March 26, 2014

Meet Cheffie

Meet Cheffie. Anna Johnston -

The ‘Meet….’ series gives you a glimpse into the inner workings of some of my all time fave peeps and  cheffing superheroes. I ask the same ten questions and you get their heartfelt responses.

Do you know Paul Butler? Or, if you live in the Berra… you’d know him as Chef or Cheffie?  You must – and if you don’t, what rock have you been living under? This man is an institution in our town.  His reputation precedes him!

Meet Cheffie. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.comPaul has been published a bunch of times, done a couple of cooking stints with George Calombaris, Vic Cherikoff, Serge Dansereau & Matt Moran to name a few, and trained with some of the industries toughest.  He was the Executive Chef at the Press Club for 12 years before moving into the Food & Beverage Manager position just 3 years ago.  Not only do Cheffie and I share an office, a love of Food & Wine & Beer, but we are Yellow Van Ambassadors,  and get to participate in many fundraising gigs together, like our yearly cooking demonstration at Floriade.

How long have you been cooking / a chef?

Completed my apprenticeship in 1982. That’s when you were born right?!

Where are some of the coolest places you’ve worked? Destination jobs etc.

As a fourth year apprentice I worked in a little restaurant in a NSW University town called Armidale. The work was interesting and challenging, but it was the after work parties that were spectacular. No one throws pyjama parties like uni students!

Meet Cheffie. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.comWhat’s your signature dish?

No signature dishes as such. I love the whole idea of going to the fridge or the cool room and seeing what’s left, and then trying to make something great out of whatever I find.

What was your worst kitchen disaster? Worst cut, burn etc. What happened?

First real job in Canberra at the Canberra International Motor Inn, it was week 2 on the job and I was 21. I was asked to make 20 litres of Ice cream, which I promptly turned into scrambled eggs. I was then told to make 20 litres of Mayonnaise, which I curdled badly. Like the day couldn’t get any worse, I burnt the crap out of 10 litres of caramel, it was so bad that we had to throw the pot away. 

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring three things, what would they be and why?

Tough question! Assuming there was enough animal life and vegetation on the island to survive, I would take a nice assortment of booze to make cocktails on the beach, my trusty pepper mill loaded with a sh!t tonne of pepper because you can assume there is plenty of salt, and my Bear Grylles knife just because I’m on a desert island and well he’s pretty damn awesome.

When you just want to make something simple, quick, and delicious, what do you prepare?

Pasta is always quick and easy. Great to share with company and quick which means I don’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen and can join the party.

Meet Cheffie. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.comIf you were to invite a famous person to your house for a meal (any meal) — who would it be, what would you prepare, and why?

Nelson Mandela, great man. He has always inspired me, and is a great loss to us all. I believe he had a bit of a sweet tooth, so I would make an Aussie pavlova and I have a great chocolate coffee mousse I’d like him to try too.

What is your fave breakfast?

I rarely eat breakfast but know that’s not a particularly good way to start the day. Bircher Muesli is always great. I prefer poached eggs to fried, and you just can’t beat bacon!

Meet Cheffie. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.comDo you do the cooking at home?

In the early days I was rarely at home (always at work) and the wife did everything! I am home a lot more these days and yes, I do most of the cooking. Although the kids still prefer their mum’s cooking over mine.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

It would be particularly helpful to have a superpower that would tell me how many vegetarians, vegans, coeliac etc. will be attending functions, semms many only realise their dietary requirements after they have been served what everyone else is having!

Paul’s dedication to his craft extends beyond his role at the Press Club. He has his own catering business called Chef at Home, is the President of the Chef’s Network, he’s taught at the Canberra Institute of Technology, and in 2009 was named The Australian Culinary Federation Industry Icon. BOOM!!!

Cheffie is one of the best people I know, word on the street is he can whip a cloth out from a set table (full James Bond style) leaving the crockery and cutlery where it stood. Now I’ve not seen it happen, but I believe this claim to be true.  He is a teacher, trainer, mentor, advisor (sometimes counsellor) and inspires the NPCA team to be great.

I’d love to know, what is your favourite breakfast? 

Ready to take this relationship to the next level?

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shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

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Eileen | The Food Avenue - February 7, 2016 Reply

Great idea for a series! That was really interesting. Cheffie sounds like a stand up guy.

    Anna - February 7, 2016 Reply

    Glad you enjoyed and yes… Cheffie is one of the COOLEST, most fabulous peeps I know. 🙂

Lauren - February 6, 2016 Reply

I love the concept of these chef interviews Anna! Funny to hear about Nelson Mandela’s sweet tooth, that coffee chocolate mousse sounds divine!

    Anna - February 6, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Lauren, I am so pleased people enjoy the chef interviews. 🙂 I am one lucky kid being able to eat Cheffies food often, because dang its gooooooood!

Serina aka Ms Frugal Ears - February 6, 2016 Reply

I laughed at the super powers response! Thank you for introducing me to Cheffie. I look forward to your other chef profiles. I am sure they will be fun and fabulous.

    Anna - February 6, 2016 Reply

    Haha…. Cheffie is a hoot. 🙂 Glad you got a giggle out of the post too. I have shared other awesome chef profiles, but I think it is time I do another.

Lauren - February 6, 2016 Reply

I love the idea behind this series and am looking forward to more of them! Who knew Nelson Mandela had a sweet tooth!

    Anna - February 6, 2016 Reply

    Why thank ya Lauren! I have a bunch of chef profiles to share, but haven’t got around to it yet. I will indeed get on sharing more of them. 🙂

Evelyne CulturEatz - February 6, 2016 Reply

Sounds like a cool dud indeed, loved the interview!

    Anna - February 6, 2016 Reply

    Cheffie is one of the most awesome people I know. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the interview.

Paula McInerney - February 5, 2016 Reply

I have heard of Cheffie, as I have a sister who is an events manager in Canberra. She forgot to tell me that he is such a fun personality.I could imagine working with him, would be a riot.

    Anna - February 6, 2016 Reply

    Noooooooo way! That is awesome, let the online stalk begin tracking down who your sister is, I wonder if I know her? And yes, Cheffie is a total legend, love him to bits I do. He does indeed make our team a lot of fun. 🙂

Krista - February 5, 2016 Reply

I love this interview! 🙂 Cheffie sounds like such a cool, down-to-earth person. I love his disaster stories. I instantly felt so much better about all the mess ups I’ve done. 🙂

    Anna - February 5, 2016 Reply

    Thanks my love! And yes, Cheffie is one of the BEST people I know, an amazing chef and all round tops bloke. 🙂
    Haha… He sure had a cracker of a time with his kitchen disasters. Lol! And all in a relatively short period of time too. Not sure I would have stuck it out like he did.

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Choc Chip Uru - April 16, 2014 Reply

Working with Cheffie must have been amazing 😀
Love the photo!

Choc Chip Uru

    Anna - April 16, 2014 Reply

    It really REALLY is… I am one of the luckiest gals around having the pleasure of working with such an amazingly cool boss. 🙂 Haha… Yep, its a beauty that pic of Cheffie as a 20 something. Thanks for stopping by Choc Chip Uru.

Lizzy (Good Things) - April 8, 2014 Reply

What a wonderful introduction! Thanks Anna… good to meet a fellow blogger too!

    Anna - April 8, 2014 Reply

    Hey Lizzy! Great to connect with you. Yep, our Cheffie is one of the best, a real legend. 🙂 We are super lucky to have the opportunity to work with such a great chef and well, person. 🙂

Dave - April 7, 2014 Reply

What a great read Anna. I’m lucky enough to know Paul well, and have even broken bread and sipped from the ice cold beer grail with him. A man of extraordinary talent and deadly wit.

Please send my regards to Chef, and we must gather around the urn of wisdom (beer taps) again soon.

Cheers! Dave.

    Anna - April 8, 2014 Reply

    Wowza Dave, what a lovely comment. 🙂 I read it out to Cheffie, he said to say ‘Cheers!’. Yep, lets get on the beer pronto, its been too bloody long.

Elias - March 26, 2014 Reply

Great story. Well done Anna!

    Anna - March 27, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Elias. 🙂

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - March 26, 2014 Reply

Hehe what a great interview! And I guess we never really look at functions the same way that chefs do. And great answer serving Nelson Mandela pavlova! I wonder if he ever tried one?

    Anna - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Thanks NQN! I know right re Cheffies super power, could come in handy in general actually. 🙂 If Nelson did get to try a pav, hopefully it was cooked by someone who used your recipe. You are after all the pav lady.

Amanda (@lambsearshoney) - March 26, 2014 Reply

Great list of questions there, Anna, especially the one about kitchen disasters. That’s quite the most disastrous day I think I’ve ever heard of – I’m surprised he didn’t get sacked!

    Anna - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Hmmm… Yes, me too. I forgot to ask what his punishment was for having such a shocker. I don’t imagine it was the kitchen was very pleasant for the Cheffie tho. 🙂

Mandy - The Complete Book - March 26, 2014 Reply

What an awesome man Cheffie is! How great that you are able to work with him Anna.
Have a beautiful day.
🙂 Mandy xo

    Anna - March 26, 2014 Reply

    I’m super lucky to be able to work with Cheffie, very inspiring. You have a rippa day too Mandy. Xx

Cheyny - March 26, 2014 Reply

I like it! All the best to him 😉

    Anna - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Cheers for stopping by Cheyny. Our Cheffie sure is awesome. 🙂

Hannah - March 26, 2014 Reply

What a statesman! Love the work Cheffie!

    Hannah - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Also… possibly the best photo ever! Thanks for sharing!

      Anna - March 26, 2014 Reply

      22yr old Cheffie! 🙂 It’s classic. I love that Cheffie allowed me to share it. Thanks for visiting Hannah. Appreciate your support muchly. Xx

    Anna - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Hahaha!! A statesman he is indeed. 🙂

Christopher - March 26, 2014 Reply

WOW…what a great article & I agree Anna ‘What a great Chef, man it has been my pleasure getting to know and working with Paul over the past 5 years.

Looking forward to your next interview!



    Anna - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Chris…. Our Cheffie sure is a champion. We are lucky to have him! 🙂

    Susan - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Absolutely agree with you Chris. Great blog Anna.

      Anna - March 26, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Mom! Xx

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