Chef Michael Nopre began his career as an apprentice on the Gold Coast in a small family-run Italian restaurant. He moved around to several different restaurants before finishing his years of apprenticeship at The Watermark Hotel Gold Coast. After gaining enough experience he decided to take an amazing opportunity in Dubai at The Ritz Carlton Hotel DIFC, saying farewell to Australia. During his career at the hotel, he was Senior Chef de Partie in Center Cut Steak, Junior Sous Chef for In-Room Dining and Cake Cafe, and moved up to Sous Chef of Cafe Belge and Sunken Garden. Also, to further his career he took time to assist at the Blue Rain Thai Restaurant and All Dining Restaurant becoming a jack of all trades in all food operations at the hotel. After 8 years in the UAE he made his way to the Big Apple to become Chef de Cuisine at The Carlyle Hotel, A Rosewood Hotel New York.
If you could go back in time what advice would you give your younger self when starting in the industry? I felt I had a good mindset starting up in the industry, as I always wanted to be a Chef since I was a kid. I started from the bottom as a kitchen hand and worked my way up through my 4 years of apprenticeship to several positions that led into the position I have now. I've never regretted anything, but I've always said to myself I wish I made my career move overseas a lot earlier than I did. There's a whole world out there and there are many cuisines, places, and cultures to experience. Dubai and the U.A.E provide a diverse hospitality industry like no other. I have learned more there than I ever did and wish I made that move earlier.
When you were building your career how limited were your resources? Being lucky enough to grow through most of my career in Dubai, the resources were endless. There is so much talent in the Culinary Industry, especially where you can learn and gain skills as a Chef. You just have to put the time in and work for it. There were many Chefs who supported me, one of which I gained a great mentor through my time there. This mentor guided me in the right direction and we work together to this day. While working for The Ritz Carlton part of the Marriott company, there were also endless trainings available as you grew higher into a managerial/leadership role.
Where do you focus your attention day-to-day regarding your business? My day to day focus is usually on the operation, working on the pass and on the line through service to ensure the highest quality of food and service is provided. When the restaurant is closed, usually I'm working on planning daily operations for the upcoming week with any special events. Also, daily lineups with front and back of house staff are held for general daily communications and to solve daily breakdowns.
What are key characteristics you look for in applicants when hiring? Some characteristics I look for when hiring is someone who is passionate and has a lot of enthusiasm about the job. They must also be a good team player and must have a good personality. Skills and techniques can always be taught.
What changes do you want to see in our industry? Honestly, I would like to see more money for Chefs starting up in the industry, especially due to the amount of hard work and hours we put in. We as chefs are the ones who sacrifice weekends, holidays and family time. Yes, it's part of the job but a little more coin will make it worthwhile.
Follow Chef Michael's journey on Instagram.