Wellington, New Zealand
I began my career at the Plaza International Hotel in Wellington. I quickly realised the restaurant scene in Australia was much further ahead than NZ, so after just over 1 year of working at the hotel, I relocated to Sydney and began looking for work.
After a couple of months, I managed to get a position at Level Forty-One, under Dietmar Sawyere. This is where I really began to form my love of fine dining and refined cooking with top-quality produce.
We worked very long hours but I learned a lot about organisation and my knife skills and pan work came a long way.
From there, the other major formative jobs in Sydney were at Otto in Woolloomooloo and at Coast in Darling Harbour. There I learned two different approaches to Italian cooking - one being quite humble and simple, the other being more refined and slightly more Australian/Italian.
I spent around two years in London working at the Cuckoo Club, a high-end nightclub restaurant. I was lucky to work with a few of London’s up-and-coming restaurateurs and this is where I became much more aware of molecular gastronomy techniques, which really helped me form my own food style.
Once returning to Sydney I took my first Head Chef role, opening Public Dining Room in Balmoral, we had really good success with the menu concept and it was a nice start to leading a team, being in such a great location.
I then led kitchen teams at a few different restaurants around Sydney, from wood-grill based to city brasserie-style.
Moving my family to Tasmania was definitely a leap into the unknown for my wife and I, but from a food perspective, it’s been a very creative and beneficial 6 years.
Highlights have been working so closely with farmers, being a part of the planning process with them and also having the space to grow my own produce at home.
My cuisine style has now become totally produce-driven, seasonal and European-influenced with a really grounded, Italian approach to using cool climate produce. It doesn’t hurt that the wine we make is absolutely delicious, so working with it is a real treat.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
Pretty much, when I left school at 16 I was straight into a cookery course and never looked back.
How would you define your style?
Modern Tasmanian cuisine, with influences from Europe.
What is your feature flavour these days?
I’m loving meru miso and shio koji at present; it’s been great to learn how to incorporate these into my dishes and it’s made just down the road.
Most things - organisation, cleanliness, seasoning.
Your greatest culinary influence:
Vue de Monde 2008 - a late-night degustation dinner I’ll never forget - theatre but also amazing cooking.
What do you love about this business?
Making customers happy, working with the best produce I can get my hands on.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Sea salt, tomatoes, there are many more.
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
Carpaccio of Grass-fed Beef, Verjuice pickled oyster mushrooms, truffle mayonnaise, sheep’s cheese, soft herbs.
Why should diners visit your restaurant and what can they expect?
If you're visiting Tasmania, you simply must visit Josef Chromy Wines. From walking the gardens to our cellar door team and through to dining in the restaurant, we really are all very passionate about this region, our grounds and our product.
You can expect great hospitality and a dining experience reflective of the time of year, and the produce around us.
What do you think COVID has taught restaurants and Chefs about their diners and the industry in general?
I think it has taught us that the industry is fragile and without the people working in it, there is no industry. We need to continue to make this an industry that provides a great future and career for those who choose to join it.
It has also taught us we’re creative and resilient, even in the face of such a difficult situation.
Tell us something no one knows about you?
I’m ambidextrous. Not sure I can think of anything else.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Hopefully working a little less, and golfing a little more. Oh and watching my 3 boys grow up.