Tips & Advice
Q&A with Mike Gawlik, Former Executive Chef
When did your passion for cooking begin?
My love of cooking began when I was a small child, assisting my Italian grandmother in the preparation of various varieties of pasta, small baked products, and other delectable dishes.
I enjoyed watching how happy and excited others were when they ate her food, and I wanted to do the same with my own cooking. I always loved experiencing new cultures, flavours, and cuisines
What was your first kitchen experience like?
The very first time I set foot in a kitchen was a humbling experience. I quickly learned that working in a professional kitchen requires dedication, passion, and true enthusiasm for the industry. I recall spending long hours in the kitchen, the heat, and the haste to prepare each meal to order in the hopes that it would be dispatched from the pass. There was no greater feeling than observing a customer appreciate a meal you had specially prepared for them. Being organised and functioning as part of a team are critical to the success of any service you participate in.
What is your go-to dish to entertain?
My go-to dish to entertain is my textures of Pineapple, Ginger, Coconut and Lime.
The components of the dish include:
- Coconut Crumble
- Compressed Pineapple
- Whipped White Chocolate Ganache
- Ginger Microwave Sponge
- Ginger Gel
- Pineapple Sorbet
- Freeze Dried Pineapple & Coconut
- Liquid Nitrogen Coconut Snow
This dish is full of flavour, texture, and sensory components. It’s a talking point because of the visual of liquid nitrogen snow being added to the dish table side.
What’s a skill you believe all Chefs should have up their sleeve?
Learning diverse methods to use eggs in cooking is a talent that I feel all chefs should have under their sleeves. Eggs are an essential component of cooking and may be used for a variety of tasks such as binding, coating, glazing, emulsifying, clarifying, enriching, and aerating. They are a versatile ingredient that may be utilised in a variety of dishes, from savoury to sweet.
How do you think the pandemic positively impacted the industry?
I think the pandemic positively impacted the industry by encouraging a lot of business owners to expand their social media footprint. Prior to the pandemic, many businesses neglected to use social media to engage customers.
However, many of these businesses have now realised the benefits of keeping their social media accounts up to date, to have a direct relationship with their customers.
Additionally, during the pandemic people were supporting their local small businesses and this had a positive influence on the industry, ensuring that many businesses remained open. Many of those businesses would have closed permanently if it hadn’t been for the support of their community.
This prompted businesses to consider innovative and creative methods to attract customers and keep them coming back.
Customers are more understanding and forgiving of labour shortages, menu limits, and price increases because of the impacts of COVID.
How important would you say quality products are when you’re curating dishes?
It is essential to utilise high-quality, seasonal products from local suppliers while preparing dishes. The quality of the ingredients used to prepare meals in a restaurant may have a substantial influence on the flavour of the dish. When an ingredient’s quality is better, the amount of work required by the chef to enhance it is less.
What would be your advice to Chefs who are looking for better quality products but reluctant to change from they’re currently using?
In the kitchen, using items of higher quality can have a beneficial effect on the following aspects: consistency, flavour, texture, appearance, yield, and cost. This can lead to an operation in the kitchen that is both successful and efficient.
Increased employee confidence is another potential outcome of providing assurance of better-quality products. It is less likely that there will be errors or issues with the quality of the food, and there won’t be any needless waste as a result. Since chefs will take greater pride in the dishes they are creating, customers will feel more satisfied with the dishes they order.