Not a piece of Danish

I knew once I walked in there that’s where I wanted to work, it was for the rich and famous 

Born?

1979. 

Best kitchens worked?

People for me make the kitchen, the friends we make, learning from each other or the fun crazy experience that you talk about years down the track.  Of course not forgetting the quality of food that comes from the kitchen.  The crazy fun times are when you’re having a cake fight and the cake splats across Gordon Ramsey’s office door or you’re in the office every Sunday due to misbehaving. But better yet staying awake for over 24 hours due to working and training for competitions or studying.  

Where is your kitchen now?

Shangri-La is such a beautiful place to work, I have given it a different edge when it comes to the sweet products, the place to train, the place to eat and the place that people are talking about.  To me it’s about making a difference not been that boring hotel and doing what everyone else but changing it and giving it a little bit of a cool edge the dessert degustation, training with skilled pastry chefs most importantly want my staff to have fun doing a great job that their proud of. 

Is it a skill or a trade but higher in Europe than Australia and what does MOF mean?

Europe is a whole different world; with endless competition, better opportunities but at the same time there are a lot more people.  There are a lot of prestigious competitions.  Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, MOF is the highest and most respected pastry competition in the world.  Kings of Pastry is a must watch documentary.  

It’s cool to be on TV right?

You mean when I was on MasterChef in 2015? Anything that your proud of, is cool from being on television or high-end dining. There are two sides with television that have showcased our industry differently.

It is a little annoying though how people change their chose of employment get on television and then come away with it wanting to be super stars, skipping the training process that we all have done or the emotional and sacrifices.  

But then on the other hand Adriano came away from it been a great success from MasterChef along with building his business and our industry but then you also have my good friend Kylie Millar that too was on MasterChef, that is working hard at B&P sweet studio in Melbourne doing very long hours, relocating for her career and training with Kirsten Tibbals at Savour School in Melbourne.  

People walk into it and opportunities open up, but then that is media if you’re at the back line no one will pay attention, you need to put yourself out there.  

Couverture companies that are giving back to pastry chefs?

Gary Willis from F Mayer imports. These always that small hand full of people that you respect because they have helped grow you to the person that you have become professionally.  To be respectful of other people’s work, to be loyal and to give back into the industry.  Not only does Gary and the company invest so much time and money into the industry, individuals but rather the emotional support too.  I don’t think there is ever anything I can do to repay Gary for what he has done for me. 

Where can pastry chefs go to make them feel excited?

I hit Savour pastry school to get trained by Kirsten Tibbals and Paul Kennedy along with the rest of the team there.  Paul Kennedy is a character this personality is whity, funny and never too shy to hold back from a comment.  The knowledge and skill, my staff are in love with Kirsten and question why I don’t know what she knows.  I sometimes feel they want to trade me in for her.  I attend the school at least 3-5 times a year.    

Not only do I catch up with great friends but at the same time I learn from the best.  

Then there is the Sydney pastry club, which was formed to allow executive pastry chefs to learn from each other in a non-competitive environment.  There are training facilities for apprentices but not any for seniors.  

Let’s get things straight there is still a demand for pastry chefs in dining?

You can always spot a restaurant that has a kitchen chef doing pastry or yet an apprentice that has been placed there to do it.  

Pastry chefs are a rare breed; the last course is always remembered.  That’s my theory; pastry chefs give that finishing touch that people talk about and for that all the good restaurants require that skill level that can meet the guests’ expectations.

When searching for top ingredients and career aspirations it is it important to network? Networking is compulsory in every aspect in every job, opens opportunities and allows you to be with people like-minded.  Also get to learn from each other, that even includes new products.   

A tip for head chefs, executive chefs looking for pastry chefs and apprentices?

By building themselves a great reputation and people will follow.  I just go judge competitions they do great I slip a business card and offer them a job after.  That’s only happened once, I had a great staff member come to me I was out judging they did really well and like anything once you compete in a competition do really well the door opens for a short period of time and opportunities yes are very much thrown at you.  Social media is a great way to find staff, but best always is through word-of-mouth.    

How high is the ceiling after a woman returns to the kitchen after children?

Is there anymore career? I can’t really answer this question as I’m not looking at popping out children anytime soon, my children in the kitchen are loud and whingeing and I have 10 of them - that’s enough.  I also have never worked with a mother, my team have always been young and worked so many hours they didn’t have time for a social life. 

Has the weather here anything to do with the lack of pastry chefs and ingredients?  

I would think that the weather attracts pastry chefs, people love good weather and the weather situation shouldn’t make a difference.  Australia has great produce I only use Australian fruit as I want to support our local farmers and I go with season of course to get the best product at the best time.

What percentage of pastry chefs go into management?

Well I started off as a kitchen chef apprenticeship and then from there I decided to go ahead and get into pastry.  I was lucky enough that I worked for a great hotel that allowed the apprentices to get rotated in every department.  Once I got to pastry I had two great pastry executives that I could learn from.  I went to university to get my degree in pastry in London and continuously doing to competitions to push myself to learn more.  

What ratio of pastry chefs have worked overseas and do you recommend it?

I recommend it for sure, its crazy work so hard but you party just as hard I loved it.  There was never a dull moment. I was away from home I could do whatever I wanted but I had career goals and this kept me level headed to some degree.  I don’t find that there are many pastry chefs heading overseas I think Australia is growing culinary wise its getting a lot stronger so chefs aren’t seeing the need to go over especially if they can get the same kind of training in their own country.  

Is molecular still an extension of pastry today?

Yeah for sure it’s moving more towards gastronomic side but then I view it also as a trend that’s going to fade away.  People always go back to classics but then at the sometime the gastronomic way is just the way some people’s style is.    

Obsession ingredients?

Vanilla. I love it, such a natural flavour Vanilla and herbs, vanilla is such a natural and vitalised ingredient it just blends with everything and anything.  Herbs too, they are not only just the final touch of the dish but more the freshness and completes the dish. 

Early influences?

Miss Julie Sharpe my mentor. When no one believed in me and didn’t want me because I was a troubled apprentice she took me under her wing, believed in me and showed me what love for food was about

Future plans?

Oh where do I even begin! There is always something currently something in the pipeline where it involves a different edge of pastry.  Chocolate body paint; music, sweet canapés, fundraisers, cookbooks. The list is never ending.