The “rock star” Chef is alive and well in Australia. But who really notices the people front of house, the professionals who efficiently look after their guests. If people see a familiar face on the floor, they know the place is going to be good. Martin Fairhurst is just such a professional.
A youthful looking 41, Martin has been in hospitality since he was a 16 year old when he helped a family friend in a pub in Albury. A 6 week hospitality course led to a 2 week stint in the dining room of Albury’s Commercial Club. His hard work was recognised and he was offered a 4 year apprenticeship, the last of its kind in the industry. There he gained skills in all areas of dining including preparing and serving food at the table and learning the nuances of ‘old school waiting’. In his second year, the restaurant manager resigned and Martin offered to take on the job at his apprenticeship wages for 3 months. So at the ripe old age of 19, he was appointed restaurant manager and hasn’t looked back.
The ubiquitous ‘working holiday’ to the UK saw Martin in high end restaurants including over a year at Sir Terence Conran’s Michelin Star, Mettzo Restaurant. Returning to Australia, Albury suddenly seemed a little small so a move to Melbourne found him answering an ad for The Lake House. He says “It only took 8 minutes to fall in love with Daylesford.” So began a close 10 year association with owner and executive chef, Alla Wolf-Tasker. Martin says “I loved working with Alla. We shared a passion for food and good service and we worked well together”. He later joined forces with chef Kazuki Tsuya, to gain a chef’s hat at Kazuki’s self named restaurant in Daylesford. They didn’t manage the hat in their first year, but made it in the second.
For the past two years, Martin has been a familiar face at popular Daylesford café, Larder, where he says “I’ve met more locals here than ever, and a popular spot like this becomes a hub of the town.” He adds “I love helping people and because I know so many in town, I’m comfortable referring them when visitors ask what they can do during their stay”. Hospitality works in well with Martin’s family life and gives him time to spend with his wife and two daughters and to run the odd marathon or two – his own personal de-stressor.