Steve Baar

Place of employment

University House

Currently Executive chef at University House –this is the private club for academic staff at Melbourne University ,in the grounds of the Parkville campus. It is part of an ever shrinking group of private clubs in Melbourne and an even smaller group of self run University staff clubs in Australia. This is my 15th year and currently the operation comprises 2 venues ,one at the south end of campus and the original club in the north end. A total of 4 general dining rooms (alc ,café ,bistro etc),a dedicated conference facility , and 8 function rooms ,all running concurrently for whatever is required. No day is ever the same and practicality and balance are paramount in order to achieve successful outcomes for the club. My career really got going when as part of the first group of 3 rd yr apprentices to graduate from Box Hill TAFE I was selected to represent the College in the Apprentice Cook-Off for that year (1983).

Once qualified I joined the AGPC (84) and spent a year as Commis in Le Restaurant with Klauss Lemm as Exec Chef (85). That year I entered 4 sections in the Salon Culinaire, coming away with a trophy. In 1986 I went to The Merlin Hotel in Perth as chef de partie, at the same time as the Americas’ Cup .During this time I entered “Chef of the Year” section at their Salon Culinaire.

Part of the criteria was a live cook-off in a large shopping center which was a great experience. After returning to Melbourne in 1988 I got married and settled down. I was also made Head Chef for the opening of the Redback Pub Brewery, a trendy place in its day and fine example of a “pub brewery”. In 1990 I was appointed Exec Chef for the opening of the new Police Association Club (in Franklin st opposite the Vic market) and I stayed until they closed the club 7 years later in 1997.

During the years 89 -92 I completed the Advanced Cert of Hospitality in Kitchen Operations at William Angliss. Roman Giacometto was our course supervisor and although it took a while to finish and meant lots of homework, even with a young family I really enjoyed it.

In 1998 I was appointed Exec Chef to open a new Gaming/Bistro/Function facility at Kilmore Turf and Harness Racing Club.One of only a few clubs to have both turf and harness horse racing at the one venue.This meant there were three times as many race days that involved the whole course being operational. Here I really cut my teeth on multi function venue catering. A mini Moonee Valley for want of a better description.

In the millennium year 2000 I took on the Executive chef role at University House, my predecessor had been there for 14 years, so it was a nice job to get with no work on weekends, easter , xmas. So to sum up I have run kitchens for 30 years, in that time been head chef for 4 openings and Exec chef in clubs for 24 years. I feel I’ve got a bit to give back to the industry and I feel as passionate about it now as ever.