By Leigh O’Connor.
Do you know why we eat ham at Christmas?
Supposedly, the tradition started in Germany to appease the God Freyr who was the God of Fertility, Harvest and Boars; paganism also offered many other traditions for Christianity, including Christmas trees.
These days, it just wouldn’t be an Aussie Christmas without a centrepiece of honey ham and all the trimmings! We asked JW Marriott Resort & Spa
Executive Chef Paul Smart to dish up his recipe
and this is sure to be a Christmas winner with a honey, maple syrup, cinnamon and star anise glaze.
In charge of the kitchen at Citrique
(12) restaurant at this Gold Coast resort, Paul began his culinary career washing dishes as a 15-year-old at a local Adelaide restaurant – after a few months the Head Chef called in sick and the owner asked him to jump on the pans during dinner service.
"I had been curious about the cooking going on so I jumped at the chance,” he tells AGFG. "Yes, the first night I made some mistakes, but I loved it. This experience urged me to look into becoming a qualified Chef, so when an apprenticeship came up, I went for the job.”
Heading to The Ritz in London after completing his apprenticeship, Paul rounded off his skills as a fine dining Chef and also won an Academy of Culinary Arts competition endorsed by then Prince Charles.
After further stints in Australia and Thailand – where he won Iron Chef Thailand twice in a row – he was appointed Executive Chef of Sofitel Metropole Hanoi, leading the team for three years with an annual Michelin Star event.
Forced to move back to Australia during COVID, he took on the Chef Consulting role to transform Marriott Surfers to JW Marriott Gold Coast, with the highlight being gaining an Australian Good Food Guide Chef Hat for Citrique, along with a Readers’ Choice Award for Seafood.
One of only a handful of Chefs who have cooked for ex-President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un at the same time for a 2019 Summit, Paul can’t stand messy kitchens finding it hard to work and be organised unless everything is in its place and has a place.
Loving the fact that Chefs are in high demand and can travel anywhere, Paul would love to go to another part of Asia and be back Down Under for the Brisbane Olympics in 2032.
Check out what is on at JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa over the festive season by clicking here