From pork knuckle to white truffle risotto, the InterContinental Sydney's Tamas Pamer really likes his food, well, except for skewered lizard…
Tamas Pamer is the Executive Chef at the InterContinental Sydney, famous for its afternoon teas and sumptuous seafood buffets in a grand old setting. Having worked around the world, including Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe, Tamas settled in Sydney and now heads up Café Opera at the five star hotel. Follow the hotel on Twitter: InterConSydney.
Where did you grow up?
“I was born in Budapest, Hungary but spent the majority of my childhood in Germany. “
When did you realise you wanted to be a chef?
“Growing up, I started helping mum in the kitchen when I was about 10 years old. In a family with three sons I was ‘in charge’ of helping mum cook whilst my brothers helped with other duties. I loved to accompany mum to the local food market, choose produce and later transform them into a meal. This was the best environment for me as it inspired me to become a chef. “
Is there one dish you still struggle to get right?
“As I was trained in Europe I didn’t get much exposure to authentic Chinese flavours. This was one of the main reasons why I wanted to come to this part of the world where we have access to fantastic Asian cuisine. “
What does it take to be a successful chef?
“You have to work very, very hard, expect long hours, believe in yourself and what you’re capable off, be disciplined and consistent but most importantly never forget to approach your work with a sense of humour. “
Worst job you have ever had?
“My first job in a Michelin-star restaurant. This was the first time I was exposed to a high level of French cuisine. French was also the main language used in the kitchen. With a very limited French vocabulary you can imagine that I was struggling.”
What is your signature dish?
“I have many dishes that I love to cook so it’s very difficult to choose just one. However, my favourite style of cooking is French cuisine combined with fresh local produce. “
What can people expect from your restaurant?
“French-inspired Australian cuisine with a personal touch. I like to be spontaneous in my cooking and the menu changes depending on what’s in season. We focus a lot on seafood and locally-sourced produce. “
What is unique about your restaurant?
“Located in the 1851 Treasury Building our main dining room, Café Opera, offers a majestic dining experience. It gives you a fantastic insight into Sydney’s historical past. The atmosphere is classic yet relaxed.”
What is the chef serving in heaven?
“White alba truffle risotto with slow-roasted oxtail and a glass of 1961 Château Mouton Rothschild. “
What is the most bizarre dish you have ever tried?
“When working in Mexico I tried skewered lizard. Tastes like chicken (like most strange things).”
What is one question people are always asking you?
“’Can you give me a hand in the kitchen?’”
What is your biggest food indulgence?
“Pork knuckle served with sauerkraut and a large glass of weissbier. This is best enjoyed on a relaxing, sunny Sunday afternoon.”
What flavours/ingredients are your favourite to work with?
“I don’t want to modify the produce too much but rather use the great flavours they already provide. A combination of two of three flavours is what makes my dishes shine. “
Which three people would to invite to a dinner party?
“My mum, twin brother and best friend Julianne. They all live in Europe so I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. “
What is your best tip for home cooks?
“Never give up! Try your recipes again and again and if it still doesn’t work out don’t be afraid to modify and put your own twist on it. “