At 15, I started my apprenticeship at my local pub; from there, I worked in various fine dining restaurants, gastro pubs and five-star international hotel chains.
I have been fortunate in my career to work abroad and also spent a couple of years in the Whitsundays which to this day was the most challenging environment I have worked in and was the experience that shaped me the most as a hef.
Working at Swissotel in Sydney under such great mentors gave me the opportunity to become an Executive Chef.
I am currently at ABODE Darling Harbour as Executive Chef, where I focus on developing my team, growing their skills, while becoming a better leader and learning how to be a better cook.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
I left school at a young age and had no idea what I wanted to do.
My Grandmother used to tell me these stories about the crazy Chefs she worked with in these glamorous hotels when she was in her 20s and with her subtle encouragement I decided to give cooking a go.
However, it was not until a few years later, around the age of 18 or 19, that cooking transformed from just a job into something that provided me with stability, a sense of purpose and a clear career path.
How would you define your style?
My style has changed over the years due to the diverse melting pot of cuisines and cultures found in Sydney. As I grow older, I find myself gravitating to towards a style that prioritises taste over technique.
What is your feature flavour these days?
Fresh coastal plants and flowers can be found throughout our menus and I am enjoying the versatility of cheese at the moment as well.
Consistency, steps/procedures and finding balance with my food and team.
Your greatest culinary influence:
I draw inspiration from a myriad of sources, including farmers' markets, books, fellow Chefs, my friends and family and the talented individuals I work with. It’s a common occurrence for me to come across a family recipe or a cultural element shared by someone I know and then I weave an interpretation of that into a dish.
René Redzepi’s perspective on leadership and hospitality resonates with me and motivates me to reflect on how I can also make potential impacts in these areas.
What do you love about this business?
There is so much opportunity to be great and create a career from doing something you find joy in. Hospo workers are some of the greatest humans you will come across and if you love to travel, you can go anywhere.
Furthermore, the love of food is a universal bond that connects people and individuals are genuinely enthusiastic to engage with you.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Good olive oil, garlic and salt, on their own or all together.
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
Running kitchens in hotels you cater to a diverse range of guests so we tend to keep things safe and strive to strike a balance of keeping things engaging yet accessible.
I tend to be easily influenced by new ideas, so I never keep a dish on the menu long enough for it to become a something I am known for, however my family loves my slow-roasted lamb shoulder.
Tell us something no one knows about you?
During high school, I was a little naughty and was banned from food tech, which is a little funny now considering my life’s passion is food and hospitality.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I hope I am still in a similar role and in a position where I can contribute more time back to the industry by mentoring the younger generation.