Meet the team: Interview with Pollen’s Head Chef, Simon

They say - behind every great dish is a great chef. It will come as no surprise then that Pollen’s Head Chef, Simon, has a talent for not only for cooking up a storm, but also for making people smile with his friendly and encouraging nature... and occasional wicked sense of humour. We sat down with Simon to get an insight into the person behind Pollen’s great dishes.

Where did you learn to cook?

In Sydney at TAFE for three years. Before that I was in Canberra so I came back to work here after TAFE.

What were you doing before you decided to become a chef?

I was studying Interior Design at university. After I finished the degree I decided I didn’t want to work in that field so I pursued something I really wanted to do, and that was cooking.

What is your favourite dish, either to cook or eat?

An Asian steamed chicken dish with ginger and shallots. Simple. It’s nice, tender and best served with rice.

Tell us about the first time you set foot in a professional kitchen.

The first time... that was learning how to make a burger patty. People normally take an hour where as I took four hours! The chef asked me what I did that took me so long and I said I tried my best. From that time forward I just got faster and faster.

If you had one chance to impress your culinary heroes, whoever they may be, what would you cook?

My Asian steamed chicken dish! I’d show them how good it is.

What are your top five pantry staples?

1. Soy sauce

2. Fish sauce

3. Sugar

4. Salt

5. Pepper

What words of encouragement and advice do you have for home chefs?

Keep cooking and don’t stop trying, it doesn’t matter if you fail!

And lastly, what dish on the menu can't you live without?

The burger!

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Pollen is located at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, Australia

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