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Two minutes with Shaun Presland, Pacific

Published 15 January 2020

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This week we chat to Shaun Presland, executive chef of Pacific. He shares how he got his start cooking for the Australian army, why not to be afraid to make mistakes and who has been influential in his career.

When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality?

I’ve wanted to be a chef ever since I was a little kid. I was always cooking with my mum in the kitchen and loved the opportunity to play with fire and other dangerous things!

Where and how did you get your start?

I spent the first four years of my chef career cooking for the Australian Army. I joined the reserves to fund my way through university and ended up cooking for 300 troops out in the bush. 

Sum up your current work life in one sentence.

Exciting, busy and experimental.

Who has been really influential on your career and why?

Mr Hiroshi Miura. He was my first Kaiseki teacher in 1995, and he taught me all the Japanese classics for 5 years. He also allowed me entry into the close-knit Japanese chef community, and I still call him father to this day.

What’s next for you?

Finding a permanent location for Pacific.

What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out?

Make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to make lots of mistakes; it’s the best way to learn.

Where did you last have a great meal?

Brat. The restaurant has a really nice vibe, and the smoked cod roe on toast is magnificent.

Are there any openings you are looking forward to?

I’m a big fan of Mexican food and so I’m keen to try Kol when it opens this year.

Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (aside from London)?

I might be biased because I’m from there, but definitely Sydney! It’s a great city for Asian food and the chefs there are always on top of their game.

Who would you identify as a rising star?

Toby Burrowes – a fellow Aussie and the Head Chef over at Elystan Street. He’s a seriously talented guy, and it’s impressive to be Head Chef at such a young age. One to watch for sure.

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