Who knew there were so many different types of chefs? (Actually, anyone who’s ever worked in a kitchen, read Anthony Bourdain, or watched a series of MasterChef, is probably aware!) Along with Head Chef Josh, the sous chefs, the production chefs and the chef assistants, we have the prep chefs.
The prep chef team, led by Adam, do all the preparation for every dish being cooked that day. Whatever marinades, curry pastes, cake batter or chopped ingredients are needed for today’s recipes, Adam and Michael get them ready to be cooked.
In a great kitchen (and, of course, we like to think ours is!) everything is prepared in advance and laid out, so that when the pan’s hot and the oil is sizzling, no one’s still chopping onions!
How did you get into the food business?
Michael: I travelled through many countries when I was young – Europe, South East Asia, Japan, Sri Lanka. That definitely gave me a passion for learning about the ingredients and cooking methods of other cultures.
Also, my grandmother was a chef in country Victoria, so I think that’s where I inherited my passion for food. I’ve worked in all departments of the hospitality/catering industry and I really love working with top-quality ingredients.
Adam: I worked first at Qantas catering, supplying business and first-class meals.
What’s your job at Dinner Ladies?
Michael: My role as a prep chef means preparing top-quality fresh products for all the dishes we cook – and they’re from many different countries and cultures. What I love about cooking at Dinner Ladies is we try to use as little out of the tin as possible – pretty much all the ingredients are fresh and made from scratch and I think that really shows in the quality of the final meals.
I love the wide variety of dinners we make. The day is never boring!
Adam: We do all the preparation for the recipes, including mixing dressings and marinades, mixing cake batter, roasting vegies and preparing huge batches of ingredients. The food team write the recipes, and we’re given paper print-outs of recipes to follow each day.
What’s your favourite DL dish to work on?
Michael: It’s hard to pick a favourite but I love making curry pastes and marinades from scratch. A big favourite to prep is our Thai red curry of beef with bamboo shoots and lime leaves.
Adam: Porchetta, corn fritters, lamb rogan josh are my favourites – to prep, and eat!
What do you cook at home? Do you have a signature dish?
Michael: I enjoy cooking and I’m always learning to try to be better! I find learning new techniques and using new ingredients very interesting.
Adam: My favourite dish in the world is sashimi of kingfish with sesame ponzu dressing. Rather specific, but nothing beats it!
Any kitchen disasters?
Michael: Luckily not too many! One springs to mind… in the early days, I forgot to put the yeast in the bread dough once and so it didn’t rise!