Australia loves champions, especially those who start from humble beginnings to achieve great things in their chosen career. Commercial Cooking is one of these sectors, with countless Australian chefs plying their trade in some of the best restaurants across the country and globe, doing what they are passionate about every day.
In this article, we'll showcase four of these chefs, highlighting their cooking career achievements and how they got to this position in their career. Who knows, you could find yourself on this list in the future!
Matt Moran – Tamworth, NSW
Matt Moran is a common sight on Australian screens, appearing on many primetime shows including Masterchef, My Restaurant Rules and The Great Australian Bake Off. Matt's supreme work ethic and business head have helped him expand his career from chef to restaurateur and also television personality and judge.
Moran grew up in Tamworth before moving to Sydney where he was an apprentice at La Belle Helene Restaurant on Sydney's North Shore. It was here that Matt learned the basics of classical French cooking, the fundamental skills that are still part of his repertoire. Matt had caught the cooking bug and this passion drove him to open his first restaurant at the age of just 22 – The Paddington Inn Bistro. By 1999, Matt had three restaurants, including the two-hat ARIA restaurant in Sydney.
Fast forward nearly two decades and Matt has a total of 10 restaurant businesses and has won a plethora of awards including GQ Chef of the Year in 2012 and GQ Food Force of the Year in 2014. Matt also keeps a close eye of society as a whole, working with OzHarvest, a charity that collects food wastage to deliver to vulnerable people – it's an organisation that Kenvale College is also involved in. Kenvale College students also work in Matt's Solatel establishments, building their knowledge base and skills in real-world kitchens.
Peter Gilmore – Sydney, NSW
Peter Gilmore's reputation extends much further than Australian shores. The born and bred Sydneysider started his first apprenticeship at 16 before working in a number of restaurants across the region. However Peter also explored overseas restaurants – learning different skills and building his knowledge of the culinary world. Upon returning to Australia, Peter became head chef at Quay, the launching pad for his successful career.
Quay is one of the most decorated restaurants in Australia, collecting numerous awards since Peter first took over in the kitchen. Quay has been awarded three Chef Hats 14 straight years and been the SMH Restaurant of the Year five times. In fact, Quay also emerged as a world leader, placing five times on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list over recent years.
Peter is a major supporter of produce to plate cooking, showcasing locally grown ingredients cooked in simple ways. To help everyday cooks, he launched The Peter Gilmore App in 2014. The app uses eight handpicked dishes illustrating the steps from the garden to the finished product. For Peter, cooking is something inspirational – a mantra that every Kenvale College student can take along their own cooking journey.
Teage Ezard – Melbourne, Victoria
— teage ezard (@teageezard) June 16, 2016
Under the tutelage of Hermann Schneider at Two Faces, Teage began his culinary apprenticeship at age 17. Having mastered the basics of the culinary arts, he moved on to the head chef position at Guernica. This provided the inspiration to set up his own restaurant in 1999, ezard, which quickly found success. The blend of Asian and contemporary dishes saw the restaurant receive two Chef Hats and Teague awarded The Age Good Food Guide Chef of the Year in 2003.
Alongside ezard, Teage has also launched Gingerboy in Melbourne and BLACK by ezard in Sydney as his career continues to soar.
Kylie Kwong – Epping, NSW
Kylie Kwong is one of Australia's leading female chefs and has crafted an impressive career based on her family's culture and approach to cooking. Kylie is a third-generation Chinese Australian and was taught the basics of Cantonese cooking at a young age. The principles of simplicity, fresh ingredients and clean flavours are the keys to Kylie's style of cooking and a mantra that has made her a well respected member of the Australian chef community.
Learning under Neil Perry at Rockpool and Wokpool, Kylie learnt the basics of professional cooking before opening her own restaurant, Billy Kwong, in 2000.
This establishment won the inaugural Sustainability Award in 2009 from the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide as a tribute to its focus on environmental causes. Although running a restaurant is about profits, looking after society is also an important consideration.