The Star can launch careers skywards

An entertainment destination hosting cuisines from around the globe and offers chefs sky-high opportunities 

It means rubbing shoulders with household names like Stefano Manfredi or Adriano Zumbo in a complex that this year proudly boasts six hats, including Restaurant of the Year winner Momofuku Seiobo. 

After tasting The Star’s impressive seafood buffet on-board provided at the Executive Chefs Club raft-up with the Sydney fishermen, we are here with Andy North, The Star’s general manager of food and beverage to meet some of the diverse chefs behind the organisation and discover what drives their passion for food.  

Executive chef Uday Huja says it’s about identifying and developing the talent. 

The Star’s training program offers its 30 apprentices the experience of working from casual to fine dining all the way up to three hats across a range of cuisines. 

“You can go your whole career and not get to work at the very top,” Huja says. “It’s a unique opportunity for these young culinarians. You can see so many different types of cuisines. 

“Some people have an innate ability but it’s really about how hard they want to work to understand. Those with an inquisitive mind will succeed.” 

Huja hails from the Southern United States and now makes his home on Sydney’s northern beaches. 

It’s been a career that has so far taken him from formative culinary experiences exploring seasonal produce in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (John Denver country) to hosting a state dinner at the White House. 

He finds a key question to ask his young guns is what meal they would cook if he was a guest in their home. 

For Huja the answer is simple: “I would cook for you fried chicken and waffles. Being from the South, Southern cuisine is close to my heart. 

“My heritage is Indian so I do a couple of curries. That soul food, comfort food, it doesn’t have to be fancy, it has to come from the heart.” 

For executive sous chef Jason Alcock, who apprenticed in his native Western Australia and now lives in Pyrmont, it’s about getting quality fresh produce locally down at the Sydney Fish Market. 

Although Alcock admits he practically lives at The Star and mainly eats from the 5000 meals served daily at the staff canteen, for a guest at home he would cook pan-seared Hervey Bay scallops with truffle puree and caviar. For dessert it’s a classic chocolate fondant with a biscuit base topped with a ganache. 

“It’s one of my favourite things because it’s always impressive to serve in a restaurant,” he says, confessing he put on the pounds during his time as a pastry chef. 

“They said you’ve got to go back on the line to lose some weight!” Alcock also champions The Star’s training program, with its calendar tailored to offer masterclasses in various areas of cuisine before apprentices hit TAFE. 

“They are hitting the ground running. It’s more tailored for their learning. We want to see what they are excited about.”  

Rounding out our visit is a meal at The Star’s latest property, Pizzaperta Manfredi, a piazza-style outdoor pizza bar offering quality doughs and seasonal flavours washed down with local and Italian beer and wine. 

Chef-pizzaiolo Gianluca Donzelli started working in kitchens after coming to Australia from his native Italy to pursue his first love – pro-surfing. 

Donzelli quickly found he had a knack for dough and on returning home entered a prestigious world pizza competition. 

Upon being placed highly, his mother revealed a well-kept family secret. 

Although no one had told him, Donzelli was actually a third-generation pizzaiolo. 

Happily now, he’s back in Sydney to share this tradition with the rest of us at The Star. So after sampling everything on offer here, for any young guns aiming for a world-class training experience trying their luck at The Star may be the perfect way to fast-track a successful and rewarding career.