Chef of the Week: Simon Moss of Grosvenor Hotel
Meet Simon Moss, the Head Chef at Melbourne’s Grosvenor Hotel. We sat down with Simon to talk about his career and work at the Grosvenor Hotel, his signature dish, Melbourne’s restaurant scene and advice for aspiring chefs.
What inspired you to become a Chef?
I wouldn’t call it inspiration, more like desperation. I found school quite uninspiring, so I came out of school wondering what to do with myself. I went to the unemployment agency and was offered different 3 jobs and one of them was kitchen hand.
The government was starting up a pilot cooking course and I received a letter asking if I wanted to apply. I took a chance and went for it. Thankfully it paid off!
Where did you train to cook? Do you recommend a formal training for someone who wants to become a chef (i.e. culinary school)?
I trained at a small, independent cooking college in Auckland, NZ. Whilst I didn’t always enjoy a learning environment, I loved the practical side of things.
Nowadays it is imperative for people to have cooking certificates, so I would definitely recommend pursuing it. On the flip side, a piece of paper doesn’t necessarily translate into a passion for your chosen field and in some cases on the job training is far more worthwhile than learning in a classroom. It all depends on the individual.
Tell us a bit about Grosvenor Hotel. Which cuisine do you specialize in?
The Grosvenor Hotel is a neighborhood gastro pub in Melbourne, Australia that has been trading since the 1800’s, and continues to hold a strong presence in the culinary scene in Melbourne. Our cuisine would be considered modern European featuring wood-fired pizzas, classic parmas and burgers and also more refined bistro dishes with an Italian/French influence.
Do you have a signature dish or a favorite dish that you enjoy cooking?
My current favorite dish would have to be our wood-roasted half chicken served with spring vegetables such as globe artichokes, broad beans and baby fennel. Roasting juices and a gruyere béchamel tie the dish together.
Do you follow food trends? If so, what influence have food trends on your menu?
Being a pub, we need to cater to a wide variety of people and so following food trends to a certain degree is important to stay current, but it’s not our main focus. If there is a current food trend we maybe touching on in our current menu it would have to be utilizing our wood fired oven for more than just pizzas. Cooking with fire has been trending for a couple of years now and continues to be popular.
How do you stay relevant in the very competitive Melbourne restaurant scene?
Neighborhood pubs will never go out of fashion.
I don’t think neighborhood pubs will ever go out of fashion, yet to stay relevant we need to keep re-energizing and refreshing what we offer. Having a strong online presence helps too as social’s are a very quick and effective way to show people what you are up to. A coat of paint never hurts either.
Do you regularly read cookbooks? Any new cookbook you would recommend?
Unfortunately, I am quite time poor so I do not have the luxury of buying and reading many cookbooks as much as I used to. If I was to purchase a book today it would have to be the Whole Fish Cookbook by Josh Niland from Sydney. A chef creating some amazing dishes with all thing’s seafood.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a top chef?
Have a solid understanding of the basics. Develop your palate by tasting everything you can. Don’t get caught up in all the hyped-up cooking shows on TV.
Where do I start? Work hard. You will get out what you put into a career in the hospitality industry. Be a sponge. Have a solid understanding of the basics. Develop your palate by tasting everything you can. Don’t get caught up in all the hyped-up cooking shows on TV.
It’s not a glamorous life yet it can be very rewarding if you’re patient and pursue your passion.