The missing ingredient

THERE are many more ingredients that go into making a great chef than just an ability to turn it on in the kitchen. A deep appreciation of a variety of produce and the ability to move with, or ahead of, new food trends are just two.

As in other industries, news of the latest happenings, products, suppliers and techniques in the food business comes from industry peers. Networking is vital.

But in an industry bound by split shifts, night work and weekend hours, the time to meet and greet with industry colleagues is severely limited.

In a sense, chefs are network-isolated by the demands of their kitchen. This is why some of Perth’s top chefs took the opportunity to join Meat and Livestock Australia and Gibson and Paterson’s newly launched chefs’ club, Vital Ingredients.

The organisers say this is the first club of its type for chefs in WA that aims to bring Perth’s leading chefs, upcoming talent, and industry members together to network and discover new produce.

The Plum Restaurant executive chef and co-owner Darryl Anglesey says he joined Vital Ingredients because of the opportunity to share ideas with respected members of the industry.

“It’s a great idea to catch up with other chefs, we don’t get to see them often,” he says.

“It’s a way to find out trends.”

Vital Ingredients’ first meeting was held recently at Oceanus Restaurant.

Oceanus head chef Andrew Mann says different member chefs host the club meetings at their restaurant. The chef prepares produce supplied by Meat and Livestock Australia and the chefs either sit down for a chat over dinner, or an organised speaker will discuss new trends, wines, restaurant news and other industry specific information.

“Chefs get to meet up, talk about the products, suss out the industry and communicate about food trends and suppliers,” Andrew says.

Vital Ingredients meets three times a year and Andrew says it also provides a great way for chefs to meet face-to-face with other chefs in the industry.

“If there is a group of about 30 people you might know about half. This means we get to meet more chefs and know more about who is in your industry,” he says.

Subiaco Hotel’s senior sous chef Brad Burton has signed up because he sees the merit in industry networking, but also as it presents a great opportunity to meet up and coming chefs.

“There are a certain number of people who have been cooking for several years in the industry. It’s refreshing to talk to the new guys. You get to sit down over a meal and have a chat about new suppliers, new ingredients, and sharing ideas,” Brad says.

The sharing of ideas will, perhaps, increase the knowledge and skills set of Perth’s leading chefs and stimulate new trends, new food ideas and new friendships.

A table fee of $35 is charged to cover service costs and food costs and chefs need to register from the club via invitation from MLA.

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