Meet Cathlyn Chow, our new Head Chef at Q Events.
Before Cath was a chef, she studied Business IT and got a job in that field for a few years. However, she quickly felt dissatisfied with her role and the work she was doing and found that the only thing getting her through the workday was knowing she could go home and experiment in the kitchen.
After a long debate with herself, she worked up the courage and strength to take one of the biggest risks in her life and quit her Business IT job to pursue her love for cooking. Cath went straight back to study, determined to make her passion of cooking into her full-time job. She studied cookery for one year and worked her way through various cafes and restaurants to get to where she is now. She has now been a chef for 15 years and counting!
We spoke to Cath about her experience as a Chef, her role and responsibilities at Q Events and what she does to unwind on her days off and what her favourite dishes to cook are.
What’s your role and how long have you been at Q Events?
Cath: Before working at Q Events, I worked at our sister venue Metropolis Events in the kitchen assisting with photoshoots and menu tastings so I know the team and both the venues very well. But going further back, I worked with Lana Cargill (the current Executive Chef at Metropolis & Q Events) at Showtime Events. She was a great mentor to me as a Sous Chef and when she resigned and moved to Metropolis, I took her place as Head Chef. It’s a privilege to be working closely with her again.
Who or what inspired you to become a chef?
Cath: It’s not so much who inspired me, but rather I found my passion for cooking. I found myself going home from my Business IT job and found myself in the kitchen every night cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.
Ultimately being in the kitchen makes me happy and I get a lot of satisfaction when people enjoy my food. They don’t necessarily have to compliment my food but when I sneak a look at people eating my food you can tell by their faces that they enjoy it!
What would you eat for your last meal?
Cath: Great question! I love spicy food, so anything that would be really spicy! Maybe a fresh fish with a really spicy dressing.
I wouldn’t have to worry about the stomach issues the next day!
Who’s a celebrity you would love to cook for?
Cath: At one of my previous jobs where I was a Chef, I cooked for two celebrities, Gina Rinehart and Ricky Martin! They never tell you that they are celebrities though, you only get a kitchen slip with VIP written on it. It wasn’t until after they ate my food that I found out who they were!
What does the role of the head chef entail?
Cath: The daily running of the kitchen!
A quick summary of the jobs I do include;
- Ordering stock and ingredients from suppliers
- Managing and training junior staff
- Maintaining the hygiene and safety standards in the kitchen
- Coming up with new menu ideas whenever possible
- Managing prep days and delegating jobs to staff, motivating and pushing them to increase productivity
- Monitoring the quality of prep done, making sure it’s of standards and adhering to standard recipes
What is the process of plating up?
Cath: Plating up is the art of serving the dish, it is the final presentation!
When all the food’s prepped and cooked, plating lines are set up in the order as to which element goes onto the dish first. Each kitchen staff member is allocated a food element to carefully place onto the plate, as precise and cleanly possible. Once the person plates their element, the plate is passed down the line and each chef do the task given to them. Usually, the most senior staff finishes off at the end of the line before the plate goes out, making sure everything is consistently plated to the company standards.
How many work in the kitchen when there is an event?
Cath: It depends on how big the event is and the type of event (cocktail, sitdown or choice of menu). There is probably an average of 6 – 8 chefs working during an event.
How long does it take to prep for an event?
Cath: Again, depends on how many events are on that week. If there are multiple events, usually the kitchen staff rostered on are delegated different prep jobs that may span over a couple of events. It’s a good two-day prep for a plated function as certain things can only be done on the day itself.
Favourite dish to make?
Cath: I love to make Braised Octopus Legs! It’s also easy as you just throw it all in the oven for 2 hours with dried oregano, parsley, lemon and olive oil. Once it’s cooked to give it some extra flavour, I put it on my char-grilled barbeque.
I also love to make my own bread, in particular homemade greek flatbread with some rosemary & garlic.
Hobbies outside of work?
Cath: If I’ve had multiple events on that week, I like to do absolutely nothing but relax!
Otherwise, you can find me hiking the You Yangs with my Jack Russell, cycling or tending to my vegetable garden. I like to try and plant seasonal plants, at the moment I have corn & kale. I also have a ginger plant that I planted 2 years ago, it died and has only just come back to life and started sprouting.
What country’s cuisine do you love the most and why?
Cath: Mediterranean food! I love the techniques involved in the food such as pickling and the spices they use.
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