In the kitchen with Firefly’s head chef Zac Stanning

What drew you to the head chef position at Firefly?

I saw an opportunity to elevate the food side of things. To take something great and turn it into something $%^&ing amazing. To put my own creative stamp on the menu.

Biggest career highlights to date?

Working with chefs like Jamie Oliver, Anthony Telford, Guillaume Zika and Frederick Barreau.

What’s your go to meal after knocking off work?

Generally the last thing most chefs want to do post hanging up the apron is cook. I’ll typically cross the bridge for late night Chinese at Golden Century or a cheeky margarita and taco at El Loco in Surry Hills. I’m also guilty of a midnight serving of pancakes at Maisy’s around the corner.

What you love most about being a chef?

Being able to work anywhere in the world. I have been lucky enough to travel and meet people from many different cultures who all share the same love, respect and passion for food.

Favourite ingredients at the moment and why?

Finger limes, persimmon and parsnips. Each ingredient has it’s own distinct flavours but can each be used to surprise the palate. Finger limes have a distinct citrus flavor that can balance heavier flavors. Persimmons are generally quite sweet and can bring out some unique characteristics in fish. Parsnips are a favourite because of it’s versatility – it can be used as a savoury component or even in desserts.

 

Biggest kitchen nightmare to date?

On one of the hottest and busiest days of the year as an apprentice chef, the power cut out in the building. The extractor fans, lights and electric equipment were dead but the gas was working so we kept going. Our only source of light was the flame from table candles. It was ridiculous! The power came back on after the last table walked out..at that point i felt like i was about to collapse.

An unexpected challenge in the kitchen?
The language barrier. I once asked an Italian chef to pass the cheese and got a chair from the restaurant floor instead. Another time i asked a polish chef for pea tendrils and ended up with tandoori sauce. Let’s just say i’ve gotten really good at sign language.. oh and I can swear in ten different languages now.