At 34 years old, Troy Melia has been a chef for over half his life, and has wanted to be one for as long as he can remember. His parents tell him that he was always fascinated with food, even as a young kid, and that he was always helping in the kitchen.
Located in Perth, Melia is the Executive Chef at Matilda Bay Restaurant, located on the banks of the Swan River, overlooking the city with picturesque views. The restaurant was started by Warwick Lavis over 30 years ago, and Melia said that the staff understand there is something special about sharing food.
"If you haven't heard about Cray on the Bay, where have you been for 30 years? We utilise local fisheries annually and serve our whole Crayfish from the chargrill. The season is over for this year, but it will return in February next year. We also hold monthly Wine Dinners," said Melia.
Matilda Bay Restaurant offers guests a menu full of Mediterranean, with a touch of Middle Eastern, mixed with Modern Fusion. Melia has deep knowledge and experience in the meat industry, combining several drying and aging techniques.
Melia is currently working on making an in-house version of tuna mojama and duck prosciutto for the al carte menu. The restaurant also produces sausages and miniature goods, which he said he is excited about. He added that the one concern facing the restaurant sector is the need for more techniques practised in kitchens.
"No one breaks down their seafood or butchers their meat, bones, their chickens or ducks. It's a real shame that the next generation of chefs will likely only know their products from opening a box or a bag. There is also a massive lack of passionate young chefs coming though. Many newcomers to the industry are using it as a stopgap between studies or to get visas, and it will hamstring us in the not-too-distant future."
Having been a young head chef at 21, Melia knows what it takes to work your way to the top. He said aspiring chefs should be like a sponge and absorb as much knowledge and information as possible.
"I really want to focus on teaching and training my young team the art of small goods and meat production. I am lucky to have five eager apprentices under me, and I want to spend as much time with them sharing my skill set."
Outside of the kitchen, he and his wife have a young family with two kids and one on the way. A slip at work in 2019 saw a boning knife cut into his hand, putting him out of work for almost a year. At this moment, Melia realised that he had made the right choice to work in the industry and wouldn't change it for the world.