How a former bricklayer landed a place in world’s most prestigious cooking competition

The Mornington Peninsula’s Michael Cole is gearing up to compete in the Bocuse d’Or finale.

By Natasha Lee 30/05/2018

Michael Cole was just 10 years old when he decided he was going to be a chef. The signs were all there. Instead of going fishing with his father, Cole would hang back at home with his mother in the kitchen and cook.

“I always loved cooking,” he said.

“I’d stay at home with mum. My dad would say: ‘Do you want to go fishing?’ and I’d say: ‘No, I want to stay at home with mum in the kitchen’. It was always like that.”

For a brief period growing up, Cole dabbled in a building career, but very quickly realised it wasn’t for him. “I remember sitting on smoko break and everyone was talking about football and I was reading a cookbook. I was a terrible builder,” he laughed.


Cole in the kitchen at Georgie Bass. Source: Flinders Hotel

Thankfully, he tossed the bricks and mortar to the wayside and went back to the kitchen, where he’s remained ever since.

Now head chef at the luxury Flinders Hotel and its sister restaurant, Georgie Bass, in the Mornington Peninsula, Cole is determined to breathe new life into the diverse region.

“When I first came down here I just got addicted to the fresh produce,” he said.
“I also like foraging – I like going out and finding all the wild herbs and succulents. Then there’s the small boutique farms. I got addicted to it.”

Cole’s culinary background is as varied as the Mornington itself and it’s something he believes gives him an edge when it comes to showcasing the region’s extraordinary fare.

“I’m French trained and then I spent a lot of time in Japan,” he said. “So, a lot of people who talk about my style talk about it being this classic European training with the precision of the Japanese chefs.”

It’s this precision that has seen Cole qualifying for a place in the Bocuse d’Or finale in Lyon, France, to be held in January, 2019.

Joined by his commis chef, Laura Skvor (who, incidentally, won Best Commis Chef in the Asia Pacific), Cole is busily preparing for the event, which is often hyped as the most prestigious gastronomic competition in the world.


Cole’s competition partner Laura Skvor. Photo: Bocuse d’Or

“Right now, I’m about to head off to Malaysia after being selected to complete in the Global Chef’s challenge,” he said.

“Then, when I get back from that, I get into full time training for the Bocuse d’Or. I’ll be training six days a week all the way up until December and then they send me to France for six weeks.

“The idea is that you do all your foundation work here and finalise all your techniques with Australian produce, and then you go over and try it with French produce to see if you need anything tweaked,” he said.

As for what exactly he’ll be cooking, the affable chef is keeping mum.
“You’ll just have to wait and see”, he laughed.

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

5 Fitness Goal Mistakes – And The Best ‘Fixes’

Lachlan Rowston — co-founder of Sydney’s best, and most exclusive gym, Lockeroom – provides a realistic approach to achievement via beneficial goals.

By Lachlan Rowston

08/04/2022

‘Don’t Film Any Soldiers, They May Shoot Us’: Inside Ukraine’s Secret Battle To Save Its Art

Art critic Waldemar Januszczak reports on the country’s astonishing mission to stop the destruction of its artistic treasures.

By Waldemar Januszczak For The Times

22/04/2022

Forgotten Macallan Whisky Cask Could Break Auction Records

The owner purchased it over 30 years ago on a whim.

By Rachel Cormack

22/04/2022

A Jackson Pollock ‘Drip’ Painting Is Expected to Fetch $60 Million

‘Number 31’ (1949) will hit the block during an evening sale at Christie’s in New York on May 12.

By Angelica Villa

21/04/2022

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Art And Personal Mementos Head To Auction

The Potomack Company is selling items from the late Supreme Court justice’s DC apartment, including a Picasso engraving, a medal and more.

By Bryan Hood

19/04/2022

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe to Robb Report today!

Subscribe today

Stay Connected