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17 May 2024

Meet the Sous Chef at Wildflower – Han Goh

I became a fan of Masterchef, mesmerized by the fancy techniques and amazing food offering

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and how/why you became a chef.

I’m from Malaysia and came to Perth to study when I was 17. I started out as a kitchen hand in a pub restaurant and quickly got bored. So, when a chef didn’t show up to work, I stepped up and never looked back.

I subsequently moved on to higher-end cafes and part-timed in a few Japanese restaurants. At the time, I became a fan of Masterchef, captivated and mesmerized by the fancy techniques and amazing food offerings. I knew then that I wanted to pursue this path seriously.

When I turned 30, I moved to Singapore and worked in some amazing restaurants, eventually ending up as the senior sous chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Malta. When the opportunity at Wildflower came along, I did not hesitate because, for me, coming back to Perth after all these years truly feels like coming full circle.

Tell us a bit about the style of food you create and your inspirations.

Over the course of my career, I learned precision from Lewis, minimalism from Alex, and hyper-locality and ostensible simplicity from Simon. All are amazing chefs in their own right and have very different approaches to food, but what they have in common is the pursuit of perfection.

I strive to create dishes that are deceptively simple, clean-looking, and yet pack maximum flavors that are delicately balanced. I also like to add some playful elements and use unorthodox pairings whenever possible because I believe that food, especially at the fine dining level, should be as delicious as it is thought-provoking.

Tell us about anything special or innovative you’ve done recently.

Coming from a French culinary background, every day I spend working at Wildflower is special. The exposure to various native ingredients that I didn’t even know existed is an incredible and humbling journey. I’m discovering wonderful and surprising ways of using and pairing these ingredients every day, and this is definitely pushing my culinary envelope and expanding my horizons.

What challenges do you see for the industry in the future?

The hospitality industry will inevitably confront challenges that come with climate change and the uneven distribution of resources, which are becoming increasingly pressing and apparent. I believe that to survive and thrive, we have to truly adopt sustainability and hyper-locality.

Furthermore, the people aspect of the industry has always been and probably always will be the biggest challenge for us. The food and beverage business is, in fact, a people business. So improving staff wellbeing and quality is crucial to any restaurant striving for excellence, especially in an industry with low entry requirements.

At the same time, how do we cater to the wants and needs of the guests while informing and educating them without unintentionally condescending or belittling them? We have a duty to pass on knowledge about food and nature, as well as raise awareness about the issues we’re facing in these regards.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning their hospitality journey?

Do a stagiaire in the best restaurant that you can get into for a week. It will allow you to see the good, the bad, and the ugly and make a judgment for yourself.

A hospitality job is definitely not for everyone, especially if you intend to make it an ongoing and fruitful career. So it’s important to know early on if it is suitable for you.

Once you’ve made up your mind, to paraphrase Gordon Ramsay, pack your pride away, work hard, listen carefully, and learn relentlessly. This is an industry where working hard will eventually pay off, but working smart simultaneously will get you there quicker and further.

Tell us about some of your career highlights/achievements.

I have been blessed to work with some brilliant chefs and amazing restaurants throughout my career. I joined Sommer Dining in January of 2021 as the opening team, and we got our first Michelin star in September. I subsequently left for Malta to join ION Harbour, where it was a one Michelin star establishment, and they were awarded their second Michelin Star last month, the first on the island.

While I appreciate the recognition from Michelin, it was the process of getting there, the camaraderie that we forged along the way, and watching the blood, sweat, and tears we devoted turn into numerous plates of amazing offerings on the guests’ tables that give me great satisfaction.

Every time a guest makes the effort to walk up to the pass and pay us compliments, it provides a tangible sense of reward and achievement.

What are some of your goals for the future?

I joined Wildflower during a transition phase. My team and I are finding our footing and direction and are now ready to take the restaurant to another level.

We’re grateful to be given the opportunity to work with and learn about native ingredients and culture, and we strive to honor them by creating the best-looking and most delicious food possible. This is an ongoing journey, and we’re having fun doing it.

I’m also looking for some collaboration opportunities around the world. It is important for us to keep learning new techniques, new ideas, and new approaches. And it helps to put the Wildflower name out there too.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Perth is a very isolated city, and while it has a lot of amazing offerings, it is not getting the recognition it deserves in my opinion. So I hope that through our work at Wildflower, we can get more people to know about Perth and hopefully pay Western Australia a visit, as I think it has some of the best natural and culinary scenery in the world.


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