Launching his illustrious career under Neil Perry at Rockpool in Sydney, Hamish has a career spanning an impressive suite of iconic venues and 5-Star hotel’s across Australia, London and New Zealand. From the prestigious Kensington Palace restaurant (“How Now Brown Cow)” to the Royal Botanic Gardens, as the Executive Chef at Crowne Plaza Christchurch to a secondment at InterContinental Wellington, as the Executive Chef at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley Resort to his latest role at Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove.
Tell us who you are and your current role
I am the Executive Chef of InterContinental Sanctuary Cove. My role oversees all food operations which include five kitchens supporting five outlets across banqueting, restaurants and room service operations.
Tell us a little bit about your industry history
I commenced my Chef Apprenticeship at the original Rockpool in Circular Quay working with and learning from the likes of Neil Perry, Kylie Kwong and Kahn Davis. From there I work for Damien Pignolet at Bistro Moncur and Bistro Deux, he owned Claudes and has headed many Sydney restaurants for over 40 years.
After that, I embarked on a ten-year stint in London. I worked for Kensington Palace and headed up a Riverside restaurant in Chiswick embracing myself among the quintessentially British cuisine with European influence.
I then returned to my native Sydney and took up the role of Head Chef for Trippas White Group exclusively looking after the catering and event operations at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
In 2012, my wife and I proudly opened our own restaurant ‘Watts on Crown’ in Surry Hills which was a modern Australian brasserie. The 60-seater restaurant was our passion for four years and still to this day has been my all-time favourite job.
After that chapter, I began my journey with InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, where I’ve had various culinary leadership roles at Crowne Plaza and InterContinental hotels in New Zealand and Australia.
Where did your love of food come from?
Definitely my father. My father was an outstanding cook. He was hugely passionate about food and bringing different cuisines to the dinner table every night. He even made his own wine.
What has stuck with you as being key to becoming a great Chef and running a great kitchen?
Be a good leader and lead by example. Especially when it comes to keeping your cool in stressful environments.
Recommendations for favourite place to eat in Australia?
Sydney Fish Markets – Can’t beat fresh Australian seafood!
How do you relax and unwind?
I love getting out of the city and being outdoors with nature. So camping trips and adventures by the water tend to be my happy place.
What’s the one cooking implement/device you could not live without?
A sharp knife
What’s your favourite food?
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced over the last couple of years?
Definitely the labour shortage. Covid has crippled the headcount of chefs in our industry and rostering is a constant challenge.
“However, it has taught me to operate differently as a leader. I always strive to support my team and ensure they feel respected and appreciated. I can’t operate without them, so I try to adjust my leadership style to better understand their motivations and what’s important to them”.