Paul Baker cut his teeth in hospitality at 17 as an apprentice at the award-winning Aria restaurant in Sydney, under the watchful eye of chef Matt Moran. Moving on to Thomas Johns’ two-hatted fine diner Pello, the young talent worked his way up to head chef.
He next embraced the life of a chef nomad, working in the south of France, and on Lizard and Bedarra islands in the Great Barrier Reef, before accepting a dream role – opening the six-star Naladhu Private Island Resort in the Maldives for the Anantara Group.
On a visit to his wife’s hometown of Adelaide, he fell in love with the state’s abundant produce and the people behind it. He took on the role of head chef at the city’s Botanic Gardens Restaurant. His inspiration comes from the 51 hectares of unique fruit and vegetables he and his crew harvest from the Gardens each day.
His passion for local produce has made him one of the South Australia’s most prolific food advocates: he is an ambassador for the #eatlocal and #ichoosesa campaigns, and a state judge for the Delicious Produce Awards.
Critics have acknowledged the success of his approach with a string of accolades, among them: consistent rankings in the Weekend Australian Magazine Hottest 50, Gourmet Traveller’s Top 100 and Financial Review Top Restaurants lists; Adelaide Advertiser Chef of the Year award 2015 and a three-fork rating in the 2016 and 2017 Advertiser Food Awards; and the Savour Australia Best Contemporary Restaurant award 2014-17.
The latter record four-year run saw the Botanic Gardens Restaurant inducted into the Savour Australia 2017 Awards for Excellence Hall of Fame as the best contemporary restaurant in the state. Savour Australia also named Paul South Australia’s Chef of the Year.
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