Laurieton chef Michael Lewis discusses new role as executive pastry chef overseas and what Hastings dining needs

CHEF SUPREME: International chef Michael Lewis.
CHEF SUPREME: International chef Michael Lewis.

International chef Michael Lewis has put his travel plans on hold and remains in his home town Laurieton amid tighter coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Lewis has accrued 12 years in the fine dining industry but originally attended Laurieton Public School and Camden Haven High School before training at the Intercontinental Hotel School Sydney.

He has most recently worked as a chef at La Madernassa in Italy, as a general manager and head chef with The Locksmith Restaurant in Guangdong, China and as a general manager at Tin Hill Social in Singapore.

"I've done about six years in Singapore and then one year in China and was now in Italy for about 18 months," Mr Lewis said.

"We left on February 24 and the day that we left the Milan airport was extremely quiet but it was just before those massive spikes in coronavirus numbers which happened in that area. Already you could notice there was quite a lot of unrest in that area.

"We were supposed to depart from Australia on March 18 this year but all our flights have been obviously been cancelled because they do go into Milan.

"So at this stage we're just checking on those updates of when we can actually fly. I think it will be at least a month minimum."

OVERSEAS DESTINATION: Michael Lewis has accepted a executive pastry chef role with three star Michelin restaurant, Régis et Jacques Marcon, in Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid.

OVERSEAS DESTINATION: Michael Lewis has accepted a executive pastry chef role with three star Michelin restaurant, Régis et Jacques Marcon, in Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid.

Mr Lewis has a deadline to meet in France after accepting a pastry chef role with three star Michelin restaurant, Régis et Jacques Marcon, in Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid.

"While I'm in Europe I want to see as much as possible and they had an opening for the executive pastry chef role. I've accepted that but now it's just the waiting game until they're allowed to actually open," he said.

"It's a three Michelin star place so no matter what position you end up with there I'd consider it a step up. Definitely an investment in my future career.

"My passion is definitely still in the savory side of kitchen, but for many head chefs when it comes to pastry it's just an extreme weakness for them. I think specialising in pastry is only a bonus for a chef overall."

WILD HERBS AND FLOWERS: International chef Michael Lewis recommends Hastings restaurants make best use of naturally available produce. (Cremoso di Bunet prepared by Michael Lewis in Laurieton)

WILD HERBS AND FLOWERS: International chef Michael Lewis recommends Hastings restaurants make best use of naturally available produce. (Cremoso di Bunet prepared by Michael Lewis in Laurieton)

Restaurants in the Hastings need to think about buying more local produce and looking for locally sourced food from aquaculture farming, said Mr Lewis.

"I think there's definitely more progressive restaurants here now than what there was 10 to 15 years ago and that will only improve with time," he said.

"I would personally love to see more focus on local produce or even local sort of foods that grow wild here. There's a lot of local herbs and native flowers which are actually edible.

"I'd love to see this sort of local farming, foraging and even aquaculture or something developed within the area. I think it would be good for the local economy."

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