Our Gourmet Chefs

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The Food Dude proudly presents… Our – Our Culinary Icons,

Taking centre stage right here in our own St Kilda area! This new regular segment profiles St Kilda’s premier Chefs who are contributing to our area’s emerging vibrant food culture!

 

Chef Profile No. 2 – Mirka Bistro’s young Chef extraordinaire: Brad Bouhalis



At the tender age of 28, not many chefs could dream of accomplishing the accolades that Melbourne’s Brad Bouhalis has managed. Head chef at renowned Grossi restaurant, Mirka at Tolarno Hotel on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda, the young chef has a team of fledging chefs under him as he marks his fourth year in the establishment and has certainly made his mark as one of Guy’s guys.

Starting to cook at the young age of 14, Bouhalis (who is of Greek descent) admits his grandmother and her large backyard full of fresh produce was a driving force behind his passion for all things culinary; “I was always in the kitchen with her just preparing food or out the back eating fruit off the trees, so she was the one who really got me interested in food. When you have [a] Greek family they’re just always cooking and eating, that’s the culture”.

Having completed his apprenticeship under acclaimed chef Jake Ward at Mount Dandenong Hotel, Bouhalis went on to win the 2006 Victoria TAFE Apprentice of the Year (Regional) and the Chisholm Institute of TAFE’s Apprentice of the Year, which he attended and has nothing but high regard for his alma mater. “Most of the teachers have recognized industry experience so they’re able to help you out with finding jobs if you need to. They want the best out of the students in most schools. I do some work with William Angliss at the moment and they’re very supportive of their students”.

Bouhalis worked under the personal stewardship of famous Master Chef Guy Grossi at Grossi Florentino in Melbourne’s central business district before being chosen by Guy to move to Mirka, and it wasn’t long before the budding chef was asked to take the lead in Mirka’s kitchen.

The continental bistro is renowned for its polished menus that offer a variety of Italian, Greek, French and Spanish cuisines while paying homage to French artist Mirka Mora, whose works hang vibrantly on the walls. Bouhalis has since had an abundance of opportunities, working so closely to acclaimed restaurateur and chef Guy Grossi, the most significant being partaking in Good Day USA, a program broadcasted in America that aims to promote Australia and its cuisine, and  he has also been given the opportunity to collaborate with Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck.

With such great opportunities, it is undoubtedly important to have a good team to rely on which Bouhalis readily admits his luck: “We have things really good, we’ve had the same few guys here pretty much for the last two years”.

“The hardest thing about our industry is having enough good quality chefs come through. Sometimes it’s quite hard to find good quality chefs that you can trust and [that are] reliable as well. Usually most of the time we keep the same people for a long time and then we’re able to build a team and work together like that, rather than having people stay for two or three months and then having to rehire without ever properly grasping being able to work together as a team,” he says, “It’s been a great learning experience, not just working in a kitchen. When I started here I was just a commis chef, so working at Florentino’s and Mirka have built my experience and my skills,” Bouhalis admits humbly. Yet at only 28, the expertise and skill in the kitchen that he has shines dramatically through in the dishes he plates, and it is evident that the best is yet to come!

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