Chef Paul Wilson needs no grand introduction... but we will provide him with one anyway! Today, Chef Wilson is simply one of Melbourne’s
iconic chefs and has been for the past 2 decades. He has been integrated and played an active role in lifting the food culture in Melbourne to where it is today. After all that lifting, we are still pleasantly surprised to hear he is still so quickly excites when talking about his most genuine love, food.
We have been lucky enough to work with Chef Wilson over the past month in preparation for our upcoming Pressed event. In anticipation of the event we sat down and asked our old mate a few questions about his culinary journey.
still excites when he
talks about food &his culinary journey to Australia
1. Can you tell us a little about your background? (What led you to the industry and some of your career highlights to date.)
I left school as early as possible at the age of 16 after part-time work with my Spanish neighbour who was the head chef of a Mayfair hotel called the Stafford, located in the heart of Saint James, Piccadilly.
The bright lights and glamour of London, coupled with outstanding hospitality experiences meant I was hooked after a brief apprenticeship, working in top hotels like the Ritz and the Dorchester. I settled into a Michelin starred kitchen, at the Oak Room, in Le Meridien Hotel, Piccadilly.
Albert Roux, Hanbury Manor - This is where I learned to cook refined French food.
Hungry for more I also decided I needed management experience as well as a culinary, challenge taking on the role of sous chef, at London’s busiest 'IT' restaurant, Quaglinos. We were serving 900 customers a day, with a Michelin red M... it was an unforgettable experience!
5 years later I became a renowned international chef after being awarded a Catey Acorn award, in recognition of being one of London’s youngest ever executive chefs, I was 25 at that time, in charge of London’s still most successful restaurant (Quaglinos).
After such an intense period of my career, I felt the need to travel and was offered an opportunity in Melbourne, setting up 3 venues within a forward-thinking retail concept called Georges.
Being a little ahead of its time, the store struggled to make an impact but our food venues did, and I was offered a role with the Park Hyatt looking after their flagship restaurant. The 5 star hotel food scene was quite competitive then, with many gifted chefs running their
After Georges failure I put my head down and just dedicate myself to cooking, typical crafted brasserie styled food with a heavy influence from the Mediterranean style with local produce - it was the most original food a hotel was serving and became an incredible success (earning
3 chefs hats and I won chef of the year) This led to many more restaurant openings’ and commercial success working with Australia’s most driven, creative restaurateur’s. This work resulted in my Epicure
professional excellence award, one of Australia’s highest hospitality professional awards.
From here, I've become a hospitality consultant and restaurateur.
Today my only focus is giving back to an industry that has afforded me so many wonderful experiences in my life.
2. What’s your favourite dish and why?
A perfectly roasted chicken, because it demonstrates your knowledge and attention to detail, whilst pleasing so many! It involves intricate technique’s to achieve an outstanding result , from the sourcing of a ethically farmed chicken to the delicate brine its marinated in, to the way you butcher, flavour and cook your roast. This, accompanied with seasonal vegetables, makes for one delicious, humble meal.
3. Where do you source your produce?
We are so lucky to have such an
amazing local seasonal produce over the years and its peaking right now!
90% of my produce is coming from small country Victoria's organic and biodynamic farms. It’s the best produce I’ve ever tasted!
4. What’s the most heard feedback from your customers?
I am full.
5. What’s your favourite kitchen tool?
I have a rather large chopping knife, ½ cleaver ½ Chinese carving knife,
Custom made in Hong Kong. It's 20 years old I use it every day for so many tasks.
6. What would you be doing, if you weren’t in the food business?
Travel I love travelling discovering new cultures.
7. What word(s) do you use to describe your favourite Mount Zero Olives product?
Every year I sincerely look forward to the new season of olive oil it's always beguiling and extraordinary!
8. We are creating a Foodie’s bucket list – please add your favourite place to eat out – somewhere everyone MUST GO!
The food markets of Mexico City & Lima Peru are a spectacle, where you can sample flavours that you will never forget across the most diverse array of ingredients in the world.
9. Do you have a favourite “foodie” moment from art, film; or novel or poem – or perhaps a wonderful moment in your own life you’d like to share?
A Foodie moment in a movie I like is the scene from Chef; where Chef cooks he makes Spaghetti Aglio for his girlfriend. My own favourite experience is having many meals with Anthony Bourdain, the most unusual was in NYC, in an illegal Japanese restaurant serving chicken carpaccio.
10. Do you have special plans or dream projects planned for the year ahead?
I am looking forward to visiting my family in the UK, Visiting London markets and hot restaurants.