The First Time I Met Gary Mehigan!

Updated: Sep 21, 2019

Gosh, this story goes all the way back to 2011 when I start Tafe.


As an apprentice I moved from Western Australia to Melbourne to live and work in the culinary capital of Australia, I lived with my brother Dale. He made life easier for me to move across, gave me a place to live when I got here. The first step I took in my food adventure was to register at the local tafe, Kangan Institute of learning in Broad meadows.

In my orientation the tafe staff told me they had a job for me if I wanted it, the job was for a restaurant called ‘The Boathouse’ which was located in Moonee Ponds.


The owner was Gary Mehigan, I was all for the Job, but never did I think that this how I would meet Gary!



I had been working in this restaurant for about 3 months at this point, and I had not even seen Gary yet. Then Kangan was holding a charity dinner with a special chef guest Adrian Richardson, with an army of apprentices we were split into 4 different groups, each group to prepare a different course of the dinner.


Adrian Richardsons' group preparing mains.



I should mention on this day I had overslept and arrived late, with a dirty and wrinkled uniform. So the teachers put me in the group preparing entrees, this way I would avoid Adrian and avoid being scolded for my horrible presentation! I knew I should of been prepared, but I was an apprentice and I didn’t take it seriously.


Everything was going great until we started serving the guests, and Adrian saw my uniform. In front of about 50 chefs, teachers and apprentices, he started to grill me on my presentation. Adrian then asked where I worked and I mumbled “The Boathouse…” he smiled from ear to ear and said ‘stand still’, he took a photo of me and laughed as he said “I can’t wait to send this to Gary, I’ll tell him you need to buy an iron”.




I sunk, my heart dropped, I thought about never going to work again, saner thoughts prevailed.



The next day I arrived at work and no-one said anything so I just shrugged it off, but then the weekend arrived. I was on the line cooking for a moderate Saturday lunch service, and I saw him walk in the front door, it was Gary.


Time stopped as he walked into the kitchen and said hi to the Head chef, Sous chef, and then turned to me, pointed, and said “I have a photo of you”....

There it was, all of the hard work I had put in, gone.



I had moved to Melbourne and been embarrassed in front of two of the biggest chefs in the city.


I believed I was about to be told to pack my things and leave, the kitchen was just still and staring at me as all I could do was smile and say ‘Yes… sorry about that’ then take a deep breath in. By some great miracle from the hospitality gods, Gary proceeded to just laugh and hand me an iron…

I guess I should be happy, because he remembered my name from then on in, and always said ‘Hi’ and make sure my uniform was ironed. Needless to say the Head chef and Sous chef were very strict about my appearance from then on in, but now I iron all my uniforms.


Cheers Gary Mehigan and Adrian Richardsons'


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