This article is brought to you by Woolworths Financial Services.
At the 2022 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards, chef John Norris-Rogers (head chef at the La Colombe Group’s PIER Restaurant at the V&A Waterfront) was recognised as the Eat Out Woolworths Financial Services Chef of The Year. We caught up with him in the wake of his big win.
To be named Chef of the Year is a massive achievement and something I was not expecting at all. I’m extremely grateful to have been recognised, and this award is definitely aimed at acknowledging more than just one individual – it’s also a nod towards the massive team behind me. With PIER only opening up last year, we started out with a brand new team (with a few familiar faces), and it’s very rewarding to have everyone’s hard work recognised.
As a chef, I think it’s important for restaurants to curate a complete experience for our diners, not simply just a great meal. From Copenhagen to Japan, I’ve travelled extensively, and I take a lot of inspiration from the restaurants I visit. My stint at the world-famous three Michelin-starred Maaemo in Norway really opened my mind, and I believe we should aim to deliver an experience that’s bigger than just the food or the service. All the elements should be perfectly married, creating an unforgettable experience and a distinct impression of the restaurant’s identity with patrons so they leave with a feeling of having truly encountered something unique. That’s definitely what we are striving for at PIER.
Our oyster course has a lot of significance for me, and for PIER as well. The oyster trolley service is quite iconic, particularly with its history as a classic La Colombe Group dish that’s been with us for many years. We reincarnated it. For me, it’s also quite fitting to bring this dish to PIER, as it was one of the courses that was in my section when I started at La Colombe 12 years ago.
Aspiring chefs should line up their expectations with what’s happening in the industry. The food industry is extremely tough, so exposing yourself fully to it early in your career is crucial in order to fully see what it’s about and if it’s something you are really passionate about. And then it’s all about hard work – putting your head down, doing the best you can, and achieving the best results from that hard work.
Read all about the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant of The Year for 2022 – The LivingRoom at Summerhill Guest Estate