Compass Group Australia is pleased to announce the appointment of Leander (Leo) Gstrein as our National Executive Chef. Originally from Austria and classically French trained, he marries his passion for provenance and local fare with his dynamic, innovative energy, creating memorable dining experiences for our guests and clients.
Leo has worked at the 2-hatted Luxury Hotel Schwarz, Michelin Restaurant Bibendum in London and the Michelin star, 3-hatted Superior Hotel Trofana Royal in Ischgel. Leo joined Compass Group Australia in 2012 as the Head Chef at Sydney Town Hall as part of the Restaurant Associates brand. Here he brought our event menus to life, championing our clients’ ideas and themes through food. But even with such an impressive culinary resume, Leo remains close to his roots.
Growing up on a farm in a small town in Austria, Leo’s dad is a butcher and chef and his mum was a restaurant manager, which meant hospitality and food was everywhere. Fascinated by the entire process from breeding animals to preparing a delicious dish and all that happens in-between, Leo is a firm believer in cherishing and respecting his ingredients. His memories as a child include family gathering together and enjoying a huge feast made from fresh produce from the local farmers.
With a deep appreciation for food, he doesn’t have a single favourite type of cuisine. In the beginning it used to be French and Austrian cuisines, but now it is hard to pick just one as each cuisine has its own distinct flavours and techniques which he loves to fuse together to create new and unique dishes.
Leo’s culinary ability to hero ingredients, showcase bold flavours and bring the dining experience to life has grown from his experience across the hotel and restaurant industries and from the different mentors he was able to work with such as Martin Sieberer Austria’s chef of the year 2005 and 2008’s Good Food Guide ‘Chef of the Year’ Sean Connelly.
He fondly remembers a key moment in his career, that took him to the next level:
“There was a moment where I gained my confidence from my experiences in the industry, working with some amazing chefs I was able to develop my own style from creation to plating. For me, plating is like a work of art and I really feel like I can express myself.
My mentors influenced me by showing me how to respect the produce I was working with, how to get the best out of my staff and how to ensure I could deliver consistency and quality. They solidified my endless passion for cooking. It fascinated me how they came up with their creations and the way they delighted customers with the food they put on the table.”
In his new role, Leo aims to not only tantalise the taste buds of his guests but make dining a whole sensory experience. His goal is to ignite the flame of passion for cooking with all the chefs across our business by using his experience to show them modern cooking techniques and lead them on a journey to offer clients new and exciting culinary experiences in the future.
Keep a lookout on social media for more of Leo’s dishes! @ra_australia
Panfried Glacier51 Toothfish, Tapioca Squid Ink Puff, Octopus Tendrils, Pickled Mussels, Saffron Foam, Nasturtium Leaves and Puree
Black Forest Dessert, White Chocolate Mousse, Raspberry Sorbet, Sour Cherries, Dehydrated Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Twigs, Cherry Gel, Edible Violets