Rising star and head chef of Hemingway’s Matt Dixon, tells us his story:
My first job in a kitchen was as a dishy, I was 14 years old and I absolutely loved it. There is a saying in this hospitality industry, which is “you learn your speed in the sink” – this was a really valuable lesson for me about how working hard and starting with the dirty jobs, can lead to something better if you put in the effort.
In this kitchen, I was keen to learn so I used to smash out the dishes in record time, so I could offer help to the chefs. They let me assist them with the prep and I loved it; every second. The heat. The rush. The noise of the kitchen, it’s non-stop, but that is what I loved and what I still love about being a Chef today. And when it all quiets down, you know it’s the end of your shift and you have done a good job. It’s very satisfying the whole service process, it was then and it still is now.
One of the Chefs I worked with back then, Corey, became a major influence in my career. He was the one who took me under his wing and saw the potential in me from a young age. He really pushed me as a young chef and like any young person I didn’t take criticism well, but looking back now years later and I am really glad he was hard on me, as it made me grow into a better chef and challenge myself more.
Another great aspect of my first hospitality job was all the chefs were from different countries so there was a real feel of multiculturalism in the kitchen. They all had their favourite cuisine and influences from their own countries which I found really interesting. Over time they hired another dishy and put me on prep and that cemented the passion I had to work in the kitchen. I completed my apprenticeship at Tafe in Adelaide and then moved to Airlie Beach to make a positive lifestyle change.
One of the main reasons that I wanted to be a chef is because there is always someone in need of a chef. As a chef, you can get a job anywhere in the world if you work hard and are skillful. The other advantage of being a chef whilst travelling is experiencing different food cultures, gaining food knowledge and learning about different techniques and ingredients, which you may not otherwise have access to.