Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Natty Nathan

Published: 23rd March 2011

New to Cairns is Nathan Thompson, Executive Chef of the Cairns Hilton. Coming from South Australia you know straight away that he is going to be interested in regional food. No other state celebrates its culinary culture better than South Australia, and Nathan learned his skills from the best.

Nathan started his apprenticeship at the Hotel School at Regency TAFE. He graduated with a Level 3 Certificate in Cookery, Advanced Patisserie, Chinese Cookery and Bakery. He learned traditional methods from a third generation German patissier; many of these skills have been passed-by in today’s kitchen training.

In 1999 Nathan commenced at the Adelaide Hilton in the same year that the hotel’s Grange Restaurant head chef; the great Cheong Liew received his Medal for Order of Australia (OAM). This medal was awarded for distinguished recognition for “service to the food and restaurant industry through involvement in developing and influencing the style of contemporary Australian cuisine". Cheong Liew taught Nathan about creativity and flavours. After rotating through all areas of this large kitchen under the tutelage of Executive Chef Bethany Finn he learned about process.

“Cooking is about Method, Process & Flavour. If you have good methods and process; you will get the flavour right” says Nathan.

What Simon Bryant taught Nathan was that chefs can’t just stay in the kitchen these days. Simon, who was Executive Chef at the Adelaide Hilton, became well known through ‘The Cook and the Chef’ television program with Maggie Beer. Simon understood that customers in the restaurant want to meet the chef and as Sous Chef Nathan learnt the importance of customer – food - relationship.

During his 11 years at Hilton Adelaide, Nathan was a champion of fresh and ethical foods, supporting the RSPCA’s Choose Wisely campaign to promote free range eggs, and upholding the trademarked Seriously South Australian®, maximising the use of local produce within the hotel. Nathan was also called on by the South Australian Government, to assist with the development of the food chain on Kangaroo Island; working with restaurants and producers, where getting the locals involved was essential to its success.

With qualifications in cookery, advanced patisserie, Chinese cookery and bakery, Nathan recently transferred to the Cairns Hilton and is now seeking out local tropical foods for his new menus.

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