Where did your love of cooking begin – can you pinpoint an incident or moment when you knew this would be your future?
When I was only five, I remember sneaking out of the house to go to Art Lesage’s grocer/butcher shop, which was just down the street. I would spend the afternoon sitting on the butcher’s table, fascinated as I watched him make and smoke Polish sausage from scratch.
I believe for Christmas that year, I wrote a note in my baby book asking for a stove, pots and pans. My wish was fulfilled that Christmas and from then on, I was constantly cooking up something, even if it was just mud pies.
What is the highlight of your career so far and why?
The highlight of my career is knowing that I continue to be a positive influence on so many young and aspiring chefs.
It is indeed extremely rewarding and a truly amazing feeling watching these young talents, who have drawn from my influence, go on to become successful chefs.
What drives your passion for food?
My hunger for culinary discovery, my passion to provide my guests with new dining experiences and my desire to continue growing as a chef and mentor.
Tell us about your style. How has it evolved since you started?
I would describe my culinary style as pure and simple yet adventurous.
I believe that my style was defined very early on in my career but has only become more refined as I accumulate greater experience and progress as a chef.
What is the most exotic thing you have ever cooked with or tasted?
The most exotic dish I have ever tasted was introduced to me by some Japanese friends at a very high-end Michelin starred, sushi restaurant in Tokyo.
The dish was Shirako, which was prepared using the sperm sac of Cod fish. Thankfully, it was really good and had a sweet buttery taste and texture.
I would definitely try the dish again!
What inspires you?
Anything and everything!
I can easily draw inspiration from nature, music, a book, a magazine article, a movie, a television show, architecture and sometimes, even my dreams.
What is the one implement in the kitchen you cannot do without?
I would definitely be lost without my chef’s knife. It is such an integral part of my preparation processes and definitely an extension of my hands (and me).
What in your opinion is the most underrated ingredient?
Butter! Unfortunately, consumers have become so afraid of the ingredient as they are constantly urged to reduce or even eliminate butter from their meals.
Let’s be honest - What dish doesn’t taste better with a nice bit of farm fresh butter.
What do you cook at home?
As I work most nights, I place great emphasis on preparing a good breakfast and after my morning sessions at the gym, I need a high protein meal with good carbohydrates.
I love omelettes and these are always best with local ingredients like seasonal vegetables and a little cheddar cheese. I also like preparing steel-cut oats with some seasonal fruit, nuts and seeds.
On the rare occasion when I am able to cook dinner at home, I really enjoy making a risotto, which is one of my favourite dishes.
What do you think about social media as a promotional tool?
If used correctly, I believe any platform can be a great tool for information sharing and social media is certainly one of the most influential platforms, as it continues to gain massive audiences very rapidly.
As a chef, these platforms provide us with a great opportunity to engage with the industry by sharing our mutual passion, experiences and offer valuable advice to novices and gather insights from other professional chefs.
People are very visual by nature and social media is an excellent vehicle to bring experiences to life.
A great example for me personally, was the level of engagement witnessed on the Conrad Pezula social media platforms, during and post my participation at this year’s Good Food & Wine show.
How do you view food bloggers?
Most food bloggers are not generally directly involved with the industry but are really passionate foodies, which makes it great to hear their opinions.
Some are really good at drawing you into their experiences with their descriptive writing and the magic of Instagram, which brings everything to life.
If you could have anyone cook for you – who would it be?
My mom! I really miss her cooking.
Although my mom is a very simple cook, you will not taste more love than in her pot of her chicken stew and dumplings.
Who would you like to sit down for dinner with – anyone in the world?
Undoubtedly, my six best food friends (tjommies) - Monet, Ferdi, Carla, Alje, Inge and Wener!
We have the best time together and every experience is always memorable.
What would be your top foodie destination?
For their absolute precision and discipline in food, there is no place like Japan.
For their absolute passion and love for food, Italy is second to none.
Your top recipe book of the moment?
It has to be Faviken, a book by Chef Magnus Nilsson named after his restaurant, which is located in an isolated part of Sweden.
I am continually inspired by Chef Nilssons purity. His understanding of nature and its relationship with food is incredible.
Your best foodie memory?
Definitely my dinner experience a couple of years ago at II Ghittone, a small restaurant in Kyoto, Japan.
This restaurant cooks with the ingredients from their region but does so with an Italian sensibility and technique. I tried the tasting menu which introduced me to one amazing dish after another.
When I got to the main course of roast pigeon with ovoli mushrooms, shaved chestnuts, wild forest greens, potato puree and a pigeon stock reduction I had to put my fork and knife down and breathe; I was shaking.
I was feeling absolutely emotional about the manner in which these chefs prepared their meals; it had all the precision of Japanese cooking with the love and passion of Italy in every bite.
It was mind blowing!
Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food International, for his work in bringing a bigger and better awareness to the important role of food and farming in the development of a culture.
His work in bridging the world’s farming and food production communities by creating a process of communication, has led to a better understanding that growing food is everyone’s responsibility.
Organisations who try to homogenise the process of farming and food production in the name of science; they often have no understanding of the consequence it has on destroying food cultures and the long term effects on the environment and consumer’s health.
Geoffrey Murray is the Executive Chef at the Conrad Pezula Resort & Spa.
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