Anthony Hart and Michael Furness

Anthony Hart and Michael Furness

Name: Anthony Hart. 

Born:

Johannesburg, South Africa. 

History: 

I’m a creative soul by nature, and I’ve always anticipated that wherever I end up, it would be in a profession where I’d be able to use my hands. Initially as I came closer to graduating from high school, I was interested in the arts. 

Unfortunately at the tender age of 17 I fell ill with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer), and all my plans for tertiary study had to come to a halt. I was lucky enough to recover from the illness, and decided that having been given a second chance at life, that I was going to strive to pursue what I perceived as the best. I was steered away from the hospitality industry as my parents were against me working in a physically and mentally demanding environment after my illness. I looked at doing advertising, fashion design and photography, however the art of food, pastry in particular, kept calling. I had always been told that pastry was a dying art, but I now believe it’s the driving force of what cuisine is today. 

I’m a big believer in starting at the bottom and working your way up, which is what I did. After completing my studies at the Swiss Hotel school in Johannesburg, I went on to working my first job with Lebanese ex-soldiers at a large bakery that distributed nationally. I always found it so peculiar that these pastry Chefs who had been through the wars could create such intricate art. What attracted me most was their sheer discipline to complete each task with such perfection, and that they were so precise and meticulous in the way that they worked. 

Moving on, I worked as the head pastry Chef for one of the top 5 boutique hotels in South Africa for two years, before the urge kicked in to travel. I needed more. A French Chef and friend of mine had worked in Melbourne for some time at Bistro Vue and suggested I send my resume to Shannon Bennett. I was privileged to get a job as a pastry Chef at Vue de monde and moved to Melbourne in 2008. Vue de monde was exactly what I needed at the time. Not only did it give me the opportunity to work with some of the best products in Australia, but I also had the privilege of meeting some of the best Chefs in the country and overseas. It also allowed me to hone my skills in pastry and taught me the fundamentals of management, persistence and creative innovation. After 4 years at Vue de monde, having worked my way up to executive pastry Chef for the Vue group, the travel bug kicked in again and I was ready to see what the USA had to offer. I did a month stage at Alinea and L20 in Chicago (both 3-Michelin star restaurants). 

I returned to Melbourne and went back to working for Shannon at Vue de monde. Having learnt a great deal in the kitchen and having had the privilege to be part of the restaurant’s prestige, I wasn’t ready to leave just yet. Eventually when I did, I went to work as group executive pastry Chef with George Calombaris at The Press Club before deciding to venture off on my own to start Don’t Lose Your Temper. I ran the business as a wholesale pastry supplier for four years before Michael joined the business. We had worked together at Vue de monde so we were both familiar with each other’s work. As the products we were producing were being received very well, we decided to open a shop front to extend the brand and add to the identity of the business. It’s been a fantastic move as we can contribute to the amazing food culture in Melbourne and have full creative ownership over our products. 

How would you define your style? 

It’s difficult to pinpoint what my style would be. There are many influences that determine how I approach the concept of a dessert or a product. My style has changed over the years as I have developed, from over-complicated desserts as a young Chef to simpler, flavour and theme-driven desserts. 

What is your feature flavour these days? 

Roasted nuts, especially hazelnuts. The flavour travels so well throughout desserts. I enjoy experimenting with different flavour combinations and try working with them in a number of ways before moving onto the next. I’ll get a flavour in my head and try incorporating it into different desserts and in different ways, and roasted hazelnuts seems to tick all the boxes every time. 

I’ll look at trends in terms of technique and use some of the elements in my own creations, but I don’t necessarily follow them. Melbourne is very volatile when it comes to trends, which is not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, I’d rather strive to set the trend rather than follow it. 

Obsessive compulsive about? 

Cleanliness, symmetry, order, hierarchy and discipline. I’ve often been teased that my floors can be eaten off. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult, but I’ll take it either way. Bottom line – at least you know it’s clean. 

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences: 

It’s difficult to say when there are so many people and experiences that influence my inspirations every day. I learnt from a young age that experiences with people influence you far more than an idea of an individual. 

What do you love about this business? 

The people, every kitchen I have worked in has taught me something, whether it be a Chef, waiter or even a cleaner or kitchen hand. We are never above learning. 

An ingredient you can’t live without? 

Chocolate, it has tremendous versatility and can be used in so many ways (mousse, powder, liquid etc.). It also offers a different eating experience, depending on how it’s incorporated into a dish. I also sometimes feel that chocolate has a mind of its own. Although I have tempered chocolate many times over, it can still be so unpredictable at times. It’s a love-hate relationship. 

Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item? 

Beetroot in desserts. I’m just not a fan. Don’t get me wrong, I like beetroot, but just not in desserts. 

Signature dish: 

I’m not sure I have one. I have created a few dessert dishes for celebrity Chefs, which I have been fortunate enough to see make large publications, prestigious lists and event television. One dish that stood out for me in particular was the Pavlova that I created for Gazi restaurant; a meringue dome which housed a pavlova dessert underneath and the dish was to be cracked open to reveal the dish. Also the lemon, lime and bitters dessert I created for George Calombaris that was used in season 6 MasterChef for one of the Chef challenges.

Name: Michael Furness. 

Born: 

Melbourne, VIC (raised in the small country town of Trentham near Daylesford). 

History: 

My father was a Chef and ignited my passion for food at a very young age. I would cook with him in a bed and breakfast in Trentham on my weekend visits. My mother on the other hand was not quite as capable as my father to say the least. I think this was an even stronger driving force to learn how to work with food purely from a survival point. I thoroughly enjoyed cooking classes during my high school years and decided to pursue cooking as a career after finishing my VCE studies. I picked up a job as a kitchen hand straight away as well as enrolling in a culinary school. I quickly convinced the other Chefs I was working with to give me more responsibilities and quickly became responsible for a section in the kitchen. I drew a lot of inspiration from my mentors at school, one of which specialised in pastry so I started to stay behind after class and he would teach advanced pastry skills (sugar and chocolate work) far beyond my skill set at the time. It was from then that I decided to pursue patisserie, as the refined precision of pastry greatly appealed to my personality. 

During my studies I would always hear about this amazing restaurant in Melbourne called ‘Vue de monde.’ I knew that I had to work there if I was ever going to get anywhere. I was fortunate enough that I had a friend working at the pastry production kitchen at the time so I managed to get in for a trial and secure a position. After a few months in the pastry production, I wanted to move up to the flag ship restaurant on the 55th floor of the Rialto. The first few weeks were crazy, I had never been exposed to this kind of intensity in a kitchen. Although it was hard, for some reason you just ended up loving it. I think it’s the camaraderie you develop with your peers, all working together to give the guests that perfect dining experience. It was at Vue de monde that I honed my skills in not only pastry but in all sections of the kitchen; meat, fish, sauce and bakery. 

After 4 and half years I decided that I had learnt all that I could from the company and it was time for a breather. I travelled through Europe and came back to Australia to help one of my former colleagues, Clinton McIver open up his restaurant ‘Amaru’ as his sous/pastry Chef. It was a fantastic experience to see a restaurant opening from the beginning as there is just so many things unrelated to cooking to learn. It was here that I could further develop my style and techniques in collaboration with Clinton. 

From this point I got in touch with Anthony Hart the former Vue de monde head pastry Chef before myself as I was very interested in his personal project; a small high-end pastry and confectionery wholesaler. I knew this guy had some sweet skills and I wanted to learn what I could from him so I quickly enlisted myself part time with Anthony on the side during my time at Amaru. Fast forward a year or two and now we have our own outlet where we can make our sweets available directly to the public. 

How would you define your style? 

I would say that I have quite an eclectic style as I try to combine the skills I have learnt from cookery, patisserie and bakery into one. When I think about each style they all seem to have their own qualities and ways to approach them, but I think they are all full of transferable skills/concepts that can me melded together to great effect. I try to always keep in mind taste, texture, smell, visual appearance, seasonality and locality when creating dishes. I believe these are the basics that all Chefs should be doing. 

What is your feature flavour these days? 

One of my favourite flavour combinations is hazelnut and lime. I stumbled onto it whilst having a cocktail and I was blown away. Since then I have recreated it in many different dishes and I just love it every time. 

Obsessive compulsive about?

Everything has a place, it drives me crazy when things are not where they should be. Unfortunately, this is hard to achieve in kitchens filled with many Chefs, much to my dismay. 

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences: 

I never really idolised any famous Chefs. I much prefer to draw my inspiration from the people I surround myself with. I have lots of friends in the industry; Chefs, pastry Chefs, bakers etc. I always keep in touch with them and check out what they’re passionate about and their new ideas and learn from them, as well as share with them what I’ve learnt. I think this is the best way to grow and learn. 

What do you love about this business? 

I love that I’m now my own boss and only have complete creative control. 

An ingredient you can’t live without? 

I would definitely be struggling without eggs; their functionality is just far beyond any other ingredient as far as I’m concerned. 

Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item? 

For some reason a lot of people would question our sweet potato, spice and white choc mousse. I think a lot of people don’t see a place for vegetables in the pastry section despite classics like pumpkin pie, unfortunately. 

Signature dish: 

While I was at William Angliss, I created a dish that was received very well. It was called hazelnut, passionfruit and lime. The dish was flexible passionfruit curd, hazelnut ice cream, hazelnut and lime macaron and hazelnut and brown butter malto.



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