Chris Malone: A Chef On An Amazing Culinary Journey
At the tender age of 25 Chris Malone has already enjoyed the kind of career many young chefs only dream of. This Perth-born and raised chef has only been working in the industry for 10 years and already he’s worked at top-notch venues in London, at the very apex of fine dining in Eleven Madison Park New York, and two months ago secured his latest position as Chef de Cuisine of Ossiano restaurant, a stunning underwater fine dining restaurant at Atlantis, The Palm Dubai. We caught up with Chris to find out some of the secrets of his success.
“I was lucky enough to start my apprenticeship at a restaurant called Fraser’s in King Park in Perth and that gave me some amazing foundations – I was surrounded by some incredible, humble and genuine chefs who really cared about the food they produced and they taught me everything they knew,” Chris recalls.
“I think how you start as a young chef can be such a strong influence on your career, and a lot of young chefs aren’t as lucky as I was. The level of care that was instilled into me was remarkable. I think I was pushed in the right direction, but at the same time I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had the drive and been willing to take risks. You need to have drive and determination to achieve in any career, and a lot of people don’t want to uproot themselves and leave their everyday lives. Dubai is the fourth country I’ve lived in now and I was ready to take that step and go on that adventure.”
Chris describes his current position as Chef de Cuisine of Ossiano as “one of those once in a lifetime opportunities that comes up and you just have to jump at it. I’m sure my experience at Eleven Madison Park played a role … I think the cuisine style there was a good complement to the direction the management here want to take Ossiano in the future.”
How Chris got the job was unusual in itself: “I’d never had a LinkedIn bio before and my housemate in London persuaded me to put one up – I had only two LinkedIn connections when I received a message from the VP of Culinary Atlantis which I honestly thought might be some kind of scam. The previous chef here who I took over from is renowned as one of the world’s best so it’s a very serious position.
“I sent a screenshot of the message to my girlfriend and asked if she thought it was for real, and she googled and said, this really is from the VP of Culinary! It was just an expression of interest, I still had to jump through all the hoops to apply, but I thought if you don’t try, you’ll never know – so I went ahead and sent over my CV and portfolio. That was followed by some video calls and psychometric evaluations and now here I am!”
Living and working in Dubai requires considerable adaptation and flexibility, as Chris explains. “Our team is made up of so many different cultures, nationalities and religions – I can’t even count how many different countries Atlantis has drawn its employees from, it would be well over 100. So I’m trying my best to learn about the cultures and the individual idiosyncracies so we can have an efficient workplace.
“It’s an amazing place to work because they look after their staff so well; they’re wanting to achieve the extraordinary so they’re constantly pushing for attention to detail of all the little things. There are 1700 hotel rooms and 22 food outlets within the one complex – Ossiano is just one of many, it’s a massive operation.”
Chris credits the 12 months he spent at Eleven Madison Park, renowned as one of the world’s best restaurants, as imparting invaluable training which stood him in good stead for his current role. “It’s such an inspirational restaurant, they do cuisine that inspires the world – they’re original, creative and and every single thing is so well executed and stunning,” he enthuses. “I had sent them an email and they invited me over to do a stage, so I flew to New York for the world’s most expensive job interview! I did two days and then they offered me a position on a 12 month working visa. I remember I landed in the middle of a snowstorm wearing Perth winter clothes which consisted of a hoodie and some jeans, no thermals!”
Chris says to call working at EMP high pressure would be an understatement, adding: “It wasn’t the hours, which are some of the best I’ve ever done – you did a 10 hour day generally, because they had an am team and a pm team due to the size of the operation. But the amount of mise en place we had to do in a limited time period was insane – everything was made fresh every single day and thrown out at the end, so each day you had to start from scratch.
“We needed to achieve what seemed like an unachievable timeframe – you’d start at one or two in the afternoon and tasting was at 5pm, and take a half hour forced break which virtually gave you three hours to get everything done. So it was extremely challenging, but very rewarding.
“My days of chefs’ competitions really helped prepare me for that, because it’s a similar environment – you’re in an unknown kitchen, you’re completely timed, you have someone watching you and you need to achieve the mise en place in that timeframe. So I was used to high pressure multitasking and I actually enjoyed the pressure of it – you make it a challenge for yourself, see if you can beat your best time by an extra minute or two each day, and if you can it’s a personal achievement. But as soon as you figured out one section they’d move you to another!”
Having secured a sought-after position at Ossiano, Chris is certainly being kept on his toes, but he seems to thrive in these kinds of environments. “I strongly believe success comes down to the individual,” he says. “You need to be extremely driven to achieve in life – you need to want it and dedicate yourself, you need to take a chance. If you dream of doing something, don’t sit on the fence and dwell on it, just do it. It might not work out, but it’s about adapting and doing, and surrounding yourself with the right people. I was lucky enough to find what I love from an early age, which is cooking, and wanting more for myself kept pushing me in the right direction.”