In partnership with Hostplus, we find out what this famous chef wishes he’d known at the start of his career.
Every night, Shane Delia goes to bed knowing he did everything he could that day to the best of his ability – whatever happens next is out of his control. This attitude and persistence helped his rise in the hospitality world.
At 37, Delia juggles a busy life as owner and head chef of Maha Restaurant and Biggie Smalls, with TV presenting duties on Shane Delia’s Spice Journey and Postcards. He’s also the author of Maha Middle Eastern Home Cooking and Spice Journey, and works closely with Sons of the West, a men’s health charity affiliated with the Western Bulldogs.
Food is at the core of everything he does, and has been Delia’s passion for as long as he can remember. But success didn’t come easily. Looking back, he wishes he was a lot more prepared.
“I finished school at 16. I left on the Friday and went straight into an apprenticeship where I was on my feet for 12 hours,” he says. “I remember going home after a few weeks utterly exhausted – both physically and mentally.”
But Delia advises young apprentices to “stick with it.”
“There were times very early on that I wanted to quit but it was Mum who kept encouraging me to continue.”
With so many celebrity chefs, new apprentices might think TV is the path to success. But despite his own success on television, Delia disagrees.
“If you want to be on TV then study journalism or acting – don’t become a chef. It’s not a natural progression,” he says. “TV is really bloody hard – you’re there to be judged. And if you do end up on TV, don’t pretend, because if you don’t like the person you’re pretending to be, get ready for the flak.”
Delia also wishes he’d know about the technical aspects of TV.
“One lesson I learnt early on is that the microphone is always on, even when you go to the toilet and sneak away for a ‘private’ conversation. Big brother is always watching and listening!”
“There was a crossroad at the end of my apprenticeship where the norm was to go overseas to the UK or France,” Delia says. “A lot of the guys I worked with did take that road, but there were a couple of us who stayed here.
“For the chefs that went on early, it really opened up their eyes and they learnt a lot about cooking and meeting new people. Those that stayed were able to properly establish themselves a little better at home both professionally and financially.
“[Staying home] has worked well for me. I have an amazing wife, great friends and family. I am healthy and have an amazing team of people that work with me.”
Delia says there’s no right or wrong answer and advises up-and-coming chefs to “push on” with whichever choice they make.
This article is presented in partnership with Hostplus, which has your super covered no matter your role and how it changes through your career.