Grand Hyatt Melbourne’s Executive Chef, has had an impressive career
and continues to delight guests at Collins Kitchen with his simple, authentic
cuisine using only the best local produce.
Jason joined Grand Hyatt Melbourne following
the hotel’s $45 million redevelopment, moving across from his home state of South Australia to open
the restaurant Collins Kitchen in October 2008. The restaurant set a new
benchmark for hotel dining, providing a contemporary concept unlike any other
The open kitchen at the restaurant serves multiple food concepts, including
Sushi, Deli, Grill, Wok and Patisserie.
the Barossa Valley, Jason began his
culinary career with Hyatt Regency Adelaide as an apprentice close to 16 years
ago. He has also spent time working at Park Hyatt Melbourne, Park Hyatt Sydney
and the Adelaide Festival Centre.
Jason is dedicated to using only the best local
produce – a passion that stems from his Italian heritage and upbringing in one
best known food regions. This devotion ensures that each menu he designs offers
outstanding quality. Jason comments, "growing up in the Barossa Valley, I have
a special appreciation for locally grown produce.”
Jason is also dedicated to offering young Chefs
experiences outside the kitchen. "It’s important for them to see how different
foods grow, are picked, and where they come from. So many things are
pre-packaged these days, so we take regular trips out to our suppliers to give
our apprentices an appreciation of the process involved in creating quality
Destinations the Chefs have visited include Grand
Hyatt Melbourne’s meat supplier, Top Cut, Footscray Fish Market, Clams Seafood
and Yellingbo Olive Grove in the Yarra Valley. Jason’s philosophy and indeed
Hyatt’s, Food. Thoughtfully Sourced.
Carefully Served. Thus, only the best local suppliers are used to create
the simple, authentic dishes at Collins Kitchen, where Jason lets the produce
do the talking.
Jason’s personable nature lends itself perfectly to
the dynamic and innovative set up of Collins Kitchen, where guests can walk
through the open kitchens, view the produce on display, and interact with the Chefs
preparing food in front of their very eyes.
He is also committed to sharing knowledge and training
young Chefs. In 2007, he participated in a revolutionary program called Dreams
to Reality in which young South Australians were given the chance to become an
In 2006, Jason was named South Australian
Chef of the Year by the state’s Restaurant and Catering Association in their
annual Awards for Excellence. He has also been awarded accolades by the
prestigious Les Chaine des Rotisseurs and Les Toque Blanches.
In addition to his numerous awards, Jason’s
career highlights include cooking for the Queen of England, tennis superstar
Andy Roddick, members of the rock band U2, former Prime Minister John Howard
and former U.S. President, Bill Clinton.
you always wanted to be a Chef?
Ever Since I was 4 or 5 I remember cooking in the
kitchen of my Italian nonna preparing table fulls of fresh gnocchi and her
amazing ragu, I used to roll out the gnocchi for her and she would cut it into
small, fluffy and light pieces, which to this day I have never been able to
taste anything as good as hers, and from that point I wanted to be a Chef.
Albeit with a few disasters along the way and my home economics teacher telling
me that I would never become a Chef.
would you define your style?
Simple basic flavours, good honest food but with a
modern twist. I also love getting guests involved in playing or interacting
with food and local produce.
is your feature flavour these days?
I love a little bit of smokiness at the moment and we
do a beautiful dry aged rib eye, which we lightly smoke under a glass dome prior
to presenting to the guest. When the dish is presented you cannot see what is
inside until the dome is lifted, revealing the rib eye.
Victorian produce and building relationships with our
farmers, producers and suppliers. I love to visit the farms and see food being
grown at the source. This is also a great learning tool for our apprentices
leaving them skills for life.
greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
My previous Chefs, James Fien who taught me about
local produce and foraging well before it became popular. His work ethic and
teamwork between front of house has always been a cornerstone for my career.
Roger Peters and Chris Sellors both of whom came to Adelaide from Michel Roux
Waterside Inn and taught me how to refine my cooking and also to not be happy
with mediocrity. Sometimes I produced test dishes many times before they made
their way onto the menu.
do you love about this business?
The ability to create something new that no one has
seen or tasted before. Also the amazing passion and energy generated from Chefs,
service professionals and also our guests who are more educated about food and
produce than ever before.
ingredient you can’t live without?
Salt, pepper and good tomatoes. Seasoning can make or
break a dish and I also have tomatoes running through my veins.
‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?
We once produced a scallop ice cream, which at the
time I thought was amazing but now I think about it I may have pushed the
envelope a little too far.
Tartare from the Sea: Yellowfin Tuna, gochujang and radish.
Recipe in our recipe section.