Hats off to Borders-born chef who is making a stir abroad

St Boswells chef Sam Moore, winning culinary recognition in Australia
St Boswells chef Sam Moore, winning culinary recognition in Australia

A chef born and raised in the Borders is thought to be the youngest to be awarded with Two Hats by the prestigious Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG).

Sam Moore, 25, originally from Tweedbank, is the head chef at Room81, an Australian fine dining restaurant on The Gold Coast, Queensland.

The hat rating system in Australia by AGFG is similar to the Michelin Guide here in the UK, so to be awarded Two Hats is a big achievement.

However it was at home that Sam got the taste for cooking.

He said: “I worked for my dad’s company from a young age, probably the age of 12, just washing up and doing salad prep, then I gradually got given more responsibility.”

Sam’s father is Gary Moore, who now runs his own private, outside catering service, after a career spent in top restaurants.

At the age of 15, Sam left full time education and pursued his career in the restaurant industry.

“I started working at Prestonfield House in Edinburgh after leaving school,” Sam explained, “Where I did a lot of learning on the job and developed my skills in a top professional kitchen.”

After a few years of industry experience, Sam decided that he wanted to leave Scotland and work abroad.

He said: “A friend of mine at the time had been talking about going to work in Australia and at the time I thought why not?

“It took a couple of months to plan but when I was 19 I first went out to Australia with no plan of where I would work or anything I just wanted to see what was out there.”

Sam initially settled in Sydney where he worked in the kitchen of a Three Hat establishment for a few months before he started missing home.

“I’d been out in Australia for about three months when I started to get quite homesick,” Sam said.

“My dad persuaded me to stay for a year before thinking of coming back so I moved to Melbourne and started working there.

“Getting a job was just a case of knocking on the back door of restaurants and offering my services to them.”

After a series of other positions, Sam joined the Sofitel hotel group and was soon promoted to head chef at their Broadbeach hotel on the Gold Coast.

He said: “When I first started at Room81 a couple of years ago, the restaurant in the hotel had One Hat.

“On January 1 this year it was announced that we had been put up to Two Hats so I was really thrilled.

“That night got we all went out and got quite drunk to celebrate all the hard work we’d put in.”

Becoming the head chef behind a Two Hatted kitchen by the age of 25 is quite an achievement and Sam puts his success down to great ingredients.

“I know that it’s not average to have got this far, so young but it takes a lot of hard work and determination,” he explained.

“I generally work 12-14 hour days but it doesn’t feel like work when you are doing something that you love.

“A lot of my menu inspiration comes from really good, local, seasonal ingredients. Sometimes I get the chance to go to farms in the area and see what looks good at the minute and I get people approaching me with produce so there is a lot to choose from.”

Despite already achieving so much, Sam isn’t content with stopping there.

He said: “I want to be a Three Hatted chef my the time I’m 30 so I’ve got five years to get to that point.

“To get to that level, it’s about more than just the food, it’s the whole dining experience.

“It comes down to things like the wine, the setting, the table linen but I’m determined to get there.

“I’d also really like to cook in Asia and America at some point because there are some amazing restaurants and hotels out there. As much as I enjoy coming home to visit, I don’t see myself living back in the Borders for a long time,”