John Meyer

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My Background

To say I love food would be an understatement. I am so dedicated to my craft that, in 2009, I decided to return to university to learn food and nutritional health.

I am a qualified chef, completing a double degree in the fields of which I’m most passionate—food and information technologies. My first degree is a Bachelor of Nutrition, due to be completed in mid-2018, and my second is a Bachelor of Design and Communication, due to be completed in mid-2019.

There were some crucial turning points in my cooking career, leading me down the path I am currently on.

My food journey started with my parents; growing up with mixed race parents (my father, German; my mother, Thai) gave me exposure to vastly different foods. In my childhood, I grew up eating eisbein (stewed pork hock), sauerkraut, and Thai curries. Over time, my mother’s cooking evolved with Anglo German/Thai infusion in the combination of semmelknoedel (bread dumplings) with Thai curries. These two different cultural foods worked well together.

In my junior school years, all my friends brought Devon (baloney) with cheese or jam and peanut butter sandwiches—and I brought foods like semmelknoedel with Thai curries. At the time, I felt the odd one out.

Skipping a few years and careers, I spent eight years as a bicycle messenger in Sydney, Australia; I knew this career path had a used-by date on my body. For my next career change, I chose the growing information technology industry, enrolling in a private information technology college. But while I was earning good money as a bicycle messenger, the computer college was not cheap. To make ends meet, I got a job as a dish hand or, as the head and sous chef jokingly called me, “Chef de Plonge” (Chef of Dishes), or “head dishwasher.”

I spent four to five years during the mid to late 90’s at the Hotel Palisade in The Rocks of Sydney, washing dishes for Chefs Brian Sudek and Annie Parmentier. Within this era, I could pinpoint my growing love affair with foods—and another career path developing.

At a chance encounter with friends of friends, I was offered a weekend casual cooking position on a Sydney tall ship, Our Svanen. The ship was a three-masted barquentine built in Denmark in 1922, and while I loved this job, I was seasick for nearly 12 months out of four years working on the boat.

Around 2004 to 2005, I moved up to Queensland and found myself working as a cook for a health resort of Fountain Head Organic Retreat in the iconic town of Maleny. This resort exposed me to a different range of foods, as well as using foods as health therapy.

In 2007, I inquired about going to university to study nutrition because, in the food chain of cooks/chefs, I could not go higher in my career. I made a choice to gain my chef qualification by attending two years at the Queensland Technical and Further Education (QLD TAFE) and gain my Certificate 3 in commercial cookery. Those trade papers were the key that unlocked the doors to university.

At the time, I was only enrolled in nutrition, and during my early years of university, I changed programs to Design and Communication. I wanted both degrees to further my education and had to find a way to do both. I eventually changed back to nutrition and found that, if I completed all my supplementary subjects in the area of communications, I could navigate both degrees simultaneously, even while driving from Brisbane to Maleny and the Sunshine Coast on a 200km round trip for three to five days a week, which made me significantly fatigued.

From 2013 to 2014, I found employment at Fundies Wholefood Market in Paddington, a suburb of Brisbane. At university, I was learning about all the health benefits of a vegetable diet, and here I was working at Fundies, an organic grocery shop with a vegetarian café. My cooking style changed from my time at Fundies, and I can attribute my love affair with cooking vegetables with this café.

Currently, I am working for Gwen’s Fitness and Weight Loss Retreat on the Sunshine Coast and Maya McColm Dietitian at Buderim, applying both my cooking and nutritional training.

Over the years of cooking, I have moved around to many places, gaining new skills in each kitchen. But where I have learnt most of my kitchen skills was during my times at various chef agencies like Pinnacle People in Brisbane and SSC Hospitality on the Sunshine Coast. These agencies would send me from small café-type kitchens to very large commercial kitchens in stadium-size venues.

My unique skill set bridges the gap between different stake holders, like nutritional health professions, and the ability to execute that action in the kitchen. In short, I can newly develop or adapt recipes, or I can conduct a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the macro and micronutrients in a recipe provided me, informing clients about whether it meets the target population’s nutritional needs; taking high-quality, mouth-watering pictures; and bringing the recipe to publishing standards.

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