“Constantly learning new things keeps my mind and overall mentality focused”, says Christian Abbott, when Life on the Pass kicked off today’s interview by asking why he loves being a chef.
It’s definitely a great example of having the “right stuff” for pursuing a career in professional cooking. Christian is currently Executive Chef at the Melbourne branch of the Australian Venue Co., which runs more than 150 restaurants, bars and unique leisure venues across Australia.
But like so many chefs who go on to chase their dreams, Christian began with that all-important ingredient, “love of cooking from a young age”. And an aspiring entrepreneur, to boot!
Surrounded by some of the worlds best chefs
The story starts when Christian was growing up in England, and was, in his own words,
“surrounded by some of the worlds best chefs, classically French trained, and working in some of the best restaurants in the UK”.
But a restless ambition to build his personal brand and portfolio – to be “constantly on the pulse” – saw Christian move to Australia.
Now here was a real chance for determination and spirit to find its natural arena – the Australian restaurant kitchen! According to Christian it was time to “take on the mammoth task of building an empire alongside some of the best chefs here”.
As many an experienced chef knows, it’s just the type of rugged spirit needed for those long shifts on the pass! Christian is keen to acknowledge his gratitude.
The Australian Venue Company has moulded me into a dynamic individual. I have grown in my career, and as a person, alongside cooking legends. They’re a great crew to work with!
Great food is driven by Sustainability
Christian has also developed a passionate belief in the crucial need for sustainability. At The Australian Venue Company he has seen for himself how “great food is driven by sustainability, fantastic produce and creativity”.
For Christian, “Sustainability is where it’s at. We need to protect future generations by using independent farmers, and the best product you can put to plate. Do this and the food will do the talking”.
Passion and belief are not only drivers in championing great causes, but also for the more everyday challenges, namely, coping with stress in a high-pressure kitchen environment.
Protective approach to guide our future chefs
Christian is adamant that individuals must be “nurtured to be the best and to keep the passion alive”. He points to “mismanagement” as a major cause of stress in the kitchen.
He very much sees his role as a senior in the industry, “to drive a humble and protective approach and guide our future chefs”.
Managing mental wellbeing in the kitchen is of course, always a factor to be reckoned with. But Christian is committed to ensuring “the harsh days of the kitchen ‘push’ are gone”.
Instead, at his venues, the philosophy “for a mentally healthy workplace” is to foster, “a good approach with all staff and promotion of healthy lifestyles. The treating of one another with respect no matter what your role”.
Time away from the pass with family, friends – and indulging favourite pastimes – is always a great way to reduce stress.
For Christian, his own personal downtime is never too far away from his passion for food and cooking!
I enjoy educating myself on what’s new and what’s coming next on Australia’s food scene”. Always striving in his ambitions, Christian admits he is, “constantly driven to be the best at all times.”
It’s no surprise that he also offers his go-getting approach as key advice to younger chefs starting out in the industry, “Keep pushing, keep the passion, stay humble and strive to be the best at all time” says Christian.
We are geared up to be better than ever
They are particularly important words right at this moment, in light of the disruption caused by Covid-19 to the hospitality industry.
Christian says he used his time to learn what needs to be done to bounce back, professionally, and offers a typically down to earth, forward thinking approach.
“Covid 19 was definitely a kick in the “coronas”. But we are geared up to be better than ever. We are now fighting fit, so, it’s onwards and upwards”.