Sunil Panjoo may have built his career in celebrated kitchens across India and Hong Kong, but as a classically trained chef he has always taken culinary inspiration from the Mediterranean.
With a career that spans almost three decades, three continents and one Copper Skillet Australian Chef of the Year award, Sunil Panjoo now calls Sydney home as the executive chef of Table:30 at the Park Royal Hotel Parramatta.
What is your culinary background?
After completing my education in hotel management, I started as a chef trainee. Since then I have worked my way up the ranks, working in hotels and restaurant sin Malaysia, Italy, India, Hong Kong and Sydney. 26 years later I am still loving it!
What are some of the most memorable moments in you career so far?
It gives me immense pleasure to see some of my apprentices who are now executive chefs and corporate chefs- knowing that I may have made a contribution to their career, however small it may be.
How would you describe your cooking style?
Rustic with a Mediterranean twist. This style is strongly influenced by my classic training.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Life itself – I like to keep it simple and beautiful with fresh ingredients.
What is your favourite ingredient?
Seafood, because it is so versatile.
What is your signature dish, and how did it come about?
I am very proud and passionate about every dish on my menu because cooking is often a way of rediscovering yourself.
What do you enjoy about the Sydney culinary scene?
The best thing about the culinary scene in Sydney is the small operators. They can often go unnoticed amidst the celebrity chefs and the chef hat ratings, but some of the best food is available at the corner café’s in every suburb.
What is one thing you cant live without in the kitchen?
My mortar & pestle. The flavour profile you get with this equipment cannot be replicated by any of the modern machines.
What is your top chef’s tip for cooking in the kitchen at home?
Always cook with love – it is the most important ingredient.