Executive Chef Gordon Hunt views every dining event as an exciting challenge. He recalls preparing a raw food dinner as one of his most interesting requests.
“For the raw food dinner, we prepared each course in a way that accentuated the beauty and flavour of the food, without actually cooking it, and we went to great lengths to ensure that the presentation was immaculate,” he says.
“We’re also receiving more and more unusual dining requests for weddings which makes my job rewarding…and a lot of fun!”
Gordon’s enthusiasm and passion for his work has not wavered since he started at the Club 25 years ago. In fact it was through the Club that his passion was really ignited.
“I was the inaugural winner of the Club’s Graduate Cooks program in 1987 and was sent to Hong Kong to meet and work with some of the best chefs in the world. It was an absolutely life-changing experience.”
Inspired to continue working with industry leaders, Gordon travelled and worked his way around London, Canada and the USA before returning to Canberra, to take up a job with the Club.
“The Club has given me the opportunity to run my own show, as well as have a work/life balance,” he says. “Most chefs my age are burnt out and uninspired, but I am constantly provided with the opportunity to create, whilst having a life with my family.”
This philosophy has fostered a tight knit team of professionals in the kitchen who, because of the great work conditions and inspired approach, strive to excel at what they do. “Our approach is the same every time: to offer the best possible quality at a competitive price.”
His insistence on quality and sourcing products from reputable producers has been prevalent throughout his career, long before the term ‘from paddock to plate’ became trendy.
“I’ve travelled to areas throughout Australia to make sure that the produce we receive is of the highest quality,” he explains. “We’ve been to Tasmania to look at the salmon facilities and King Island to spend a week at the abattoirs so that we gained an understanding of what happens to the produce before it gets to us.”
Gordon points out that the Club was also way ahead of its time in catering to special dietary requirements.
“We’ve had gluten free, vegetarian and small portion options on our menu for years,” he says proudly. “And we will always go out of our way to cater for particular needs, whether it’s at a large function or requested over the counter in the bistro.”
As for the future of dining at the Club, Gordon is once again, ahead of his time.
“We are definitely conscious of serving healthier and smaller portions,” he says. “And we explore lots of regional cuisines to provide a huge variety on our menu, which is not only great for our Members,” he adds. “We also learn great new skills. For instance, when we prepare Indian cuisine, we’ll research traditional cooking techniques and spices to make sure the dishes are as authentic as possible.”
Another trend that Gordon is seeing is that of increasingly unconventional weddings.
“Couples love having their weddings here because we’re extremely flexible and open to different ideas. We also involve the couples as much as possible throughout the catering process and hold tasting sessions – which a lot of other venues don’t do.”
Another great trend that Gordon is seeing is the move towards having Christmas lunch at the Club.
“It’s become such a huge event and it’s a lot of fun. We’ll serve between 800 and 900 meals so it’s incredibly hard work. But I’m really proud of my team and the way they pull together. And at the end of the day, we can still celebrate Christmas dinner with our families.”