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As Samui continues to evolve the Samui Times team loves nothing more than discovering more about the rich tapestry of ex-pats who choose to make Samui home. In order to continue delving into the lives of our island resident we caught up with George, who spends his time creating dishes to impress guests dining at the Squires Loft Steak House in the Fishermans Village.
G: My passion for cooking started back when I was 12 or 13 seeing my parents and grandparents cooking at home, in particular the many preserves, and pickles they would make from veggies grown in the garden, olives from the tree, and jams from the fruit trees.
This also included homemade salami and sausages, fresh yoghurt, and even fresh cheeses. Salting sardines and sun-drying food items was so common in my household growing up.
I can still remember the fresh tuna my dad would buy and simmer for 4 hours, this was so much tastier than the canned version.
ST: Tell us a little about your career so far
G: I started my apprenticeship at 16 yrs old. It was never my plan to become a chef, it just started as a holiday job and 2 days later I was offered an apprenticeship.
I have been fortunate to work in all types of restaurants and large 5 star hotels and lucky to have covered most styles of cuisine.
The most rewarding time was to open 2 steak restaurants one in central Victoria, the other was a hotel in the central business district of Melbourne.
ST: Tell us about your transition to Samui, how did you end up in kitchens of the Squires Loft?
G: I’ve known Michael for many years and we travelled together to Thailand many times and both fell in love with the country. I have always wanted to live and work in Thailand and when the opportunity came along to join Michael and Troy as the chef for SL I took it.
G: The one standout about SL is the foolproof systems in place which allows consistency in the production of all meals. There are no chef egos to manipulate the experience for the customer. “This is the way we do things here” is a common mantra, which ensures the customer receives the same dining experience each time they eat at any SL restaurant.
The product speaks for itself, it is of the highest standard…. This makes the cooking side of things relatively easy.
ST: And how are you finding island life?
G: Island life is, well what can I say… It’s around 47 steps to the beach from the restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed coming to work every day. I still haven’t seen much of Samui as the first few months of opening a restaurant requires a little fine tuning. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and haven’t been able to step back yet, however with our new 2nd chef Ton to join our kitchen recently has allowed me to get out and about. Ton has previously worked at the Shack, and brings with him the right amount of experience to the team.
ST: How do you find the availability of ingredients in Samui? do you have to import many products?
G: All our meat and sauces are imported from Australia, the only problem I have sometimes is to source fresh vegetables and potatoes, but after trying various suppliers, we believe we have found the right ones ensuring the freshest ingredients every time.
ST: How would you like to see the Squires Loft evolve?
G: In Australia there are 17 SL restaurants, our future plans is to open another SL restaurant within the next year.
G: My favourite dish would have to be the pork ribs, which are slowly simmered then vacuum sealed with our unique baste and marinated for 7 days before they are served to the customer. My second favourite would have to be the 400 Gm RIb eye steak with the black pepper sauce.
ST: What are you plans for the future?
G: My plans for the future would be to eventually retire in this paradise I’ve been so lucky to be living in, and to make SL the #1 steakhouse in Koh Samui.