Returning to Flying Fish for a third time, Hall is excited to be leading one of The Star Sydney’s signature dining venues into a new era that strips the menu back to basics and serves up simple, honest yet punchy dishes, celebrating the flavours and freshness of the very best produce from across Australia’s land and sea. Here, he explains where his love of great food comes from alongside his plans to rejuvenate the iconic restaurant.
Having grown up on a rural property near Port Macquarie on NSW’s mid-north coast, my childhood was all about living off the land and learning how to cook in my parent’s kitchen. I helped raise chickens, ducks, pigs, and cows on their farm, tended the veggie garden and fruit orchard as well as went fishing and catching mud crabs in the local river with my dad.
It’s this close connection to the food my family and I enjoyed together in my early years which spurred on my interest and commitment to using fresh local organic produce, native ingredients, sustainably caught seafood and ethically raised meats in my cooking, and to honor the producers that dedicate so much time to their craft.
Once I knew I wanted to become a chef, I started working in local cafes before taking my first role at the Oaks Pacific Resort in Port Stephens. It was after that in 2010, my long-standing relationship with Flying Fish began when I worked my way up to Head Pastry Chef by age 23 under the guidance of then Executive Chef Stephen Seckold, who I learnt a lot from.
To help diversify my experience, I moved to Melbourne from 2014 to 2018 and worked across hatted fine dining establishments before becoming Head Chef at a small farm-to-table cafe in Richmond. It was here that my passion for building strong connections to local farmers and producers was reignited and I was reminded of what being a chef is all about: nurturing people and making them feel happy, well fed and looked after.
I finally returned to Sydney in 2018 and rejoined Flying Fish as Head Pastry Chef and then Sous Chef, helping transition the world-class seafood restaurant from Jones Bay Wharf to its current home at The Star Sydney before a two year stint at Surry Hills’ degustation-only fine dining venue Arthur.
Now, I’m back at Flying Fish and excited to revitalise the menu to bring sustainable, quality seafood and produce to the forefront.
As a been a mainstay in my career – it was the first fine dining restaurant I worked at when I moved to Sydney 11 years ago, and is also where I met my wife – so I’m honoured to now be taking the reins as Executive Chef at Flying Fish, and have the opportunity to create a space that truly highlights and heroes the seafood producers and suppliers who devote so much passion to sustainably sourcing and farming.
I’m looking forward to creating seasonal menus that focus on local produce, native ingredients, and sustainable seafood from around Australia including a wide variety of edible seaweed and algae’s.
Expect to see a wider range of fresh and cured seafood, especially from the stunning raw bar which takes pride of place in the venue and, rather than being bound by words that have cultural implications like ceviche, crudo or sashimi, I want new dishes to led by seasonal local suppliers with garnishes that elevate the natural flavours of the seafood.
Think: Raw Shark Bay Scallops with pickled desert lime, lemon myrtle and cultured cream, Hiramasa Kingfish with green tomato and Geraldton wax, and Pacific Oysters with wakame cream and kelp oil.
I’m also excited to play with the kitchen’s wood-fired grill and have already added Jervis Bay Mussels smoked over paperbark, seasoned with fermented chilli served with almond cream and saltbush flatbreads and barbequed Goolwa Pipis served piping hot with chickpea miso, warrigal greens and salted sunrise lime to the menu.
Building a new offering upon a restaurant with such established credentials is going to be a challenge but I’m really looking forward to getting creative and experimenting with redefining what an Australian seafood restaurant can be and what that will look like going forward.
I look forward to welcoming you to Flying Fish – see you soon!