stalks and fennel seeds. We go onto dress them heavily with chardonnay vinegar and olive oil. This is then served at the table to top a fish course.
AGFG: You’re shortlisted in a number of prestigious Young Chef Competitions, how’s the pressure and what’s the preparation like?
Zack: It can be very stressful adding these prestigious competitions into your life and also into your general day to day working life. The pressure you put on yourself can be quite intense, but I would say I have an amazing advantage with Pete and our team at IDES, their support and continuous effort to inspire me and to give my very best is truly incredible.
Preparation wise, you really only get as much out of it as you are willing to put in. I enjoy the general process of cooking, just as much as the end result, so for me preparation is crucial, whether it be prep lists, meetings with plate makers or just packing your bag so that everything comes out in order. You need to give yourself the best possible opportunity, period.
AGFG: Given you have the chance to represent Australia on the world stage, tell us about how you’re preparing, any techniques and chef hints? What are you hoping to gain from the competitions?
Zack: The biggest preparation for me with this opportunity is honing in on the best representation of myself, who I am, how I cook and the emphasis behind that.
To win this competition, cooking a style of food that is a misrepresentation of myself and what I am about, would be much more disappointing than losing and being true to myself.
I am hoping to generally challenge myself in all aspects of cooking and representation, and ideally tap into more of my own style. At the end of the day, they are competitions and I will give my very best, for myself, IDES and the work we are doing there is my sole focus.
AGFG: If you could be any dish what you be and why?
Zack: This is a remarkably tough question, but I would probably say Polish-style chicken broth with angel hair noodles and dill. The go to favourite of mine; simply, good and not complicated – yet it always delivers, haha!
So why the “postman” you ask? Because Zack always delivers – so the IDES team reports.