For some people, deciding on a career path is daunting and confusing, but Paul Tyas knew he wanted to become a chef from as young as four years old.
While his parents thought it was a hobby he would grow out of, Paul was set on a culinary career and left school at just 15 years old to take on an apprenticeship.
Moving to Europe to prove his worth, Paul has been tested by some of England and France’s most acclaimed chefs and is now back in Melbourne making his mark with the Grosvenor, recently awarded ‘People’s Choice Pub’ in the 2016 Time Out Pub Awards.
You started your cooking apprenticeship at Walters Wine Bar at only 15! How did you know you wanted to be a chef at this age?
It all stems back to the first day of primary school. The first book I checked out from the library was Michael Salmon’s Monsters Cook book. I got home, made pancakes with my mum and I was hooked.
What made you move to England to pursue cooking? What new techniques did you learn over there?
It was instilled in me that all good cooks should cut their teeth over in England. As far as skills I learnt: hard work, and I also learnt about restraint when cooking.
You also worked in France, what do you love so much about French cooking?
I love that food is a past-time – no TVs, just conversation, good food and enjoying a drink through the process of preparing and serving it. It’s amazing just how much food is embedded in the day to day.
Which restaurant has been your favourite to work in? Why?
Grosvenor Hotel, I’m very proud of what we have achieved by reintroducing the Aussie local. Not a scotch egg or HP sauce bottle in sight.
You worked as sous chef under Peter Reffel at Bleeding Heart (in London), Scott Pickett at The Point Albert Park, and alongside Jacques Reymond and George Calombaris, who has been your most influential mentor?
All of them. I still chat to all of them often. I hold a very special place for Paul Raynor, who is currently Head Chef at the Middle Brighton Baths, as he was pivotal in teaching me to be comfortable with who I am and challenging myself out of the kitchen too.
You started in a pub and now you’re back at a pub, is this where you feel most comfortable cooking?
I’m more than happy to cook anywhere as long as it’s using great produce, and is enjoyed by who I am cooking for – our guests.
Words by Beth Yeoman