Home' Hospitality Business : HB NOV 2015 Contents Hospitality BUSINESS | November 2015 | 25
he much-awarded and applauded chef was in town for around
48 hours, and openly admits that he’s had a “bloody hectic
In the time he’s been in the kitchen he’s worked on around
ten new summer dishes with his team as well as some work with Lewis
Road Creamery, who he is developing a steak butter with. “I’ve been
doing a week’s work in two days,” he says with a sigh, “which definitely
reminds you that you’re alive!”
Connolly easily is one of Australia and New Zealand’s most well
respected and recognised chefs, with an unabashed passion for food that
began in his Grandma Esther’s kitchen in West Yorkshire.
Sean’s for mal career as a chef started when he took on a Chef ’s
Apprenticeship at The Pennine Hilton from the ages of thirteen
to sixteen, after which he completed his apprenticeship at var ious
restaurants throughout the United Kingdom.
He ar r ived in Australia in 1988 on a working holiday visa and
immediately decided not to leave. Working in var ious Sous Chef
roles at high-end hotels he was mentored by renowned chefs such as
Dietmar Sawyer and Liam Tomlin, and then in 1995 was offered the
role of Executive Chef of Astral restaurant at Star City Casino. It was
here that he led his team at Astral to ear n consecutive chefs hats from
2007 to 2011, winning accolades such as SMH Good Food Guide Chef
of the Year in 2008 and launching the casual restaurant ‘Sean’s Kitchen’
in the Star City Casino.
He left Star City Casino in 2010 to pursue inter national
opportunities and this led him to New Zealand, where in 2011 he,
together with SkyCity Auckland opened The Grill by Sean Connolly.
A year later he also opened The Mor r ison, a New York style restaurant
and oyster bar in the heart of the Sydney CBD, and spends his time
racking up the airpoints keeping an eye on both sides of the Tasman.
Developing the new menu he says he relishes the fact that New
Zealand still has what he calls “European seasons”, in that they are
definite and produce is only available at its best, for a finite time. “In
Australia they are talking about new season’s strawber r ies that are
coming out in the middle of winter because they are being flown in
from Queensland,” says the chef, “which can get a bit confusing for the
average diner.” He says he is proud of the fact that The Grill is always
seasonally driven as it keeps him and his team on their toes, and the
new menu is testament to all that summer offers at its best.The Chef ’s
Salad that he prepares for me is a r iot of baby radish, avocado, asparagus
and more, with jamon, manchego and red chilli chucked in for that
little taste of Spain. This is followed by a Chicken and Lobster Pie that
uses the smoothest Lobster Bisque as a base, and a profiterole dessert.
He fills the role of Celebrity Chef with aplomb, but admits that it
wasn’t one that always came naturally to him, “although it’s much nicer
doing PR and chatting to people than actually having to work in a
kitchen,” he says with tongue fir mly in cheek. He says that many years
ago he was the shy youngster hiding in the back of the kitchen, “and I
really had to push myself to move into the light”. He gives thanks to a
CEO that became his mentor dur ing his early days at The Star just over
ten years ago, “who had been told that they needed a celebrity chef
in the kitchen and said ‘we already have one, Sean’”. He encouraged
Connolly to come out of the kitchen and be proud of what he’d done,
and the rest as they say, is history.
He’s proud of what The Grill has achieved in just four years, but
admits that it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Despite this, there are still
many staff on board at The Grill that ar r ived dur ing the restaurant’s
opening months, “and you usually know quite early on that a lot of the
people you open a restaurant with are not going to be the ones you end
up with.You can tell the ones who will crumble in three months, but
It’s not often that you find yourself in The Grill on a Saturday for lunch (it’s shut, for starters), sipping on a Man O’ War Rosé
and sitting pretty in the ‘rockstar’ booth at the restaurant’s centre. I’m also having my lunch cooked by none other than The
Grill’s own head honcho, Chef Sean Connolly, in honour of both the restaurant’s fresh new summer menu and fourth birthday.
BY HELENE RAVLICH
Since opening four years ago, The Grill
has delivered/contributed to:
• Serving 34,848 portions of Duck Fat
Chips, made up of approximately 15.7
ton of Agria Potatoes.
• Consequently, about 8700 ducks
have given their lives to ensure the
fryers are full and their chips are at
the top of their game.
• 624 Suckling Pigs have been pulled
from the teat.
• 41,080 Eye fillets sold, easily their
most popular cut.
• Any one chef on the meat section will
turn out around 260 steaks per week.
• Two goats also lost their lives.
Chef Sean Connolly
in conversation, and on The Grill
New to the menu for summer,
Organic Chicken and Lobster Pie
Links Archive HB OCT 2015 HB DEC 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page