Chef and ‘‘hunter’’ | Head chef, EXP Restaurant
Food was Joshua Gregory’s childhood passion. Raised on a property in the rural Hunter Valley of NSW, his family lived on the produce they grew, hunted, foraged or fished. He began his career as most chefs do, as a teenager in the pot-wash section, and fell in love with the sweat, the tears, the grind of the line. Under his first mentor, chef Troy Rhoades-Brown at Muse, Josh sowed the seeds of his food career philosophy: “Cooking for others is the greatest gift you can give.”
In 2012, Josh won the coveted Brett Graham scholarship through the Hunter Culinary Association. It set him on a worldwide food learning adventure, watching the northern lights at Fäviken, eating fermented clove root at the Nordic food lab, dining with Massimo Bottura in Osteria Francescana and standing in awe of Andoni Luis Aduriz in his kitchen at Mugaritz. It concluded with a stint at Brett’s Michelin-starred London restaurant, The Ledbury, working at the highest level of cuisine.
On his return to Australia, Josh joined the award-winning Biota restaurant in the NSW Southern Highlands under another mentor, chef James Viles. He learned a new respect for regionality, learning to hunt, fish and forage as well as cook with skill and ingenuity. While at Biota, Josh was a national finalist in the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence awards.
Josh returned to the Hunter Valley in 2016 to work at EXP. Restaurant, under Muse alumni Frank Fawkner. That year, he was again an Appetite for Excellence finalist and also one of 10 Asia Pacific semi-finalists in the prestigious 2016 S.Pellegrino Young Chef awards. He made the S.Pellegrino semi-finals cut again the following year, ranking him one of Australia’s top 10 young chefs for 2017.
Josh is currently head chef at EXP. Together with his wife, front-of-house manager Jessica Thorley, he is gearing up to open his own restaurant, Hunter – a modern Australian restaurant influenced by the new Nordic dining style. In the meantime, he and Jess will hold Hunter pop-up dinners.
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