Mal Meiers fell into a cooking career by chance. He’s since turned that opportunity into a campaign for a cause he’s passionate about.
As a hotel management student, Mal was buying textbooks at a hospitality supply shop when a chef mistook him for an apprentice and offered him a kitchen hand job. The restaurant world instantly “clicked” with the young Queenslander.
What’s followed has been an exciting career in Sydney, Melbourne, London, New York and France, working in such prestigious restaurants as Bennelong and Pendolino in Sydney, The Square in London, IDES, Tonka and Bistro Guillaume in Melbourne. In 2015 he was a state finalist in the Appetite for Excellence Young Chef awards and, in 2016, he made the national finals.
Over time, Mal experienced first-hand the level of depression and anxiety experienced by chefs and other hospitality workers. Drawing on his qualifications in hotel and small business management, in 2014 he launched Food for Thought charity dinners. The annual events in Melbourne, Sydney and, in 2017, Brisbane, see up-and-coming chefs volunteering their time to support the charities Beyond Blue and R U OK? and raise awareness of mental health issues.
Embracing the nomad chef lifestyle, in 2015 Mal collaborated with his partner, sommelier Kate Christensen, to create Food + Wine. They began by staging dinner events for a month at a time at venues around Australia. In 2017 they took the concept to Europe, running sell-out Food + Wine popups in London, the south of France, Belgium and Portugal.
Mal has since returned to Australia and is currently working at Tasmania’s No.1 restaurant, Franklin, in Hobart. It reflects his philosophy on food, emphasising seasonality, sustainability and forming relationships with local suppliers.
Mal’s goal is to continuing growing, learning and immersing himself in all things food and wine, provenance and process. His focus extends to the unique ceramics he creates, on which food at his pop-up dinners is served, and his plans to one day use them in his own restaurant.
He is now an official RUOK? ambassador, representing the hospitality industry, and is in demand for public speaking engagements in the area of mental health.
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