Our ‘GET TO KNOW YOUR CHEF’ is now in full swing – we now have the 2nd in our series of meet and greets designed to showcase our brilliant local chefs and kitchen staff in the Whitsundays area and we would love to put the spotlight on your restaurant, café or take away business. Speak to your sales rep for more details on how to boost your business profile and see a rare behind the scenes into your kitchen and the staff who make it amazing.

A chef is not simply a cook, but a culinary expert, and this title is very deserving of todays Monday MEET AND Greet – Zibby Deca, Head Chef from Denman Cellars at the Port of Airlie whose love of cooking and his success in producing remarkable food coupled with his passion for creating something that brings such satisfaction to people makes him very deserving of being known as one of the best chefs in the Whitsundays area.

Take a few minutes to read about his life aspirations and his love of the people and the area he calls home with our Area Manager, Kat Phillips.

Kat: Thank you for time this morning Zibby, I have a few questions for you to answer whilst you are posing for the camera.

How long have you worked in a kitchen and where have you worked?

It started as a passion when I was a teenager. I always wanted to help adults in food preparation and was keen to cook something new and interesting for my family and my friends. As a home grown cook, I spent plenty of time studying recipes and gaining knowledge from others before stepping into the commercial kitchen for the first time in 2010. Most of my work experience in Australia has been for some local restaurants, and since 2012, my knife and my heart belong to Denman Cellars.

What made you want to become a chef?

I grew up in a family that were passionate about the quality of food. As a child and teenager, I spent a lot of time on my grandparent’s farm, where they bred animals, grew their own fruit and vegetables, baked their own breads and cakes, and cured and smoked meats. My grandparents taught me that food is a pleasure and I always wanted to share that with other people. It’s also limitless and makes every day in the kitchen different – That puts a smile on my face and makes me feel like I start a new job every day!!

What is your “secret weapon” spice or ingredient?

It’s difficult to choose only a few as I always try to use something new and different. In my opinion every dish needs a little butter, beer and love.

So Zibby, you are from Poland, what is the food and or industry like back home and how does it compare to Australia?

Polish foods consists of strong flavours and high quality ingredients, it’s both similar and different to Australian cuisine at the same time. We share the same passion for beetroot or gnocchi (yes, it’s not only an Italian dish!), apple pies and cheesecakes. On the other hand, we have our National specialties that not many Australians would be brave enough to try out such as tripe soup, sauerkraut stew and blood sausages. In recent years, it feels like there has been a food revolution in Poland and we are slowly catching up with the best in the world! This has been recognised recently in 2013 when one of the restaurants earned a Michelin Star, which was a first for the country!

If you had your own restaurant what would you call it and what would you be cooking?

I would call my restaurant “HOME” and I would serve modern adaptations of “comfort food” from different cuisines to enlighten people’s memories, make them happy, relaxed and of course, full!!

Most people know Denman Cellars for their wide range of local and imported boutique beers but what can you tell us about the kitchen side of the venue and how important it is with the style of the Venue?

The kitchen is just as important as the beer selection. We offer an array of different and tasty share boards and tapas that we can match to our boutique beers. Our aim is for our customers to share and try great food while drinking and relaxing in a serene environment.

Everyone has something they like to use more than anything else in the kitchen, what is your favourite utensil/piece equipment in the kitchen?

Definitely a fork, knife and a spoon – That is all I need to taste what I have just created!

Have you ever cooked for any VIP’s in your time?

Yes, I do every day – I treat every customer as my VIP and I always make sure that every dish that leaves my kitchen is of the highest of standards.

What is the best thing about working at Denmans?

For a Chef, it is extremely important to work for someone who trusts you and appreciates your work…. I have found that here at Denman Cellars.

Most of us know how full on kitchens can be when they are busy. Have you had any injuries as a result of the mayhem that is “service”?

So far, so good! I think I am lucky that nothing serious has happened to me at this stage (touch wood!!). Of course, as Chefs, there is always burns and cuts involved now and then and the kitchen can be a dangerous place, the key to safety for me is to always stay focused on the job at hand.

Lastly what can we expect from Denmans in the future? Is there anything new and exciting in the pipelines?

We have some exciting times ahead at Denman Cellars with an all new look and “Denmans” experience. We are in the process of renovating and we are preparing some new and exciting menu ideas. We can’t reveal too much as we want to surprise our customers!!

Watch this space….