Hospitality Business July 2021

Page 10


Hospitality Business, Chef of the Month – Rob Cullen.

Chef of the Month

Rob Cullen “One day you could be cooking for the Pope and the next President Trump.”


or Rob Cullen, Executive years old,” says Rob. He started “The Chef at the Wairarapa’s travelling and he began work as a American dishie. “I was lucky my mother luxurious business owner of Wharekauhau knew how to cook. She was Wharekauhau Country Country Estate, his culinary always preparing preserves Estate, Bill Foley, is career has been no picnic, as they did back then, so but instead a worldwide once I got to England from launching his Foley Wines New Zealand at about 19 I whirlwind of highs and hospitality destination lows, most of which he thought, “I can do that (cook) project near the lodge in and I eventually landed some would never exchange. November this year.” His distinguished career good jobs.” – Executive Chef has taken him right to the However, those good jobs Rob Cullen. didn’t come until Rob obtained top, working all over the globe and even spending six years as some qualifications in England. “I kitchen manager for His Majesty, King woke up and smelled the coffee and Abdullah the Second in Jordan. ended up going back to school to study However, cooking wasn’t a career path for two years at the City & Guilds to gain some qualifications, working partthat Rob initially chased intentionally. “I wasn’t really interested in school time as well.” and was getting up to a bit of mischief, Rob even tried his hand at front of so I left and I’d left home at just 15 house for a time, but that wasn’t for him. 10 JULY 2021 - HOSPITALITY BUSINESS

Eight years working around England and Scotland landed him in some Michelin star establishments. Rob says he learned the hard way during a day when junior chefs put up and shut up. It was a tough lifestyle at times back then. “I remember thinking, “Can I handle it?’ he says. “Then I thought, ‘No, stuff it, and I stuck with it.” That move sure paid off. For Rob cooking has always been a passion. Right from a very young age he recalls popping into his grandma’s restaurant that she owned in New Brighton, Christchurch. “She’d be in there cooking away out the back.” Food inspired him and as a youngster of about nine he remembers having cook ups in his mother’s kitchen, burning her pots then throwing them over the fence into the neighbour’s long grass beside the

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