April 09, 2018

Welcome on board chef matt

Pullman Cairns International are thrilled to welcome on board Chef Matt Donnellan and his expertise in the kitchen, Matt's diverse background and international experience will be bringing fresh flavours, innovation and new creative cuisine concepts from outside the region. Take 5 and get to know Matt a little better...


Where did you grow up? Sydney’s northern beaches

When did you know you wanted to be a chef? From the age of 17 I started my first job in a kitchen and I knew from the very first day that this is where my passion was and was hooked to the excitement of the industry

What is your favourite food memory? There is too many to mention as a favourite but discovering and tasting new foods is always a special treat especially from regions that I am visiting for the first time.

Where were you trained, and how difficult was your training? I was trained in Sydney at the “Sydney Boulevard Hotel” in the early 90s. The expectations were very high and demanding with a very good mix of chefs who all had their strengths in different areas from fine dining to butchery, master pastry chefs and a very large banquet operation. Working in this environment was extremely good to be involved in as the training had no limits on what you could take from this. Life was very hard through these years but the rewards were definitely there and are still there to this day.

What do you like to eat when you’re at home? Nothing beats a home cooked meal from my wife and with her Irish, Australian heritage I always look forward to a good roast.

How do you get your inspiration? Inspiration comes from a lot of different areas such as people, produce and new trends. I have a lot of respect for chefs who are out there trying new things and pushing the boundaries. Combine that with great produce and it’s hard not to be inspired.

Favourite kitchen equipment or gadget? I can’t say I have a favourite piece of equipment or gadget so to speak but it would be my kitchen stewards as they are the driving force behind keeping my equipment and gadgets clean and in good working order. With this help your kitchen becomes a playground and the equipment and gadgets are toys to play with.

Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast? Don’t be scared to try something and make mistakes. If it doesn’t work the first time don’t give up. Using good fresh ingredients is the key and don’t try to over complicate things. The simple things in life are often the best.

Funniest kitchen incident? On the morning I was returning from holidays I received text messages from several of my breakfast chefs to say they were very sick. I obviously dropped everything and quickly got myself to work preparing for a big first day back only to find all the chefs were there and breakfast under control. I was greeted to “welcome back chef”. I couldn’t help but laugh as their theory was we wanted you to arrive ready for work and not still in a holiday mindset. Looking back on this it was funny and the chefs got me good!

What do you do for fun? I love travelling, watching live sports and being around people so any of these keeps me happy!

What’s your ‘Last Supper’ meal? Your ‘Death Row’ meal, as Anthony Bourdain puts it. Can I order a 10 course degustation menu? If I had to choose one meal I would probably order my grandmothers braised beef and vegetable stew. I have never been able to reproduce that dish with the same love she did.