Andrew Hunt, Executive Chef
Like any great artist, Andrew Hunt’s food is shaped by the materials, techniques and experience he has gained along the way. Not only has Andrew worked with some superstars in the kitchen, his culinary journey has seen him serving many of them! Pasta Alfredo from scratch was on the menu for Prince and his entourage, as well as preparing a traditional beef wellington for the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister Paul Keating and 200 political figures.
His favourite childhood memory that cemented his approach to cooking was when he was only five years old. “I was learning how to make ‘piragi’ with my Latvian grandmother in her kitchen. The sour cream-based yeast dough can be tricky to work with. I remember concentrating so hard to get the crescent shape just right and handling the dough with tentative frustration. She let me attempt a few more with little success. She then stopped me, fluently demonstrated the technique again and commented: ‘Andrew, don’t be afraid of the food’.” These words have been burnt into Andrew’s memory and have formed his approach to cooking. ‘Gain an understanding of the ingredient and work with it with confidence!’
Armed with this advice, Andrew cut his teeth working with a plethora of the country’s most exciting chefs, who took the time to nurture his talent. Their influences taught him a variety of techniques including how to butcher a whole lamb, properly clean an artichoke and to respectfully cook fish as well learning many of their secrets, which he holds very close to his chest. Moving up the ranks, Andrew’s first Head Chef role was at Melbourne venue Trunk, which he says was a crash course in applying what he’d learnt along the way about kitchen management, menu development and cost control. It is this knowledge that helped him on his culinary journey into the world of catering.
Having been immersed in the tender process and mobilisation of RA’s culinary operations at Melbourne Museum in the capacity of Head Chef, Andrew is quick to share that it is this experience that has elevated his understanding of contract catering. With this appreciation and his past restaurant experience, he can rise to the challenges and push the envelope to impress guests at the NGV.
He now sees mentoring as his time to nurture his team and bring out the best in them by giving them ownership of their duties and letting them develop the skills and confidence to flourish.