Inspired by our Origins - The Habitat Series - Volume 4
With our Cabin Fever event, ‘Many Lands’ approaching this Friday, we get to know Felix, senior Chef de partie, from our Kitchen Team. Felix grew up in Hamburg, Germany and this is his third year with the Voyager Team. We sat down with Felix and asked him a bit about his German heritage and his path to becoming a Chef.
“I grew up in a big family in northern Germany. Looking back my favourite food memories were at Christmas time, baking traditional ‘Plätzchen’ with my mum and siblings.” Asked how he became a Chef, Felix says: “I was about to finish high school and my plan was to study nutrition or become a teacher. But I did some work experience in a hotel kitchen and I loved it. After my apprenticeship in Germany I thought I’d travel and cook – and here I am five years later!”
Prior to joining Voyager, Felix worked in a number of high profile restaurants including a 2-Michelin star Restaurant and under Ben Shewry at Attica in Melbourne. We asked him what it was like working at Attica: “I learned more and more about native Australian ingredients (or bush food), and to this day, these are for me the most exciting elements I like to cook with.” Asked what brought him to Voyager Estate Felix says: “I wanted to work at Voyager because I really like the concept of pairing wine with food. Normally you create a dish and then pair it with wine. But (Head Chef) Santi gave us the challenge to showcase the wine.” On working with Santi, Felix explains: “I worked the most with German chefs and overall, they’re very organised, but some were not much fun to work with or were not as creative. With Santi you have a good mix of both. He’s a very genuine person who will do everything for their staff and customers. He is very fun to work with and we joke a lot. But he also very organised and likes to have a system. In my first week he said to me: ‘Felix, I’m more German than you think,’ and that’s true!”
A highlight of Felix’s career was winning the Best Young Talent in the 2019 Gault and Millau Australia Awards, representing Voyager Estate. We asked him what his favourite dish from the Discovery Menu has been. “A recent one… our current dish of marron, celeriac and macadamia. It was a real team effort – we tasted the Chardonnay with our Sommelier Claire, and we each added an element that made it into the final dish. We trialled it with Santi the next day and it’s been on the menu ever since.”
This Friday sees the Voyager Team come together to put on ‘Many Lands,’ our Cabin Fever event which promises to be a global feast, where each Voyager chef draws on their heritage and challenges one another to create the most incredible dish. We asked Felix a few final questions about what we can expect:
The ‘Many Lands’ idea came about from the diverse backgrounds of the chefs working at Voyager, what’s it like working with a diverse group like this?
“To work with different people from different countries really opens up your mind to different opinions and how people live their life. In New Zealand I worked with lots of Germans, but also a lot of Fijians and South Africans. I’d never really interacted with people from these countries before and it changed my perspective a lot.”
What can guests expect from the ‘Many Lands’ event?
“Out of eight chefs, only two are Australian, so we’ll have a culinary journey which will go through South America, Asia, Europe (including Germany of course!), and finish in Australia.”
What are the best traditional dishes from your home country?
“A lot of people would say German food is about bread, sauerkraut, sausages and beer – and that’s kind of true! But where I’m from in the north near the sea, we also have a lot of pickled vegetables, fish and preserves.”
Any hints on the dish you will cook for Cabin Fever?
“My idea is to cook my take on a traditional German dish called ‘Kohlrouladen.’ It’s minced beef and pork wrapped in cabbage and served with a type of gravy and potatoes. But I will give it a good twist to lift it up and give it a modern fine-dining touch.
Our Cabin Fever event is sold out, however you can go on the waiting list by visiting the Cabin Fever website: www.cabinfeverfest.com.au