Joel Baylon has worked as head chef at Shobosho in Adelaide, was a junior sous-chef at Aru and, more recently, worked as head chef at Collingwood wine bar The Moon. So where do you go once you’ve conquered the moon? Castlemaine, of course.

Baylon is the new head chef at Love Shack Brewing Co, a brewpub about an hour-and-a-half’s drive from the big smoke.

“I’m just happy to be here, surrounded by nature with my little family,” he tells Broadsheet of working in the goldfields region. “I’m always persuading more mates to come up and join in on the great work-life balance that regional Victoria has to offer.”

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We spent five minutes with Baylon to hear about the seasonal ingredients he can’t wait to get a hold of and his plans for Love Shack.

Did you always think you'd work in culinary?
I’ve always wanted to cook but also wanted to be a lawyer – but I was never good at school. I think my home ec teacher, Mrs Hunter, was really the first person to show me how working in a commercial kitchen could be an actual job.

How would you describe your cooking?
I’m a seasonal kind of guy, with an emphasis on old-school culinary techniques. I like to create dishes where you ask yourself, “How did that work?”

What's the kitchen set-up like at Love Shack? What effect does it have on your creativity?
The setup is like every kitchen… functional. Size is just an environmental factor, so it really doesn’t affect my creativity at all. Just look at the kitchen in The Moon – small but mighty! At the same time, having more space for different food tech helps expand what is physically possible, like being able to fry multiple things at once, for example.

What are your ambitions for Love Shack?
I enjoy cooking good, wholesome food that is friendly and inclusive for all. I’m creating a menu that focuses on upscale bistro food that is memorable and nostalgic but also affordable.

What dishes and ingredients are you excited to introduce in the coming seasons?
Artichokes. Can’t wait to go hard on them.

What does it feel like to be back cooking in Castlemaine? How does it influence what you're making and your approach?
Cooking in Castlemaine is definitely different. You don’t have as much access to certain things as you would in the city, but the produce is second to none.

It’s quality over quantity, which is what I’m all about at heart.

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