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NMIT philosopher-chef eats his words

09 Jul 2012

"I'm not crazy - just crazy about cooking and the truth." - Gordon Gao Liu

Can you eat art? Gordon Gao Liu, a Diploma of Hospitality student at NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) not only believes you can - he's proving it with award-winning food that combines exquisite design, philosophical enquiry and culinary expertise.

“Poetry inspires food and visa-versa,” Gordon says. “Flavour and taste can be created as art the way pictures and music are.”

Gordon, who arrived in Australia from China in 2009, calls his style “Butler Cuisine”. The name reflects his ethos of putting the diner first, as he explains, “Butler Cuisine is molecular and fusion cuisine, along with medicine and nutrition analysis. There is a focus on human emotion, happiness and even evolution.”

Gordon, 24, from Sichuan Providence in China, studied philosophy in his home country before coming to Australia to study cookery. He completed a Certificate III in Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) at NMIT before beginning a diploma at the institute. He has carried his former studies into his cooking, with many dishes having philosophical underpinnings or accompanied by poems.

“My philosophy is not just to serve a great dish, it's to put the world into a dish. Delicious is not enough for a Butler dish; it needs to contain information, emotion and creativity. It needs balanced nutrition to assist the functions of the human body. It also focuses on the subconscious - nutrition and subconscious emotion are the two most important elements.”

The philosopher-chef is not only winning converts to his style, he's also winning competitions - a gold medal in the 2011 Australian TAFE Culinary Competition as well as a victory in the Victorian WorldSkills competition. His WorldSkills win means he will now represent Victoria at the national WorldSkills competition at the Sydney Showgrounds August 30 - September 1.

With his intricately constructed and themed dishes with names like “The sound of piano”, “Clown's fate”, “Buddhism enlightenment” and “Alice in wonderland”, it's no wonder Gordon's cooking is attracting the attention of food judges and industry professionals.

Andrew Shepherd, Chef Instructor at NMIT's Commercial Cookery Department, encouraged Gordon to compete in the WorldSkills competition and has been helping him train at NMIT's Preston Campus in preparation for the national competition. “Gordon's got that fundamental commitment. He has a great eye for detail, is quick to learn and his technical skills are superb,” says Andrew.

Gordon is keen to do well in the nationals. “Winning would be prestigious and provide further opportunities such as a chance to get into the Australian Culinary Federation National Team,” says Gordon. Success in Sydney would also mean Gordon would be eligible to compete in the 2013 WorldSkills International event in Leipzig, Germany.

“I focus on art more than science,” Gordon says. “Science is just one of the ways to achieve the goal of art. I'm not crazy - just crazy about cooking and the truth.”

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NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.