Melissa Pollard

Melissa Pollard

Born:

Albury, NSW.

History: 

1st Year Apprentice Hovell Tree Inn.

2nd, 3rd and 4thYear Absolutely Delicious Café Bathurst - Bishop Court Boutique Hotel, Bathurst

Head Chef, Q Manhattans Albury

Chef, Siesta Resort Albury

Head Chef, Hotel on Olive for the last 2 Years 

Have you always wanted to be a Chef? 

I knew when I was in high school that I wanted to be a Chef. I would come home from school and cook most nights for my family and I really loved it. 

How would you define your style? 

Bright and tasty. I love bright colours, so food really needs to pop and look great, we really do eat with our eyes. I like to do different versions of old favourites, solid rich flavours with fresh and bright presentation, dishes people know and can really look forward to. 

What is your feature flavour these days? 

Variety is the spice of life – there’s no way I can narrow it down to one flavour that I’m really enjoying right now, I’m like a kid in a candy store, way too many favourites! We are working with some amazing local suppliers at the moment – the fresh pop and fizz from Posh Plonks Vintage Cuvee Reserve has me inspired. We’ve also experimented with some visually exciting Black Brioche buns and a Black Kuro prawn with a bamboo charcoal infused panko crumb. But really, I love the adventure and excitement of variety. Narrowing down my new Summer menu is going to be tough. 

Obsessive compulsive about? 

My Team and My Hotel – being a part of and leading a team of people who love what they do! It’s not my style to be obsessive compulsive about anything – when quality is as important to people as it is to us, I suppose that could be considered obsessive. I love a challenge and believe there’s nothing I can’t handle – that’s the vibe I like my team to have as well. Sometimes if perfectionism and obsessiveness gets loose in a fast paced reactive environment like a kitchen, it can really unsettle people and make them uneasy. That’s not the way we work here. We’ve got each other, flaws and all, some of the best creations happen by accident! You don’t want to kill creativity and passion with being obsessive. 

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences: 

I really enjoy a lot of the modern Chefs; Jamie Oliver has a great social conscience and a work ethic I can really appreciate. The way he talks and relates through food, strikes a chord with me. It’s great to see such passion and yet likability that’s relatable. I like his fresh, bright flavours and have utilised a few of his recipes from time to time. Inspiration can come from anywhere though. 

Working with Charlene Pritchard is pretty inspiring – people would not believe the amount of love that goes into our creative process and her dedication and passion for food blows me away. 

What do you love about this business? 

The challenge. Every day is different, and Food, of course! So many flavours. It’s just such a rewarding experience on a regular basis. When you have a full rail of orders and a little thought floats through your head ‘I’m not going to be able to do this’ and you look around and others are relying on you, the pressure is real – when you dig in and brush that off, to get it done, rally your guys and concentrate on doing your best working together – that’s amazing. 

At the end of the night when you’re tired and the adrenalin backs off and you get some feedback in from guests and staff that someone loved this, or someone wants a recipe for that – that people enjoyed their dining experience and loved the food – that is gold, there is no better feeling.        

An ingredient you can’t live without? 

Salt and Pepper – there’s not much you can’t make great with some seasoning. 

Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item? 

Currently we have a vine leaf wrapped poached lamb back-strap that we serve with a cauliflower and olive salad, the dish has a lot of very bold flavours and has been a bit controversial – it turns out a lot of people have pretty strong feelings about vine leaves. 

Signature dish:

The 579 Signature Steak. 

We do this in two sizes so that it’s just right for people. 220gm and 320gm. It’s nestled with baby vegetables and a semi sweet Shiraz reduction

We’ve also had a blowout with a seasonal addition. Southern fried chicken.  It has been so well received, we will have to keep it as a permanent new addition.

Buttermilk marinated and crispy deep fried when it comes with creamy puree potato, zesty coleslaw and a slice of honey butter – it’s the epitome of delicious comfort food.