Industry Insights with Shane Delia

Shane Delia is one of Australia’s most talented and successful hospitality heroes, best known as the chef and owner of Melbourne favourites, Maha Restaurant and Biggie Smalls.

Shane’s career started out in his teens as an apprentice chef and his rapid progression through the industry continues to be driven by hard graft, determination and a raw passion to cook.

Today, Shane lets us in on what motivates him professionally and shares his thoughts on how to forge a successful path in Australia’s hospitality industry.

Learn from your network

“You’re only as good as the people around you,” says Shane, whose career in the kitchen started out like many other aspiring chefs. As he progressed through the ranks he was inspired by those working above him in the kitchen, whether it was his senior sous chef, chef de partie, or head chef.

As his career progressed to opening his own restaurants, he began to understand more and more about the importance of not only culinary skills, but also savvy business acumen to succeed in the industry.

“You need to take guidance, inspiration and mentorship from people who specialise in business, too.”

Listen to your heart

Shane believes that subconsciously, everyone is drawn to things that make them happy.

“The cooking skills and the art; you can learn that. But the passion must come from within. You either have the fire or you don’t.

“To succeed, you have to be brave and you have to be fearless to actually follow your heart.”

Open your mind to travel

Many of Shane’s career inspirations have come from his travel experiences. Whether it was going back to live in his homeland of Malta as a teenager, or in the villages in Lebanon more recently, each of Shane’s experiences overseas have contributed to shaping him on a personal and professional level.

“Travel is the nucleus. You need to travel to form educated and inspired ideas.

“You can’t be a good professional – whether you’re a barista, a chef, a winemaker or a potter - unless you have experienced things beyond your realm.”

Jump on opportunities

In Shane’s eyes, there’s never been a better time in Australia for a young person to seize an opportunity in the hospitality industry and get ahead in their career.

“(Australia) has some of the most gifted cooks in the world, and the best produce in the world.

“I think (now) is the most ripe, opportunistic time in Australian culinary history for a young person to grab it by the balls and go for it.”

This year, in support of the industry’s next generation, Shane is backing the nationwide Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship supported by Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. He will be lending his wisdom and expertise in an exclusive development day which will see three shortlisted finalists shadow him through a typical day in the life of his businesses. 

“(The scholarship) is an amazing opportunity for people to broaden their horizons, and to see for themselves what’s out there and what the possibilities are.

“If you live in a small box you only know what’s in there, you have remove yourself from your box and open yourself up to a bigger world,” says Shane.

Don’t miss your chance to work your way across the world and to be mentored by industry leaders like Shane Delia. Applications close this Friday, 4 May at 5pm AEST. 

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