I have exciting news; I have left Bathers Pavilion and have accepted a position with Sydney city’s Shangri-La Hotel.
Originally, this article was going to be about my transition from restaurants back into big hotels and how the grass is always greener on the other side. Nonetheless, when I mentioned this topic to my girlfriend she was shocked and proceeded to tell me I was being arrogant.
To tell the truth however, I can’t really say the grass is greener on the other side, because the Shangri-La Hotel is already shaping up to be a fantastic and challenging opportunity.
Shangri-La’s executive chef Steven Kisicke is someone who I admire and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be his pastry chef. This guy works so hard; he is both a demon and an angel in chef whites. And with Balzac and Banc on his CV, he is certainly no average chef. I particularly respect Steven’s knack for delivering on all his promises. We certainly share the same professional views and he supports and trusts my judgment.
My sous chef Jee has been running the show for the past two months and has been doing an amazing job; I am so glad to have a strong and driven second to lead beside me. I’m even more excited about Tim Downy (pictured), a cool and quiet demi whose arms are tattooed with character. Tim’s Red Skin Macarons – 37 Red Skins, 460ml cream and 700ml white chocolate – are amazing.
I also seem to have wonderful apprentice girls who already have homework. I ensured they read up on choux pastry and caramelised white chocolate in Burch and Purchase’s book Sweet Studio
Good news, my golden child Felicity who followed me from Melbourne to Sydney and then to Lux Bite for a dessert degustation has also joined me at the Shangri-La Hotel. She puts in the hard work and it’s really paid off for her. Well done Felicity, I am very proud and you have a bright future ahead of you.
It’s not just the people who I love at the Shangri-La Hotel, it’s also the kitchen. I am in love with the blast chiller, an office equipped with a computer, walk-in fridges and freezers, and a chocolate room that isn’t being used yet but will soon be in full-operation. There are also deck ovens, a full-length combi oven and an ice-cream machine on the way. Best of all, I have an equipment budget! Normally, I would waste no time changing a kitchen to be just as I’d like it, but Steven sensibly told me to calm down and to get my feet wet – to take baby steps and to adapt to the work place first. Yes, he’s a wise man.
Nonetheless, this is not to say I did not have a wonderful time at Bathers Pavilion. Bathers was an amazing opportunity to grow and to develop my skills. However, there just wasn’t the same budget allocation for equipment, nor the same amount of workspace for storage. To me at the time, it was perfect and I thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded with such talented and inspiring pastry chefs. Best of all, I left on a good note.
The only disconcerting aspect of this transition was the Shangri-La human resource person who asked me to take my piercings out. It’s quite possible she had talked with my parents, who have previously offered me a $5000 bribe to take the lip ring out!
Like always, as one door closes another opens, and the door to the Shangri-La offers a range of new challenges and development opportunities. I thank Steven for this opportunity.