Aaron Habgood

Aaron Habgood




I started my apprenticeship at the Landmark Park royal in Potts Point, Sydney. After completing it, I continued to work in various Sydney Hotels for the next 6 years before embarking on a journey to the UK. Over the next 6 months I gained experience at the Berkley Hotel, Knightsbridge as well as Relais & Chateaux in Dorset, before securing a Sous Chef position at Sienna’s in Dorchester. Sienna was awarded its first Michelin Star while I was working there. It was such an amazing experience to work alongside a Chef that cared so much about the produce he bought and where it came from. 

I came back to Australia in 2008, where I started working at the Shangri-la Hotel in Sydney as a Sous Chef and continued to work my way up for the next 4.5 years. It was an amazing hotel! I was lucky enough to work with some great Chefs and cook for some of the world’s elite performers and sportsman, dignitaries and royal family members. In 2013 I moved to Shangri-la Cairns, where I have found my own true style. I’m not sure if it’s my kids or the relaxed tropical resort lifestyle I now have, but I couldn’t be happier about where my food is at the moment. 

Have you always wanted to be a Chef? 

Yes, since I was 14! I enjoyed cooking at school and it was fun. Then after a week’s worth of work experience (with my future mentor), I was hooked and haven’t looked back since. It has taken me around the world and has allowed me to meet so many people. I don’t think I would have done any of that without being a Chef!

How would you define your style? 

Honest cooking, done well. My food is a mixture of classics with modern interpretations. The older I get and the more I continue to learn, the more I appreciate what food is and how good it can be in its simplest forms. Gone are the days where you place a dozen ingredients onto a plate. Our produce is that good in Australia that sometimes you only need a pinch of salt to have an amazing meal. 

Obsessive compulsive about? 

Anything to do with food. It feeds my soul, my family and friends, and it creates memories that last a life time. 

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences: 

Hands down my mentor and first Chef I worked for and have known since I was 16. He ignited something in me with the buzz of the kitchen as it is electrifying and addictive. I was the last of 5 of his Chefs that he trained from an apprentice and the only one to make Michelin kitchens and 5 star hotels.

What do you love about this business? 

Haha! This isn’t a business. The kitchen is a lifestyle choice; one that is controlling, demanding and one that I can’t live without. Everything I have today, whether it is my family, skills, life experiences, or memories have come from this crazy industry. I think that’s what young kids today don’t understand about our industry. It’s taken me 19 years to get to where I am today and hopefully another 19 years to get to where I want to be. 

An ingredient you can’t live without? 

Salt. It enhances the flavour of every dish, be it savoury or sweet. 

Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item? 

The day I threw 2 whole spring lamb carcasses onto my team’s bench and said break it down for specials. The look I was given was awesome and shocking at the same time. Our Chefs today are no longer taught the art of breaking down these beasts. Most of today’s hotels buy everything in cartons or portions. Being able to teach my teams the skills my mentor taught me is truly satisfying. 

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