“I didn’t realize where my passion for food came from originally. I’m the oldest of nine kids and with no father, I tried to help my mother. I decided to leave school. She found out and said I was going back to school or I was going to do an apprenticeship.
My mom was the passion. I was very, very lucky to work in a five-star hotel and start my apprenticeship in a kitchen at the age of 15. There was a lot of diversity; from Yugoslavia to Greece – about 30 different nationalities. To have something like that in 1966, to work in a kitchen was unheard of in Australia. I got to know their culture and their culture revolved around food.
To be exposed to this at 15 was wowsville!
Cooking is so creative and you start to build the flavors. It’s like building a house. You put the brick and mortar down and then you build and build. At the end, you’ve got something great. I love opening a fridge door or going to a market and finding a beet that looks amazing and it hits me that I have to create something special with beets. I get excited to create something new.
I’m near the end of my career, I’ve finally found a company that is dynamic, forward thinking and really looks out for its employees.
Whatever you have, give it back. If people ask me for a recipe, I just give it to them. You go online and find a recipe, but often something is missing, like oregano. That’s the difference between a gold-medal meal and you having a great meal at home.
Give back and never, ever, ever forget where you come from. Always honor and learn from the past and make sure to pass on your knowledge.”
— Chef Peter Hodgson, campus executive chef for Chartwells Dining Services, CEC, AAC