When Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Boulder graduate Max Feist was offered a chance to move to Australia, he knew he had to jump at it. Having always wanted to live abroad and intrigued by the chance to be within easy travel distance to one of his favorite food cultures, Southeast Asia, he welcomed the possibility with open arms. Now working as a chef de partie in a Texas-style BBQ spot in Melbourne, Feist is able to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of a different culture while building his career in the culinary arts.
We got a chance to catch up with Max about life down under, what he loved most about culinary school and how it’s prepared him for his career.
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts: What brought you to Australia?
Max Feist: A very spontaneous choice really. Someone asked if I wanted to move with him in 3 months and I said “yes”. But also a desire to travel to Southeast Asia. The plan was to come here with a house mate and old high school friend. We had planned a year in Oz then some time in Asia. Six weeks after we got here my friend went home to study to become a physical trainer and I had a job working in a Latin American restaurant in Saint Kilda (a town that reminded me a bit of Boulder but with a beach) so I stayed. Still haven’t been to Asia though.
AESCA: Can you tell us a little about how you came to be in the restaurant and position you’re in today?
MF: The restaurant is called San Antone by Bludso’s BBQ. It’s Texas style BBQ with a Tex-Mex menu as well. Bludso’s is a BBQ joint in Compton, California and has been rated some of the best in the U.S. I’m a chef de partie here working mainly in the smoke pit and dinner service. My front of house manager in Saint Kilda was asked to be the venue manager here and brought me over with him.
AESCA: Why did you choose Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts?
MF: Well, I was working in the medical marijuana industry for a dispensary in Denver. My father didn’t exactly approve of this and asked if I’d consider culinary school as I’d worked in the industry for a few years before and loved to cook. He had heard good things about Escoffier so I went to an open house and decided it was a good option.
AESCA: How did your culinary education help you in your career?
MF: Honestly, without it I wouldn’t be nearly as successful. The knowledge I gained helped me rise quickly as a chef. I may have still started at the bottom rungs of the ladder but I certainly wouldn’t be working where I am now.
AESCA: What is the one ingredient you must have in your kitchen at all times?
MF: I really like making curries and Thai food so I always have some chilis on hand. Plus nothing smells as good as charred chilis.
AESCA: Are there differences between cooking in the U.S. versus Australia?
MF: They have a different palate that’s for sure. Lots of lamb, squash, and pineapple. But it’s still a western country so the cultural barrier wasn’t so bad. Though I have to say I haven’t been able to get a decent slice of pizza since I’ve been here.
AESCA: What do you look forward to most about your future in the culinary arts?
MF: I’m always looking forward to the next opportunity that I’ll come across. Taking them as they come has brought me half way around the world and I’m excited to see where it’ll take me next.
AESCA: What are your hopes and dreams for your career?
MF: I mostly just want to travel and learn about food from around the world. I’ll be working for Crown for the next four years and applying for permanent residency here in two.
AESCA: How did your schooling with Escoffier Schools help you get to where you are in your career?
MF: My schooling helped quite a bit in getting me here. After my stage at T.A.G Continental in Denver I got a job at Scratch Burrito and Happy Tap, which was owned by the old sous chef at T.A.G, Clay Markwell. He brought me up to the equivalent of a chef de partie within a year of leaving school and that never would have been possible without the training I received at Escoffier.
AESCA: Why would you recommend the school to others?
MF: I’d recommend the school to anyone passionate about food that wants a good education at an affordable price.
AESCA: What was your favorite part of the program?
MF: Honestly, it is really hard to say what my favourite part was. I really enjoyed cooking the foods of the world and the farm-to-table aspect.
AESCA: How about the most helpful part of the program?
MF: The most helpful part was being surrounded by passionate people. It really made you step up your game.
AESCA: What advice do you have for others pursuing culinary education?
MF: The work is hard and you’ll make lots of sacrifices, but if you’re driven and take advantage of the opportunities that come it will take you great places.