ALWAYS A LOCAL
Benalla expat and top chef Shayne Greenman.
Can you tell us about life as a kid in the North East?
I was born in Benalla and our family moved over to the Goulburn Valley, I went to primary school in the little town of Girgarre. My father passed away when I was seven years old. I went to Kyabram High School and later Shepparton North Boys College.
I worked on weekends in spring to summer picking strawberries and when I wasn’t doing that I was working as a kitchen hand weekends at the Bridge Hotel in Echuca Port so that I could move to Melbourne because I always wanted to be a chef.
Can you tell us briefly what you do now and where you are?
When I was 17 I got a train ticket to Melbourne and went and knocked on the door of the Hyatt on Collins Hotel, ended up with an interview with the Swiss head chef and that Monday I had begun my chef apprenticeship.
I’m a chef 31 years on and now specialise in all cookery and culinary arts in general.
I teach and train apprentices through to diploma and masters in culinary and hospitality students, throughout Queensland.
I live in the beautiful Gold Coast Hinterland Scenic Rim area at Mount Tamborine in a mountaintop rainforest garden - I’m a mad keen gardener in my spare time.
I also have my own wedding cake and catering business here as Mt Tamborine is the wedding reception capital of the state.
What did you love about growing up in the North East?
I learnt so much about survival skills; it was never easy growing up because even back then there was a lot of hardship with families and farmers.
You learn early to deal with life and rise above if you are able, sometimes that is not the case, some people give up and feel like there is no help or support.
I loved growing up in rural Victoria because I learnt to build with wood, to weld with metal, to do pottery and to garden and take responsibility for horses and a myriad of pets, to drive tractors and cars from an early age.
I have memories of long summers and swimming in flowing irrigation channels full of leeches and yabbies and redfin fish. Yabbying on the channel banks was a way we spent filling summer days until we saw either a tiger snake or a brown snake.
Let us know some of your career highlights.
There have been so many, especially being asked to represent my country in the work skill world titles in Singapore and winning a gold medal.
In 2012 I was asked to represent Australia again in Rimini Italy and became the World Champion in The SIGEP Cup and again two years later represented Australia in Munich Germany on the Australian Baking Team.
Teaching culinary arts in Paris at one of the world’s most famous culinary institutes has been another rather humbling experience.
Having my works of edible art displayed in galleries overseas in Europe - this is the most exciting thing for me as here in Australia we don’t really celebrate this, we only celebrate sports stars here in Australia.
I will look at going back living for a while either in France or Italy again.
What’s the first thing you do when you return to the North East?
First thing we visit our truly wonderful friends who still live and work there, catching up is number one priority.
We miss them so much, and the years go by so fast and we are always exhausted over good conversation and good food.
I’ll always order King Valley beef if it’s on the menu, and good wine, visit Brown Brothers Milawa, Milawa Cheese Factory and Milawa Mustards, and there’s always an order of lovely wines to bring home in the car boot.
Sometimes it’s just an unplanned few days in the snowfields or camping up in the hills.
After living away from the region what is it about the North East that has always stayed with you?
Good values of community and rural living, eccentric local personalities and lovely day drives throughout the region, frosty foggy mornings and roaring open wood fires in winter.