On 3 April 2019, SMC welcomed their new Head Chef Regan Petersen multi-million dollar renovation program who quickly had all the burners roaring in the newly refurbished kitchens.
Regan is a graduate of Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, where he studied Hospitality Management & Professional Cookery and brings to SMC 20 years of industry experience in leading restaurants, hotels and venues across South Africa and Australia. In 2013, Regan was Finalist for Chef of the Year at the Australia Hotel Association NSW Awards for Excellence.
For Regan, cooking is in his blood. His family has a hotel background and says he was always in the kitchen. His sister is also a pastry chef. “From an early age, I knew I wanted to work with food,” he recalls. Books like Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential provided another layer of inspiration as did the chance to get a behind the scenes look at the kitchens in any restaurant or hotel he visited.
Since starting, Regan has set about making SMC’s kitchens, catering staff, menus and dishes his own. He has quickly built a dream team of six around him with one chef, one sous chef, 4 chef de parties and one new apprentice on board. “Our new chef has come across from Rick Stein’s at Bannisters Mollymook and has worked internationally. He is very skilled in international cuisines and traditional cooking methods. Regan is a master at managing and training staff. He identified the potential in a long serving kitchen hand and she has now signed on as his apprentice, which is an ideal step in fulfilling her long-held desire to be a qualified professional chef. A great example of employee engagement, promoting from within and always cultivating staff development opportunities that are part of SMC’s ‘community values pillar’.
“I really like a team with diverse expertise as I think we all learn so much from the people you work with as well as those you’ve worked for,” says Regan.
In his first weeks on deck, Regan put his own twist on the menus and dishes for clients who’d booked events where the catering was set by the previous chef. Now he is working on new menus defined by the freshest ingredients, seasonal themes and expert presentation. Sustainable catering and eating is a particular focus of this consumption conscious chef. Using each product in its entirety – from nose to tail, root to shoot, beak to claw – is an ideal way to reduce waste and gives Regan and his team the opportunity to showcase different techniques and highlight diverse flavours. “It’s really about making the most of every ingredient,” explains Regan.
Clients and delegates at SMC for multi-day events will eat their way around the world of flavours. One day might be modern Australian fare, the next could be French inspired, another might have an Italian spin and the following day could be Asian by design. On any given day, Regan and his team could be cooking for 20 to 600 people per event. Every dish has to be perfectly balanced for flavour and every plate has to be picture perfect.
“People eat with their eyes and you can really see that there is so much love on these new plates,” comments Sales Director Scott Cooper. Regan’s cuisine has impressed SMC’s clients. The organisers of a quarterly educational seated dinner for the Australian Society of Endodontists said: “You seriously are an AMAZING TEAM. Really appreciate what you and your kitchen team did last night”. Organisers from the NSW Catholic Schools Conference said: “Our attendees were very happy with the food and service provided by your excellent catering staff”.
SMC has always been at the forefront of catering to dietary requirements and this aspect is something Regan is already enhancing. The new menus include as many gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian and halal options as possible all integrated throughout the offerings, rather than tacked on. Therefore, less pre-booking is required and the difference is that all diners feel respected and well-catered for rather than feeling like second-class citizens.
As we head into the second half of the year, Regan is keenly aware that galas, award dinners and Christmas parties are just around the corner and he and the team are masterminding new menus and dishes that are expertly tailored to the celebrations.
One major area of focus for Regan and the SMC catering teams is the style and theming of food stations for stand up cocktail parties and end of year functions. For instance, a Mexican fiesta themed Christmas party can have a made-on-the-spot taco stand styled to suit the occasion. Equally, a cocktail party awards night might have a sushi and sashimi bar with a top sushi chef at the helm and a sake bar to complete the refined offering.
“It will be exciting to see how these new menus, dishes and food presentation formats complement our newly renovated event spaces,” says Scott Cooper. “No doubt, the proof will be in the pudding”.
With its CBD location and 13 flexible spaces suitable for up to 1,000 guests, the newly renovated SMC has the party season all wrapped up. Whether you are organising an intimate team dinner, an end of year awards night or a festive fiesta for your entire company and its associates, talk to SMC’s sales experts for Christmas Party Packages and bespoke dining options will delight even the biggest Bah Humbugs.