Hi Hamish, it’s great chatting to you today thanks so much for your time. We have been following you since winning last year’s Young Chef of the Year competition – how has that experience shaped you as a chef so far?
Hey Gaby, thanks for having me. The competition was a huge learning curve for me. Having to create menus isn’t something that I hadn’t done a whole lot before it and seeing how everything came to fruition on the plate was amazing for me. It helped me to understand how a restaurant is run in a much deeper capacity and inspired me to be more creative following it.
What was one of the most challenging moments throughout the competition?
The night of the finals was a huge push for me. I came in to check on a few orders the day before and was told that I had booked out my side of the restaurant and started spilling covers into the main dining room. The whole day was a push to get everything ready for the 72 guests and at a few points during the day I was honestly thinking to myself “How?” But it all worked out fine in the end thankfully.
And one of the funniest?
One of my favorite moments had to be watching a good friend of mine, who is not particularly inclined to my not entirely normal cooking style. Watching him getting every dish, listening to the explanation, pulling a very confused face, and watching that face turn to enjoyment after he’d started eating it was quite entertaining to watch.
What are you working on at the moment?
It’s quite a busy time for me at the moment with work, having just taken a step up to a sous chef role, but I have a few small projects in the works. A small shoot with Julian George (@chefsignatures) and am going back to my home town in Australia to do a pop up at a food festival in September. Definitely hoping to be few small pop ups once things calm down a bit with work.
How do you describe your cooking style?
I’m still trying to define exactly what it is that I would call my cooking style, I know it involves a good amount of Nordic, Asian and Italian influence, a lot of which I inherited from Adolfo de Cecco during his time at Pidgin. Working with sustainability and seasonality is something that I’ve always been incredibly passionate about and I guess that influences my food quite a lot. I could go on but to put a long story short, I think I have a bit more learning to do before I can completely define what it is that my style is, but it’s something around that.
What do you do to stay educated about new trends?
For me it’s a combination of eating, reading and scrolling, as corny as that sounds. Reading cookbooks and blogs give probably a more better insight into how to make something but I think nowadays we can gain so much inspiration from seeing a picture on a social networking site and then creating something around that that fits our own needs.
So much of our knowledge as chefs comes not just from reading a recipe or flipping through a cookbook, it comes from visiting and eating at restaurants and completely immersing ourselves in the food and the atmosphere of a place. Tasting and experiencing gives so much more of an insight.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Be enthusiastic and ask questions. One of my favorite things in a kitchen is seeing someone who may not necessarily be the most technically skilled person, but you can see they’re incredibly passionate and, most of all, want to learn. I’ve found that in general, chef’s are much more patient and willing to teach people who they can tell are trying their hardest.
As a chef what digital platforms do you use the most to get noticed?
Instagram is my go-to for social media, I’ve not reached out on too many other platforms, I think it just works so well for the industry (Follow Hamish on Instagram)
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
For me it may seem silly and really small but a sauce whisk. For so many years I’d struggled with trying to whisk small pots with big whisks and since someone showed me a sauce whisk my life has been changed forever.
What are you most excited about right now in the food scene?
I’m really excited to see the push towards sustainable cooking in our industry through some really cool new practices. Places like Silo and Amass who are putting out incredibly high level food but managing to make a positive impact on our planet is incredible inspiring. It is so easy to create waste and in some places it just doesn’t work for the restaurant’s style, but it is great to see restaurants like these becoming more and more prevalent.
Fill in the blank: if I weren’t a chef I’d be…
A lot less tired probably. (only kidding)
If I weren’t a chef I’d be a journalist, probably still involved with food though to be honest.
Where would you take your out of town guests for a memorable dinner?
I would have to go with Brat. I ate there recently and everything I ate was amazing, a truly good restaurant that’s just simple but incredible.
What does the future hold for you as a chef?
Right now it’s hard to tell. There are a lot of variables which I will dictate where it is that I end up down the track. For now I’m just going to try to learn as much as I can and try to enjoy life in the process.
Photography by Pidgin Restaurant/ Tom Harrison Photography