Recipe: Wallis Lake Bonito in warm pickle of tarragon and garlic

A highlight of the national finalists produce tour through NSW this year was having the opportunity to cook for the fisher community of Wallis Lake at a pop up restaurant at the Forster Tuncurry race track. The young chefs chose from that morning’s catch thanks to the Wallis Lake Fisherman’s Co-Op. Below is the recipe for the Wallis Lake Bonito the team of young chef Zack Furst; young waiter Morgan Golledge & young restaurateur Dave Parker put together for the dinner. Morgan recommends matching, ‘I would go an Italian white blend like Occhipinti Bianco. Something with texture but still great acidity and slight oxidative nuttiness. If you can get your hands on that it’s a winner otherwise Brash Higgins Zibbibo or anything premium with skin contact, depth and driving acid’.

Ingredients – serves 4

1 x whole bonito – you can ask your fish monger to gut & scale if you prefer

1 x cucumber

100g shallots

1 bunch tarragon

2 x garlic cloves

50mls olive oil

200ml sweet chardonnay vinegar

Pinch  sugar

Flaked salt to taste


For the Bonito

* Wash and gut bonito
* Fillet bonito, then remove ribs and then slice down the spine separating the top fillet and belly.
* Finally carve out the pin bones wipe dry and sit in a stainless steel deep tray.

For the Finishing Salad

* With 50g shallots slice super fine and place in steel bowl.
* Then julienne the cucumber
* Fold through shallots and dress with a small amount of olive oil and salt

For the warm pickle

* Slice 50g of the shallots and the 2 garlic cloves thinly,
* Place in a medium size pot and cover with sweet Chardonnay vinegar and 100mls of water.
* Bring to a slow simmer, add tarragon, olive oil and allow to steep for 45 minutes.
* Season with salt and a small amount of sugar.

To finish

* Bring the warm pickle to a simmer then pour over bonito.
* Allow the bonito to steep for 20 minutes.
* Remove fillets onto paper towel.
* Finally place fillets neatly in the centre of desired dish
* Then cover fish in the fresh  finishing salad
* Add some flaked salt and serve with lemon slices.

The Classic Martinez with Sonia Bandera

Sonia Bandera was our young waiter of the year in 2013. Here she shares top trends for 2017 and her go to classic cocktail recipe The Martinez..

What do you see trending in Melbourne right now?

The trend of people making Australian Vermouths, Bitters etc is really starting to take off and we’re seeing better quality products. There’s also more of an openness from the general public to try alternatives to the brands of Campari and Aperol and other big names like them. As the public becomes more informed and more open, the market for these things is opening up. I’m a huge fan of Contratto Bitter and Aperitif as substitutes for Campari and Aperol as well as their White Vermouth. I also love that the Australian counterparts are embracing our native ingredients. There is so much to be utilised and appreciated here.

What’s exciting you about 2017?

I think that I’m excited about the same thing everyone is – Melbourne playing host to The Worlds 50 Best! We’re going to have all the leading Professionals in our industry coming to our shores and I’m excited to show them just how rich our Food and Drink culture is. I’m hoping we are able to showcase the things that are native to Australia and also our multiculturalism. Hopefully this also includes us embracing and showcasing our Indigenous culture, which shamefully, we don’t do enough.

What do you see as the next big thing in 2017?

I think we’re going to see the emergence (or re-emergence) of the proper late-night eatery. As Melbourne moves to be a 24 hour city, we’re already seeing more venues do one off late nights or venues such as Kirk’s with their new site. Hospitality staff may rejoice at the prospect of something other than Ling Nam to eat after work!

What are you ‘crushing on’ this week?

I’m a big fan of a good cocktail. I owe most of what I know to the patient and talented people at The Black Pearl. I have been known to sit and pick their brains and ask lots of questions. To their credit, they’re free with their knowledge and make an amazing drink. I have a few standards that I fall back on but the one that tops the list and that I’m really loving again this week, and to take us back to Vermouths and such, is the Martinez. I love a good classic and the guys down at the Pearl make a mean one with Ransom Barrel aged Gin. I like mine Vermouth heavy but you can play around with the specs depending on your tastes.

#AppetiteAlumni applications are now open until 03 April 2017. See why you should consider entering!

My preferred recipe for this Grandfather to the Martini is…

50mls Sweet Vermouth

25mls Old Tom Gin (I like Ransom Barrel Aged personally)

1 barspoon Luxardo Maraschino

Dash of Orange Bitters (technically Boker or Jerry Thomas but doesn’t have to be)

Stir down and serve straight up in a Coupette or Martini Glass.

Lemon garnish (traditionally a lemon triangle but a twist does fine as well).


© 2016 Alyson Thomas/Drywell Art, available at

Appetite for Young Swines Lunch

The Old Clare Hotel and the site of the old Carlton United Brewery seemed a fitting venue for the Sydney leg of the Appetite for Young Swines event – an Appetite for Excellence and PorkStar project to help foster a community of young like-minded hospitality professionals, where they can see; hear & learn from the rising stars of the hospitality industry.

The event kicked off with a welcome cocktail shaken (not stirred) by Gerald Ryan, restaurant manager of Oscillate Wildly in Newtown. Gerald was the Electrolux Australian Young Waiter in 2014 and had carefully selected the beverages to match the dishes our alumni Aaron Ward of sixpenny, Jake Davey of est. & Troy Crisante of Bennelong had collaborated on. Rounding out the team with her ever professional front of house flair was Brooke Adey restaurant manager of The Paddington Inn & Electrolux Young Waiter 2015. A special mention & thanks to Dan from sixpenny who came to help out the lads in the kitchen. You are a superstar!


In between the courses and throughout the day we hit each of the Appetite for Young Swines up with some hard hitting questions about the industry; their commitment to hospitality; why collaborations are important for the industry and what advice they would give to a younger version of themselves. 

What inspired you to become a sommelier Gerald & a chef Aaron?

Gerald: My Colleagues. Working in a fine dining restaurant as a food runner as my first proper job in hospitality, and hearing the Sommelier’s talking about wine, using language I’d never heard intrigued me, and I immediately became the pest, asking all of the annoying questions of them, until they pointed me towards a couple of books, and I was away.

Aaron: I have always been interested in food as cliché as it sounds, but I would read recipes as a child and watch the cooking shows on TV. I think the fact that this industry is always changing, with new ingredients, techniques, and equipment being available also interests me. There is never a dull day or moment, it all just depends on how far you want to take it.

What motivates you and inspires you daily?

Gerald: Again, the people I work with. Seeing small business owners constantly at the helm of their operations, steering it in the right way, is motivation enough. Watching Karl Firla and Dan Hunter run their business’ so efficiently, but tirelessly changing menu’s, and market runs at the crack of dawn, all the while balancing restaurant life with a life outside their venues, has been a constant inspiration.

Aaron: Cooking to me is not just about food; it is also about bringing people together and creating a memorable experience. Sitting around a table with family and friends, having the opportunity to cook for them, and the feeling of gratification is something I love. Being able to achieve these same feelings and experiences in a restaurant setting should be what all chefs strive for.  Showing passion and pride in what I cook is always apparent, whether it is for guests in the restaurant, family at home, or a staff meal.

What advice would you give a younger version of yourself?

Gerald: Write notes on what you are tasting!!

Aaron: Travel and experience different cultures and cuisines as much as possible. Go and spend time in different countries of the cuisines that interest you, learn the techniques and how the local chefs are bringing their own modern take on the culinary traditions.

What three pieces of advice would you give anyone considering it as a career?


1. It is the small things that make the big things fall into place. Long hours on your feet can take it out of you. Moving heavy tables, cartons of wine, polishing glasses, all very un-glamorous. But it’s the little things that matter. The final detail of the room, final check of set up, that really make things actually tick.

2. You need to love it. At times, you will hate it, it’s just how it is, but it’s got to be an overriding feeling of satisfaction and love for your job that motivates you. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, find a way to, or do something else!

3. You need to have work – life balance. As is true with anything, but especially with Hospitality, where the hours can tend to lean on the unsociable.



1. Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can. The food industry is ever expanding, finding new experiences and opportunities to develop tastes and techniques. However, knowledge and understanding of the classics are pillars to building a successful and exciting career.

2. Keep your head down and work hard even with the long hours and little sleep, being a chef is a demanding career but if you embrace it, it is very rewarding.

3. Try to have a balanced work life and life outside of work. Having a balanced work/life is essential for mental health and productivity at work.

Do you think collaborations are important for chefs, FOH and the industry and why?

Gerald: I do, I think collaborations help shift every day routine, and challenge both front and back of house to think differently. If just for a once off, or a series of events, you learn how to operate in limited space and in different locations (kitchens, FOH spaces) which only broadens your experience and challenges the way you look at things.

Aaron: Yes, collaborations are very important as a chef.  The opportunity to meet and talk with other chefs about food, learning their different techniques and then bringing them back and putting them in use. Cooking and eating different cuisines give chefs a bigger perspective on how large and diverse the industry really is.


How do you think we can inspire people to consider hospitality as a career?

Gerald: I’d like to say starting from the bottom, in school, and not making it seem a job for dropouts, but I understand how unrealistic this is. Honestly, I am unsure, except for constantly putting forward the best face of the industry, and showing how you can have a tangible reward for hard work and effort.

Aaron: The hospitality environment has drastically changed over the last 15 years. A career in hospitality is professionally recognised and accepted and there are many different channels of progression within this career choice which allows for constant expanding of skills and knowledge.  There are also not many careers which allow you to work anywhere in the world, whether being a chef or front of house you will never be out of work.

What do you think needs to change/be done in the industry to keep those within it motivated/inspired to stay?

Gerald: I think the industry has come a long way in the 10 years I have been involved, especially when it comes to motivating people to stay involved. As the industry grows, it falls on the people who have been involved in the industry for a while to nurture the new generation, and I can see that happening in Sydney at the moment, with small groups or individual restaurants expanding, and the teams within those small restaurants teaching the new generation and staff, and again turning that cog of motivation/inspiration.

Aaron: Flexibility with working hours and days – It is a given that as a chef you will miss out on many special occasions and the choice when taking your holidays. Most chefs are accepting of this fact, however, to inspire chefs to stay longer in the industry this may be something to consider especially as a chef grows older and family commitments become a priority.

You can read more from Appetite for Young Swine Brooke & Jake here.

As the lunch progressed the chefs along with Brooke & Gerald were able to speak to the group about their experiences within the hospitality industry; what inspires them in their careers; how the stay motivated; why the beverages were chosen for the dishes and how the dishes were cooked.

The food was amazing; the drinks delicious and the company even more so! Thanks to everyone who came along (and to those who had driven from regional areas especially for the event) and to the team behind the event. You can check out all of the event pics here!

Sign up for our newsletter to find out when our next appetite for young swines event is and to keep up to date with appetite for excellence (don’t worry we won’t bombard you emails…)

La Louisiane Cocktail Recipe with George Papaioannou

George Papaioannou, waiter at Luxembourg in Melbourne describes his service style as approachable, knowledgeable, humble. He also loves a good cocktail & shared his ‘cocktail of the now’ recipe with us along with his predictions for 2017 below.

What do you see trending in Melbourne right now?

Who doesn’t love an Aperol Spritz? Probably still the most wanted drink in Melbourne, especially as summer is just around the corner and our days get longer and our nights get shorter. Refreshing and delicious, it will definitely be on everyone’s mind when the sun starts to shine.

What’s exciting you about 2017?

Melbourne hosting the ‘Olympic Games of Food’ in 2017. The World’s 50 Best is coming down under, and it’s going to feel right at home in Australia’s hospitality mecca, Melbourne.  Restaurants will be buzzing with hospitality folk and respected people within the industry. It’s going to be an exciting time for anyone in Melbourne.

What do you see as the next big thing in 2017?

The next big thing in 2017 could be the return of Gueridon Service. Whereby food is finished and presented at the table. Service that is still casual yet impressive. Filleting fish or Crepes Suzette. Turning the food into a form of entertainment and skill; and bringing an air of sophistication to a casual environment.

What are you ‘crushing on’ this week?

Currently, I do love a good cocktail. Especially a La Louisiane. If it’s starting a meal with one, having one after work or ending a meal with one, it’s a fantastic drink and one for any occasion. There’s a reason I paired it with a dish for the Hunt + Gather Dinner. It’s what I love to drink. A perfect concoction of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Dom Benedictine, Sweet Vermouth and a dash of bitters. Incredible.

La Louisiane Cocktail Recipe

20ml Woodford Reserve Bourbon

20ml Sweet Vermouth

20ml Dom Benedictine

10ml Absinthe

Peychaud’s Bitters


1. Chill your coupe glass by filling with ice while you gather all of your ingredients

2. Rinse chilled coupe with Absinthe

2. In a Mixing glass filled with ice; build Bourbon, Vermouth and Dom Benedictine

3. Stir for 10 seconds

4. Double strain into rinsed coupe

5. Garnish with Maraschino cherry & Enjoy!

Why be one when you can be an army championing what is great about our industry?

You know the floor is in good hands when Electrolux Australian Young Waiter 2015 Brooke Adey is in charge!

Brooke along with fellow Appetite alumni Gerald Ryan served up their exceptional service skills at our recent Appetite for Young Swines lunch. The lunch was produced as part of an Appetite for Excellence and PorkStar project to help foster a hospitality community where young professionals can meet others in the industry, be able to ask questions about food, cooking, beverage matching, front of house skills; seek advice and/or tap into a wider peer group.

Before the lunch kicked off we asked Brooke what inspired her to become a waiter; why she thinks it’s important to foster the careers of young people in the industry and the importance of collaboration.

What inspired you to become a waiter?

What inspired me initially was the family of professionals I worked with at Chianti (in Adelaide). Under Maria’s guidance and leadership I fell in love with this industry.

What motivates you and inspires you daily?

On the other hand, what continues to inspire me today is the passionate, young staff and leaders I get to work with every day.

What advice would you give a younger version of yourself?

Be confident and don’t be afraid to take chances and risks.

What three pieces of advice would you give anyone considering it as a career?

1. Just say yes. Take risks, take opportunities, step out of your comfort zone.

2. Always be open to learning, and sharing.

3. Love what you do. That passion is infectious, to the people you work with and the people you serve.

Do you think collaborations are important for chefs, FOH and the industry and why?

Collaborations are integral. Why be one when you can be an army championing what is great about our industry. Plus, you have the opportunity to learn from your peers, tasting new things, learning new techniques.

How do you think we can inspire people to consider hospitality as a career?

As young leaders, we must be ambassadors for our industry. We must work with those in our restaurants and create an environment that nurtures and fosters talent and passion.

What do you think needs to change/be done in the industry to keep those within it motivated/inspired to stay?

It is integral that we create a workplace that encourages creativity and risk taking. Those with an interest in hospitality must be given an opportunity to learn and challenge themselves. Sharing small responsibilities or working with your staff to resolve challenges within the business can show them you have confidence in their abilities.

the insider’s guide to eating/drinking in Canberra

Ever wondered where those in the biz head to for great eating and drinking? We’re often asked so we headed to our  #youngexcellence almuni for the lowdown and the insider’s guide to eating/drinking….Canberra with AKIBA & Sages Andy Day.

Where do you go for coffee before work/after work/not at work?

We’re spoilt for choice in Canberra with great local roasters. Right in the centre of Canberra is Coffee Lab, run by ONA Coffee, which is my favourite spot for a pre-work coffee. A bit further afield and a crazy-busy weekend favourite is Redbrick Espresso in Curtin who also do great food, and Highgate Lane in Kingston put their roaster on full display so is a fun and busy spot with great service.

Favourite places for breakfast and brunch?

Brunch is kind of my thing because I’m probably at work for most of my other meals! My fiancée and I really like the food at TwoforJoy in Kingston, it’s always changing and is really creative and generous. Likewise at The Cupping Room, I’m a sucker for Central American food and their dishes are always on point.

Favourite restaurants in your home state for special occasions?

Canberra punches well above its weight for fine diners and good places for that special time. I love Pod food out at Pialligo; it’s charming, seasonal, has a great wine list and Brent leads a crack team of service professionals. Brunch at Pod is about as fine-dining as brunch can get and it is spectacular.

I also love the dinner experience at Courgette in the centre of Canberra and it’s the go-to for birthdays and anniversaries. The wine list makes celebrating easy!

Best bars to head to after work and on your days off?

A number of small bars have popped up in Canberra over the past few years and getting a glass of something interesting is easy and always relaxing. My new favourite is Vincent, in Barton, which has a daily list of wines – almost all by the glass – that always has something I haven’t tried before. The fun vibe and scrabble-pieces menu is light entertainment to match. Also good for a glass of wine and a snack in the afternoon is Parlour Wine Room in New Acton with a beautiful vintage fitout and sunny terrace is super relaxing. A big nod to local producers and a crafty cocktail list make it a good Sunday afternoon. For an after work beverage the best place for me is Monster. A great wine list, an extremely good negroni, and a kitchen closing at 1am means I can get a second dinner in if I want in the comfort of a fireplace and either my thoughts, good company, or choice banter from the service team.

Where do you go for fresh, seasonal produce and market bargains?

Canberra’s Saturday morning farmers markets at the showground is a highlight of the city. Producers come from all over NSW and Victoria bringing great quality, fresh produce. The markets are separated into those who sell, and those who grow and sell, so if you’re mad keen on knowing the origin of your food you can ask the person selling it to you and they can tell you when they plucked it from the farm. To me that’s the best.

Also good and certainly if your stocks from Saturday run low there are the Fyshwick fresh food markets which house most of Canberra’s fruit & veg suppliers, butchers and fishmongers, so getting quality produce is always easy there. If it means I have to walk via Plonk, one of the country’s best boutique bottle shops, as I shop then so be it!

Where have you had the best interstate dining experiences?

It’s tough to choose between Cutler & Co in Melbourne and The Bridge Room in Sydney. The first time I went to Cutler & Co there were at least three dishes that made the hairs on my neck stand on end, while the service was impeccable and fit-out so comfortable and classy at the same time. I felt so looked after and just shell-shocked by how good a place they had created.

Meanwhile my first, second and third experiences at the Bridge Room took place within a fortnight. I loved it so much on my first mission (a solo birthday lunch) that I rebooked for later that week for my management team and then the week after with my family. When a venue gets everything in harmony like they do its addictive and hard to keep away!


Floriade 2016 runs from 17-Sept to 16-Oct 2016. You can check out the full program here

See where else our #youngexcellence alumni go to in ACTNSWNTQLDSATASVICWA

and it’s almost a wrap…

And the awards go to….

it’s been a big year so far. We’ve created new initiatives – Appetite for Young Swines; held cook off’s & wait offs; took this years alumni on a produce tour and last month we celebrated Australia’s innovative fresh produce – our young talent – at our awards night in Sydney. The young chefs, waiters and restaurateurs that have been involved in the program this year in addition to the crowning of the Australian Young Restaurateur; Waiter and Chef 2016 at a star studded event on the 08 August 2016. We, as a program strive to inspire, nurture and celebrate young passionate hospitality professionals. As an industry, we need to support and embrace the next generation no only in our restaurants and bars but also in our conversations and thinking so that the industry can continue to thrive.  Every single professional who entered the program deserves to be congratulated for challenging themselves, being open to learning different ways of doing things as well as their own passion and commitment to their careers. We take our hats off to all of our national finalists and to the those that were awarded;

L-R: Electrolux Australian Young Waiter Andrew Day; Electrolux Australian Restaurateur Cameron Cansdell; Electrolux Australian Young Chef Aaron Ward

The winner’s for each category;

Electrolux Australian Young Waiter of the Year 2016

People’s Choice: Andrew Day

Highly Commended: Natasha Janetzki

Australian Young Waiter: Andrew Day

Electrolux Australian Young Restaurateur of the Year 2016

Australian Young Restaurateur : Cameron Cansdell

Electrolux Australian Young Chef of the Year 2016

People’s Choice: Zackary Furst

Highly Commended: Zackary Furst

Runner Up: Troy Crisante

Australian Young Chef: Aaron Ward

It’s definitely a journey

Young Waiters

it’s not only waiting tables….. waiters need to be skilled in many different areas, from talking knowledgeably about the menu and recommending wines, to making sure the customers needs and requests are catered for all with grace, poise and a bit of theatre. This also is part of our judging process where our waiters spent two full days with the judging panel taking part in many different aspects of what it takes to be a waiters. We provide a myriad of experiences, the ability to learn, be tested and show their skills.

Wayne from JOTO shared his knowledge of squid in a masterclass about the different flavour profiles, textures and how they are caught.  Beverage legends and judges Nick Hildebrandt & Simon Denton took the waiters through an interactive food and beverage masterclass where a discussion was had on the best matches. There was one-on-one interviews with judges Lisa van Haandel & Sam Christie to find out more about their careers, philosophies and future goals. Oh and the quiz like paper testing them on their service; food and beverage knowledge and practices. This was all before being put to their paces at a pop-up lunch for 100 guests where all their knowledge and service know how was put to the test! “It’s an absolutely amazing program – being surrounded by all these professionals who are at such a high level, it has really helped me to affirm why I do what I do, and why I love what I do. Learning from the judges with all that combined knowledge – whether or not you win, it’s incredibly energising to go back into the industry knowing there’s that kind of support,” Andrew Day on winning and being involved in the program.

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Young Restaurateurs

The restaurateurs had a LOT of questions put to them about their business; their vision and their roles within their business before sitting down individually with the judging panel of Lucy Allon; Christine Manfield; Peter Sullivan and Marilyn Annecchini in one-on-one interviews. The young restaurateur judges noted that “All three finalists were very strong contenders. All of them are dynamic and focused, and leading great teams and businesses. They can all be very proud of what they have achieved and should be congratulated for the role they are each playing in the industry. We look forward to seeing this year’s Young Restaurateur winner and finalists continuing to be inspiring role models for young people in the hospitality industry.”

Cameron Cansdell says “This program is all about the participation, and it’s given us an incredible foundation for our future,” he added “and to win – I’m thrilled. It’s a dream that’s come into reality.”

AFE KELVIN JULY 2016012Cameron Cansdell restaurant1AFE DAVID JULY 2016025

Young Chefs

Since pressing submit on their application back in April, the Young Chef national finalists have cooked their way through 3 rounds of judging; spending a total of 8 hours in the kitchen cooking (this doesn’t include prep time or the interviews with the judging panel) with industry heavyweights Dave Pynt; Peter Gilmore; Mark Best; Guy Grossi; Bethany Finn; Duncan Welgemoed, Luke Mangan; Lyndey Milan;  & Troy Rhoades-Brown looking over their shoulders; asking questions as they prep; cook and plate up and what their food philosophies are. Pretty nerve wracking indeed. Aaron Ward said of his award “It was absolutely nerve-wracking until that final moment of accepting the award! But the highlight of the program has definitely been bonding with everyone [the participants] as a team, over the same passion of what we do every day.”

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But it hasn’t all been serious business – there have been laughs along the way – heading out on the produce tour was a highlight and we were very lucky to have such a great group of young people on-board the bus. 

There were a lot of laughs which we would love to share with you however you know they do say what goes on tour stays on tour… However here are some funny anecdotes and be sure to stay tuned as we will be sharing the team stories of their producer visits with you in the coming months!

‘Where’s Dave?’ after leaving without one of the guys

‘It’s not the ghosts you should be scared of’ says the bartender after hearing the group talk about the possibility of the old hotel being haunted!

‘hows that rice pudding coming along’ that never seemed to cook no matter how long it was on the bbq for…

Wallis Lake Fisher Produce TourGraham Barclay Oysters Produce Tour
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Adams Continentals Produce Tour NSWMelanda Pig Farm Produce Tour

Hunt + Gather Dinner

The Hunt + Gather Dinner was held the night before the awards night. Guests were welcomed to the Electrolux Showcase where each table had their own waiter & chef team; their own menu created with inspiration from the produce tour and their own individual experience. It was like the young chef and waiter national finalists had invited their guests into their own home for an exclusive dinner party. The national finalists did an amazing job and a great night was had by all!


We look forward to sharing our stories; recipes; tips and the best places to dine out in Australia over the coming months. You can keep up to date with all of the exciting things we have in store for 2017 and beyond by following our social channels Facebook and Instagram and here on our blog.

A special thanks to all of our sponsors and event partners for their continued support – Electrolux; Sanpellegrino; Virgin Australia; FRDC; Porkstar; Vics Meats; Fraser & Hughes; JOTO; Murdoch Produce; Endeavour Beer and Wine Australia. Looking forward to another great Appetite for Excellence for 2017!

inspiration series… peter sullivan

by Dominic Rolfe

What does the word hospitality mean to you and how has it changed since you started?

Hospitality means generosity of spirit and connection. I think the industry has changed with social media and all the online influences but the essence remains the same – put the customer first and try to connect with them. The great waiters and restaurateurs are the ones who can adjust quickly to different types of people and situations. People have different expectations and the best ones are those who have a clear vision for the product but are fluid enough to meet the demands of a varied customer base.

The expectations are higher than 20 years ago because people are more informed and the shrinking of the world means it’s very competitive. You’re now being benchmarked against what people have seen across the country and around the world. And that those expectations are higher, is a good thing.

The cost of opening now is much higher than it was 20 years ago but the profitability hasn’t increased in sync. But there’s a lot less formality than there was so you can bring your own ideas to a restaurant which in turn means more variety, which is a good thing.

Did you have a mentor?

There were people in the industry that we looked up to such as [fellow judge] Peter Doyle and Maurice Terzini. We looked at their passion and what they had achieved. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a business mentor which we really should have. I think this is really crucial. And it’s one piece of advice that I’d give to anyone starting out: find someone they trust and who has expertise in business to give them an outside opinion. Sometimes you get so caught up in business that you can’t see the forest for the trees. And you need someone to point that out to you. Whether that’s the way you’re running the business or the profitability.

And I also think, in relation to hospitality, the big thing is never judge a customer. Treat everyone the same; each person deserves the same level of respect.

What was the goal when you opened and is it different now?

The goal for the first restaurant was just to have a decent living and do what we loved to do. Then when opportunities present themselves, you can take them if you’re in the space to be able to take advantage of them. But you’ve got to nurture your team to get them working happily and in tune with the business so that you can trust them to go out and replicate your vision in a new venture. And to put their spin on it as well.

The excitement and challenge of opening a restaurant is great. There’s a lot of stress but there’s a buzz that’s hard to replicate. And if it’s a high profile location, there’s a lot of attention and it’s such a social business that it adds to that pressure. And if you handle pressure the right way, it can be a really positive and motivating thing.

Do you have a piece of advice for current restaurateurs starting out? Did you have a piece of advice that you’ve carried through?

The simplest thing is treat your staff the way you would expect to be treated. It’s a big responsibility being accountable for staff and their wages and everything else. If you can, use the “self-rule” (treat them as you would like to be treated) and be really honest and communicate with them. When people are managed properly, they’ll be very loyal and they’ll return the investment in spades. And if you invest in people and take the time to manage them properly, your business will be more stable.


Sam Christie: finding inspiration in the hospitality industry

by Dominic Rolfe

What does the word hospitality mean to you and how has it changed since you started?

Hospitality means taking care of your customers and making sure they’re having a great meal, are enjoying the experience and making sure they leave in a positive mindset. They are the basics of hospitality – you can go into a lot of depth, the quality of the wine, the food, the whole experience but from a front-of-house perspective, even if the food isn’t amazing, if you’re having a great time and you feel like you’re in safe hands, that’s great hospitality.

Did you have a mentor?

I’ve worked for a few people that I would consider mentors. I worked for Tony Pappas and the Bayswater Brasserie guys. Tony was great for me. And when I worked for Tetsuya, he taught me a lot about hard work and making sure that everything is the same every time, that consistency is what you’re aiming for.

What was the goal when you opened and is it different now?

When I started out, I always wanted to have my own restaurant and be my own boss. And when that happened, it was about constantly improving.

I’m quite motivated by my staff and I find by keeping them completely in the game and enjoying working, they really motivate me. I never linger in bed in the morning, I’m always pretty pumped to go to work.

 Do you have a piece of advice for young hospitality professionals starting out? 

My mantra is consistency. I tell chefs and waiters that you need to do it the same every time. If you’re going to change it, it needs to be better and you have to let me know!

Did you have a piece of advice that you’ve carried through?

And my advice is the same whether you’re in the kitchen or on the floor: enjoy your work and leave your baggage at the door.

Just really enjoy your work and don’t be scared to ask questions. You can’t guess a lot of things! And don’t make the same mistake twice.