In April 2022 the Victoria Racing Club announced a partnership with Crown managing the hospitality venues at Flemington Racecourse, the home of the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Filling the role of Executive Chef for some 30 venues across Flemington’s precinct and facilities, is well-seasoned Aussie Chef Josh Pelham.
It’s been a long and winding road to get here for the South Australian-born Chef who’s first childhood food memory was a “mind-blowing caramel popcorn”.
Cutting his teeth working in North Fitzroy’s two- hatted institution Matteo and with George Calombaris at Fenix, Pelham quickly realised that being a Chef was going to be his lifelong journey.
“I arrived in London with 500 pounds and knocked on the door of a restaurant called The Square (with very strong reputation for developing great chefs like Brett Graham and Scott Pickett). I went there with intention of being there for a year but found myself there for five years, working my way through the kitchens to the Sous Chef role.”
After leaving The Square, Pelham took an opportunity to move to France to work as Head Chef looking after five boutique chalets in Chamonix – a great opportunity for the rising culinary star.
“That led to a position aboard a super yacht in the south of France where I was cooking for international stars like Naomi Campbell, Simon Cowell, and famous Chef Thomas Keller.”
The encounter proved to be a game changer after Pelham slipped his CV into a copy of Keller’s cookbook that the legendary Chef had offered to sign for him.
“It got me a position at Keller’s The French Laundry where I learned so much. I developed a different philosophy on how to operate in the kitchen.”
On his return to Australia, Pelham worked as Head Chef at Scott Pickett’s Estelle followed by another stint with George Calombaris as Executive Chef at his Hellenic Hotel.
Realising he wanted to expand his horizons beyond the kitchen pass, Pelham took on the role of Executive Chef at the RACV’s Cape Schanck Resort in the Mornington Peninsula.
“In our first year, we received a chefs’ hat for the restaurant which had never been achieved before in that organisation.”
Now, after a short period as Executive Chef across Caulfield, Sandown and Mornington for the Melbourne Racing Club, Pelham accepted the role with Crown to be Executive Chef for the Victoria Racing Club.
“At VRC, I want to instil a more fresh and contemporary approach to dining. The focus is on the quality of the ingredients and the flavour. We are also looking to bring some fun and fresh new ideas to the retail side of the offering.”