Take a seat at any of Andrew McConnell’s restaurants and you’ll encounter the same distinct feelings: warmth, creativity and inclusiveness. This unmistakeable customer experience is cultivated through initiatives such as Kitchen Sessions, a fortnightly master class for the most promising young staff in McConnell’s kitchens.

As a young apprentice, the inspiration and mentorship of more experienced chefs had a big impact on Andrew McConnell’s career. With Kitchen Sessions, McConnell aims to inspire his young chefs by giving them the opportunity to learn from mentors they otherwise wouldn’t have access to, including: Tony Tan, Damian Pignolet and Janni Kyritsis, author of the kitchen bible Wild Weed Pie.

Oliver Shorthouse, General Manager for McConnell’s award-winning family of restaurants says, “For us, it’s not just about serving people and getting the job done. By inspiring and educating our employees, our end product becomes better. Kitchen Sessions impacts our cooking, our culture and our menu.”

Young chefs are given the opportunity to contribute to the menu by taking what they learn in class and creating new dishes. A recent visit from leading fromager Richard Thomas saw an array of cheese-based dishes integrated into menus, while master butcher Troy Wheeler shed light on a range of meats and how to use them to their full potential.

After kicking off at Cumulus Up last year, Kitchen Sessions classes now take place inside Cutler & Co’s newly renovated kitchen. Each guest brings recipes, stories and a unique food philosophy to share. After class, everyone sits down to enjoy the food while sharing knowledge and stories over a bottle of wine.

For Shorthouse, it’s about, “Creating a culture that we’re all a part of, and one that’s passed on to our customers.” For the young chefs it provides the mentorship and inspiration to grow. Just ask some of the group’s sous chefs or head chefs. Two years ago they were grinding away as chef de partie.

Having travelled far and wide to hone his own gastronomic skills, McConnell places great value on getting out of the office. Team field trips to farms, abattoirs, dairies and other suppliers are often pencilled into the calendar on top of the regular Kitchen Sessions.

It’s initiatives like these that give McConnell a reputation as one of hospitality’s best employers, and make places like Supernormal and Luxembourg Bar & Bistro such a great experience.

McConnell and his team are currently hiring on Broadsheet's new jobs website Scout. There are roles for apprentice chefs, a sous chef and more.

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