Meet our 2014 Scholarship Winner

Photo: Mark Bashinsky, Aria Restaurant, Brisbane

Following an apprenticeship and five years working at the prestigious Aria Restaurant in Sydney, Mark moved to Queensland to assist with the opening of Aria Restaurant in Brisbane where he has been sous chef for five years. Thank you to the team at Aria Restaurant for supporting his application.

Through the application process Mark demonstrated all the qualities of a future leader in Australia’s hospitality industry: his high standard of professionalism, a strong desire to build on his skills and experience and bring his learnings back to the team at Aria.

This week, Mark Bashinsky, winner of the inaugrual HOSTPLUS Hospitality Scholarship embarked on his trip of a lifetime, jetting to San Francisco, Paris and Japan over the next few weeks to stage in three incredible restaurants.

We caught up with Mark ahead of his trip to find out what he’s most excited about experiencing.

Q. Have you had the opportunity to work in kitchens overseas before?

No I haven’t. This will definitely be great experience for me and I think the three venues that I’ve picked are going to be quite distinct and different from each other. They have each achieved Michelin stars on different levels (ie one star, two stars, three stars). Michelin is such an important international scaling that I’m really interested to see all three levels at work as well as of course experiencing the different cultures at the same time.

Q. How did you go about choosing the countries and restaurants you wanted to stage at?

It was such an amazing process to get to decide and I feel very fortunate. I was influenced by food trends in both Australia and abroad. I chose Paris as I think it will be very classical in its approach; Japan because I’m interested to see how they have based themselves on the techniques of France however have developed  them into a style of their own; and San Francisco as it’s renowned for championing  new-wave food and will be really cutting-edge. I predict that there will be very different styles and approaches in each of the restaurants.

Q. What do you hope to gain from the experience?

The two main things are the experience of travelling and to encounter different cultures. The language barrier is going to be interesting and I’m interested to get behind the scenes, to see how the kitchens run, the team building, how they source their produce, etc. Basically how all of the different factors contribute to the overall body of the restaurant. I’m also interested to meet the chefs, talk to them about what drives them and how they got to where they are today. Then I want to bring this all home to Aria; learn some new techniques and perhaps introduce some new flavours to our kitchen. I think I’ve also chosen a particularly fortunate time of year to travel. In France it will be game season and in Japan it will be wintertime truffle season. I’m really looking forward to trying this produce at its peak in-season and compare that to the ingredients we use at home.

Q. Who will be mentoring you when you return to Australia?

I’ve chosen Andrew McConnell. I really admire his work ethic and style. He’s very successful in Melbourne, his food is outstanding, and he continues to open new establishments to great success - such as Supernormal. I think he will be a fantastic person to learn from.

Best of luck Mark!

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