26 May 2012

Meet Nick Sawle of Servery and Spoon.

Nick Sawle, Servery and Spoons new Executive Chef.
Meet Nick Sawle, Executive Chef @ Servery and Spoon, cafe, East Malvern.

"This industry has treated me well and I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some fantastic chefs and to work in some amazing restaurants... I have forged lifelong friendships and gained invaluable experiences..."

I wish I could say that I have been passionate about food, both cooking it and eating it ever since my mother started me on solids...  but that would be a lie.  Growing up as one of three boys, when we gathered around the kitchen table to eat, this was simply to re-fuel.  I didn’t attach any deep cultural experiences to the dinner table. We were typical boys that scoffed our food so we could be excused to run off outside.  

After high school I found myself with a one way ticket to London to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I worked at a school during the day and worked in a pub at night.  12 months passed me by.
I learn't that I didn’t want to be a teacher and I didn’t want to work behind a bar.  With those two possibilities eliminated, I jumped on a plane and made my way back to Australia.

"This is where my career in the 
kitchen began...  
I felt this instant sensation that I was in the right place"

I went to Uni for a few years chopping and changing between courses as nothing really set my world alight. But every student needs to make some cash and this is where my career in the kitchen began.
I stepped into my first kitchen team, washing dishes. I felt this instant sensation that I was in the right place, I was at home. I was in sensory overload - it was the noise, the movement, the comradery and, naturally, the food.  Exotic words like “mise-en-place” and “chiffonade” were flying around the kitchen between chefs, their own secret language. I was intrigued. I wanted in. 

It took a good four months of endless applications and a relocation to Perth before winning an apprenticeship. As soon as I was cooking full time I realised my persistence had paid off.  I am incredibly passionate about cooking and the produce that I work with, it’s my life and it’s well and truly in my blood.  

"I am incredibly passionate about cooking and the produce that I work with, it’s my life and it’s well and truly in my blood"

Cooking for people gives me great personal satisfaction that I couldn’t imagine achieving in any other career.  It’s instantaneous.  Despite the long hours and the dedication required, I completely understand why so many of us choose to dedicate our lives to food.  There’s no waiting for the completion of a 3, 6 or 12 month project to get a result.  If I poach a perfect egg for table 3, BOOM, they’re happy and I’m happy, it’s an incredible feeling.

Part way through 2008 I felt the need to be re-energised so I once again packed my bags and moved to London in search of inspiration.  I wound up working at a restaurant called Franklins in Dulwich, South London.  Tim (the head chef and owner) was the inaugural Head Chef at the famed St John Restaurant and his dedication to using the freshest produce available ensured I was in foodie heaven every day.  The menu changed daily - sometimes even hourly. 

There would be a knock on the back door and you would open it to find some supplier had pulled up with produce that had just been picked.  This was the ultimate; the freshest, highest quality, seasonal produce delivered daily to your door. 

Whilst working at Franklins I was offered a job with a London based brewer to oversee the menu development of 20 of their top end “gastro” pubs. In what sounds like the holy grail of chef jobs, I worked 9am-5pm weekdays only, writing and testing recipes.  It should have been a dream job but I found myself missing the part of cooking that I liked the best, feeding people. Two years on, I figured it was time to come back to Melbourne and get back in the kitchen.  

"Whilst I am passionate and dedicated 
I also believe that food should be fun so I don’t take myself too seriously"

On arriving back home I wanted to find a job cooking food that I wanted to cook without the structure and formality of restaurant or hotel dining.  A mutual friend mentioned the Servery and Spoon Executive Chef position to me and put me in touch with Elaine.  A few meetings later we’d really hit it off and I haven’t looked back since. I’m relishing the opportunity to create again and work with the freedom that a cafĂ© environment allows.

Whilst I am passionate and dedicated I also believe that food should be fun and so I don’t take myself too seriously.  When I’m pulling together a new menu my constant consideration is to put up dishes that I would be happy to pay for.  Dishes that are so delicious that you just can’t get enough. If it doesn’t meet this criteria.  It doesn’t go on the menu.  Simple.

Stay tuned to Espresso Tales as over the next weeks and months Nick will be sharing some of his fabulous dishes from Servery and Spoons new menu for readers to try at home!

Servery and Spoon
Cafe and Foodstore
137-139 Waverly Rd
Malvern East

See photos of Servery and Spoon here

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