Knight's Coffee & Tea, NSW

Knight With Shining Reputation Sure To Save You With His Coffee

Knight’s Coffee & Tea makes a big promise with their slogan, ‘Sublime Every Time’. 

But, headed up by major coffee fanatic and long-time hospitality industry worker Jake Knight, we think they might just be in with a chance.

He came prepared: Jake made his first coffee way back in high school, when he worked as a barista after class. He continued on working in cafes after graduation to save for his first overseas trip, and stuck with hospitality as he travelled through the UK and more. Upon his return, he began his three years of business school - but even still, Jake was making coffees. 

Working for two of Australia’s biggest coffee suppliers - Toby Estate, and Campos - Jake cut his teeth learning about not just the tastes, but the origins of the beans. By the time he was ready to start his own cafe, his education in how to supply his customers with a latte that was ‘sublime, every time’ was complete.

Knight’s Coffee & Tea opened their first store in Sydney’s Haymarket almost four years ago now. “I’ve always had an interest in hospitality,” says Jake. “My uncle was a chef, and I grew up around family who worked in restaurants and cafes.” He learnt from a young age, that it pays to find your passion, and pursue it - and for Jake, that passion was coffee.
But what he boasted in passion, he lacked in age and experience. “I was only 22 when I set up Haymarket,” says Jake, “And I was going into the banks, only for them to look at me like - ‘You’ve got no hope, mate’ - I was way too risky!”

But Silver Chef looked at Jake differently. He had already at that point spent five years working in the coffee industry, had worked for two major coffee houses, and had a business degree. His positive merits far outweighed any danger associated with his first-time-business-owner status.

According to Jake, Silver Chef just ‘got it’, and has been looking after him since day one, establishing a strong business relationship that continues almost five years later, and beyond.

I was going into the banks, only for them to look at me like - ‘You’ve got no hope, mate’ - I was way too risky!

“For younger people starting up small business,” explains Jake, “there is not as much capital or business history as someone older. Trying to buy all your equipment straight up is a daunting task, not to mention one that will put you in a huge amount of debt. Silver Chef caps your payments as well, so there’s no surprises, and a real safety net in your first year of business.”

The first year of business for Knight’s Coffee & Tea was successful, but not without its challenges. Jake calls it his ‘big learning curve’, and is still surprised at how the different the end result was from his original expectations. “It was so great having that stability, like at the end of 12 months, being able to ask - did we actually need that small piece of equipment? No? Let’s give it back.”

At not even 30, Jake Knight knows how it feels to open a business as a young person. He said one of his biggest challenges was overcoming the common perception of the big banks being the ‘trusted’ option. The big lending organisations, as Jake points out, are working across multiple industries, and do not have a focus on hospitality alone.

“People have a fear about not going with the big banks. They have a fear with the smaller companies that there will be something nasty in the contract. But Silver Chef really gets the idea”, says Jake, “Things change, you might want to upgrade, it won’t always stay the same. Silver Chef know what you need.”

Having survived the tough world of small business from a young age, Jake is extremely encouraging to others who might be considering doing the same. 

With a caveat, of course - “It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!” Jake warns with a laugh. “I was always tied to the performance of the business. When it did well, I was elated - when it did badly, I would be shattered. I think the mood swings were tougher on my girlfriend than anyone else!”

With a clear passion for what he does, and the flexibility of Silver Chef acting as his business partner-in-crime, we look forward to Knights Coffee & Tea number three opening soon with that same promise - sublime, every time.

Jake Knight
Knight's Coffee & Tea, NSW
Greenhive Kitchen, QLD

Greenhive Kitchen Finds The Silver Lining With The Help Of Silver Chef

“Pretty much everything happens for a reason, and now I know why that happened to me.” 

Every business start-up has an amazing story behind it. People leave whole careers behind, punt all of their life savings, and bravely step into the unknown for little more than passion and love of the game.

However, it’s fair to say that Maria Faalafi has had a journey a little more exceptional than most. Several years ago, Maria found herself in the hospital emergency room, crippled with severe migraines and digestive issues. 

After years and years in pain, she had also begun to suffer panic attacks and depression that were so bad she was forced to quit her job as an engineering drafter and spend most of her time bedridden. And as they say, when it rains, it pours: around the time Maria left her role, her husband lost his carpentry job also, leaving them with a mortgage, health costs, and an uncertain future.

But, as it often does, food came to the rescue.

Maria took her health into her own hands and decided to completely change her diet. With experimentation and research, she came to realise she was suffering a severe gluten intolerance and hyperglycaemia, both conditions that are managed with major dietary changes.

It was this newfound expertise with clean, organic food that inspired Maria and her husband to open up a cafe in Brisbane’s West End. But as they set up a commercial kitchen to prepare the food (and comply with the stringent commercial food prep laws) they realised another, more exciting, concept had emerged: a commercial kitchen for rent. 

“I wanted to trial our (cafe) product before opening anything,” explains Maria. “...and I thought maybe I can rent out our kitchen to other people like me.”

“But we actually realised that the commercial kitchen was more of what we wanted to do.”

And so The Greenhive Kitchen (previously Green Bee Organics) was born.

It would have been too hard for us otherwise. Silver Chef made it possible for us to start.

The concept took off with an unexpected rate of success, so much so, that Maria is moving the business from West End to a larger St Lucia venue that can host three times the amount of renters. 

And all of this was made possible with the help of Silver Chef.

“I used Silver Chef to rent pretty much all of the equipment in the initial set-up,” says Maria. “And then I bought some of it off, and now I am renting again. Everytime I need new equipment, I go through Silver Chef.”

“It would have been too hard for us otherwise. Silver Chef made it possible for us to start.”

To date, Maria has purchased a six burner cooktop, secondhand planetary mixer, six tray self-cooking centre, blast chiller freezer, undercounter dishwasher, two burner cooktop on stand and a food processor. Still on rent is the stainless steel bench, secondhand bowl cutter, a second single door upright freezer and a secondhand vacuum sealer. 

As her offering evolved, Maria has also taken advantage of the easy Silver Chef return policy, opting to give back her vegetable cutting machine, secondhand single door upright freezer, and glass cake display.

From cooking classes to small Australian start-ups who can’t afford a full commercial kitchen, Maria sees the success of The Greenhive Kitchen in it’s flexible nature.

“It’s probably one third cooking classes, one third wholesalers, and one third people trying out going to market,” says Maria, noting that the ability to ‘try before you buy’ is a blessing for anyone wanting to road test their concepts before launching to market. 

Looking forward to the future, Maria sees the Greenhive Kitchen concept growing. 

“We are starting renovations in about a week, and are looking to move in a month or so.” Will she be using Silver Chef into the future? “Absolutely!”

Silver Chef is exceptionally proud to have partnered with Maria, and we are so excited to see what’s next for Greenhive Kitchen. Another great reminder of how we can turn dreams into reality, or in this case, turn a whole life around.

Maria Faalafi
Greenhive Kitchen, QLD
Twelve Boar, QLD

Twelve Boar takes Aussie takeaway to smoky new places

In a country passionately dedicated to their prized fish and chips, it took one very brave American to crack the take-away market with something wonderfully un-Australian.

Richard ‘Rick’ Palesh has been in Australia for eight years now, and observes with a dry wit the historical love we have for old fashioned fish’n’chips, and in more recent years, the kebab. In his new home of Cleveland, QLD, there are a staggering ten takeaway fish and chip shops alone: it’s would be an understatement to say it is the Friday night food of choice.

And yet, in recent years, Rick began to notice a shift in Australian food trends, with the introduction of traditional American ‘diner style’ and Southern comfort food to our shores. American burger shops, smoked meat houses, and grills started popping up in the urban centres - but something was missing. 

“I noticed that all of these people opening up American food joints were actually Australian,” notes Rick. “And that flavour was missing something.”

And that something was actual, first-hand knowledge of the American style of cooking. 

Armed with a passion for American cuisine, and a lifetime of knowledge behind his native country’s food and flavours, Rick set about opening up ‘Twelve Boar’ American Smoked BBQ House in Cleveland.

As a former engineer, this is Rick’s first foray into the world of food and hospitality. It came as a rude shock when he first approached the banks for a loan - only to be met with a resounding ‘no’. Rather than agree to a loan against the hordes of expensive equipment Rick would be buying, the banks pointed out that “an oven means nothing to us!” 

Unable to raise the cash needed for the banks to match the loan, Rick met with his equipment distributor, Food Strategy. For the distributor, the solution was simple: go with Silver Chef. Once Rick made that first phone call to the team at Silver Chef, he didn’t look back.

With his wife and business partner Beth, Rick was able to secure all of the equipment and finance he required to get Twelve Boar up and running. As he says, Silver Chef was not like a loan, and more of a business partnership.

“Sure the banks can give you money,” says Rick, “but Silver Chef is a business partnership. They bear the weight on my behalf - like, if there was something I didn’t use, and had to return in, that is something Silver Chef would deal with. They’re not a bank. Silver Chef is constantly enquiring if we need anything, and they really care about the business.”

Not only were we able to get Rick up and running, we were able to do quickly as well. “Silver Chef was the quickest. With the banks I had to actually go in, sign papers, and wait for up to 4 weeks for a response. When I was looking for extended credit, all I had to do with Silver Chef was apply online and i had a verdict within 24 hours.”

Silver Chef is a business partnership. They bear the weight on my behalf - like, if there was something I didn’t use, and had to return in, that is something Silver Chef would deal with. They’re not a bank.

In April 13, 2015, Twelve Boar opened its doors, and has seen a prosperous and exciting year since. Cleveland is a notoriously quiet suburb of Brisbane, with its seaside location and mild weather attracting retirees and young families. Not exactly the right demographic to be trying out exotic new cuisines - however, via strength and persistence (and some damn good food), Rick has won them over and his business continues to grow.

The equipment Rick required and has subsequently hired through Silver Chef is extremely specific to his style of cooking - there are slow cookers, deep fryers, and of course, his prized Alto Shaam Slow Cook, Hold and Smoker Oven - well, two of them, actually. 

Since opening, Rick has also upgraded and swapped out several items.
“We were recommended certain equipment, but as we started, we realised we needed something else,” says Rick, who has also added on additional items - like an extra fryer - to keep up with growing demand. 

Rick assures all prospective hospitality business owners that there is no way to know what you will need for your business prior to actually starting - putting emphasis on the importance of the Silver Chef flexibility to return and/or upgrade equipment.

“Each restaurant is a specific genre,” says Rick, “And in time you realise there is something more you need. We spent a lot of money getting started, and there’s no way we would have had the $8,000 for a new fryer when we realised that’s what we needed a few months in.”

Rick and Beth returned their Blue Seal 4 burner gas oven range with static oven and later got a Blue Seal 600mm single pan fryer. 

“It was so easy! We literally just gave the oven back, paid a deposit for the new fryer, and got the new equipment. There is always something, as you refine your kitchen over time, you will figure out you either don’t need, or is missing.”

So, what’s in a name? Wanting to break free of the single-word brands like ‘Grilled’, Rick worked to create a name that would be easy to remember, and evocative of the all-American style food he was creating. ‘Twelve Boar’ therefore came about from the intensive 12-hour smoking process that is used overnight to create the juicy and tasty pork, beef, and brisket he serves.

If your mouth is watering, then make sure you get to Cleveland to sample some of his delicious menu, including pulled pork and slaw burgers, buffalo wings, and beer battered onion rings. And if you’re not a local, fear not - Rick has plans in 2016 to open another branch. But until then, he’s working on getting that true American flavour just right.

Richard Palesh
Twelve Boar, QLD
The Red Velvet Lounge, TAS

Tassie Cafe Proves Anything Is Possible

There’s something special about country cafes. With the unique personality and home-made freshness that only a small business can provide, The Red Velvet Lounge welcomes you from first sight. 

Nestled into the lush countryside of Cygnet, around 55 km from Hobart, The Red Velvet Lounge sits snugly between the picturesque mountain ranges and quiet streets of the small town. Famous for its cakes, biscuits, and sourdough bread, The Red Velvet Lounge is famous among locals and visitors alike - which, considering its recent turn of events, is nothing short of remarkable.

In November of 2014, the historic 100-year old building tragically caught fire, and was burnt to the ground. Believed to have started in the kitchen and spreading quickly to their famous dining area, both investigators and insurance companies couldn’t offer much further explanation for the fire than this: it was just damn unlucky.

Owner Steve Cumper was devastated. The kitchen - the heart of his iconic restaurant and cafe - was destroyed. His dining area was unusable. He was losing money by the day as his bills ticked over. But worst of all, his insurance policy didn’t even come close to covering the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage the fire had caused.

“At this point, I thought the fire was a sign to pull up stumps,” says Steve, a hospitality veteran of over 30 years. “But we had such an overwhelming response from the broader community who organised a fundraiser.”

“Attending were a whole lot of industry people and organisations who banded together to raise $35,000. And that really steeled our resolve to get up and keep trying.”

Among the people to hoist Steve and his staff back into business was Silver Chef. Already a loyal customer of the Silver Chef brand, the equipment lost in the fire had only just been paid off for full ownership by Steve a short time earlier. “I contacted Silver Chef,” remembers Steve, “with a ‘Wish List’ and a ‘Reality List’. Luckily, they were able to help me with both.” Indeed, the existing relationship between Silver Chef and Steve meant that replacing his kitchen was as easy as a phone call.

To preserve his cash flow, Mr Cumper decided to rent nearly $90,000 worth of kitchen equipment and stainless steel benches through Silver Chef, rather than buying it outright.
“I was working to an incredibly tight budget and didn’t want to tie up what cash I did have in expensive kitchen equipment,” says Mr Cumper, whose wages bill alone is about $300,000 a year.
“The ability to get the equipment you want immediately without having to outlay a shed-load of cash is very attractive; renting the equipment off balance sheet was a no-brainer.”
Silver Chef’s willingness to fund new and used equipment also helped The Red Velvet Lounge keep its costs down. With an incredible $75,000 loan from the government, Steve had only a small gap to cover when it came to setting up a new and renovated kitchen. 

The ability to get the equipment you want immediately without having to outlay a shed-load of cash is very attractive; renting the equipment off balance sheet was a no-brainer.

On Saturday evenings, The Red Velvet Lounge transformed from a cafe into a fully-fledged restaurant, and the kitchen reflected this versatility. Almost everything prior to the fire was from brand ‘Simply Stainless’ - four work benches, dishwasher, sink benches and gantry.

Following the fire, The Red Velvet Lounge saw a whole new kitchen installed. The combination of new and second hand equipment now included exciting new options like a Robot Coupe ice cream machine and Henkleman vac packer. In addition to restocking the essentials, Steve also chose to add in a new Expobar coffee machine and versatile Mecnosud spiral mixer. His new kitchen was complete.

Steve Cumper is no stranger to the perils of the hospitality industry. Starting out at the tender age of 16, Steve overcame many hurdles to win the successful name he currently has in the Australian food and beverage industry. He was the winner of Country Style magazine's first ever National Country Chef of the Year award, and the iconic The Red Velvet Lounge was even included in a 2014 issue of the Wall Street Journal. 

When asked what ‘Plan B’ was if the cafe could not be rebuilt, Steve laughs. “There was no Plan B. I’ve got very strong views, and I don’t think I could work for anyone else. I have extremely high standards, and I’m not prepared to compromise those things.” He cheekily adds, “The only real back up plan was for me to go back to male modelling.” 

And it was this determination and passion for his work that has seen Steve rise from strength to strength since the reopening of The Red Velvet Lounge earlier this year.

One cannot help but marvel at the highly responsive and innovative era businesses are lucky enough to operate in these days. It was not long ago that losing your business meant, well, losing your business. To watch your building burn to the ground spelt the end of the road for many, as raising the cash to rebuild would have taken years.

In 2015, however, response time is the basis on which so many companies are growing their offering. Silver Chef knows that every moment spent waiting is an opportunity lost, a customer not served, and another cost incurred. So it is our goal to allow our clients to have their business operating as best it can, as soon as it can.

Steve Cumper agrees. “The nature of lending money has changed over the years. Quite frankly, people could not have found the spaces in between established commercial markets to find, purchase and create a new market.” As Steve has shown, by having the right equipment, at the right time, everyone is a contender - regardless of difficult circumstances.

So, we asked - how would you describe the new and improved Red Velvet Lounge? Steve says the refurbishment has allowed him to replace an “idiosyncratic space that had patinas of interest layered over the years” with a more appealing one.
“It’s a beautiful space—it’s lofty, airy, light, warm and the same bonhomie we were noted for is still in the bricks—that’s going nowhere.”
Also unchanged will be the “frocked-up yet unpretentious” country food for which The Red Velvet Lounge is famous, including its Nanna-style cakes—“think upside down quince cake with custard”.

Sounds very, very inviting to us.

Steve Cumper
The Red Velvet Lounge, TAS
The Grounds of Alexandria, NSW

From The Grounds Up: Sky's The Limit For This Inner-Sydney Eatery

When it comes to Aussie landmarks, it’s unlikely that you would think of a former pie factory in Sydney’s inner-east. However, The Grounds of Alexandria is fast becoming an Australian icon in its own right having taking out fifth spot in Instagram’s most tagged destinations - against the likes of Uluru, The Opera House, and Great Barrier Reef.   

Quickly weaving itself into the fabric (and hearts) of inner-Sydney, The Grounds has developed a loyal cult-like following since first opening its doors in 2012, and has continued to entice hundreds of new and existing customers each and every week.

The initial concept of The Grounds was born from entrepreneurial duo Jack Hanna and Ramzey Choker who had a vision to turn the then industrial concrete car park into a thriving urban sanctuary, designed as a welcoming space to bring people together.

“We wanted to create a place where everyone gets together and stays, rather than just eating and leaving,” Jack explained. 

“In the early days, we started by just servicing the workers in the area. We had no idea it would turn into something so much bigger.”

Built on the philosophy of creating experiences for communities through quality products, innovations and an ever-evolving vision, The Grounds houses a café, a bakery, a florist, markets, coffee roaster, and private function spaces all artfully designed to make you feel at home.

Silver Chef Marketing and Sales Manager, Kevin Savvas, said part of The Grounds’ enormous success has been their ability to create multiple-revenue streams and constantly evolve their offering. 

“Multiple revenue streams are important in hospitality as food trends and technology are constantly changing,” Kevin said. 

“It’s means not putting all of your eggs in one basket, and creating a buffer that supports the cyclical nature of doing business. When one area of the business may start to under-perform, the other revenue streams or product offerings can help prop up the business.”

Susie Leonard, Managing Director of Cater Shop, first met Ramzey back in 2005 when he owned Rocket, a chain of sandwich and juice bars, and has maintained a strong, close relationship since then. 

We regularly look to upgrade our offering and Silver Chef’s flexible Rent-Try-Buy product options have allowed us to do that.

When she heard about their plan of The Grounds and that their needs would be ever-changing as they grew and added new sections, she knew Silver Chef was the best option for the entrepreneurial pair.

“It’s so important for us to take a holistic approach for our customers, and find the right fit for them. We provide so much more than just supplying equipment, it’s a relationship.

“In order for The Grounds to grow and evolve their business, and keep their offering unique and interesting, Jack and Ramzey needed the flexibility to add new equipment easily and efficiently as they grew, without causing huge disruptions to their cash flow,” Susie said.

“Silver Chef’s Rent-Try-Buy® flexibility was an obvious choice.”

Jack Hanna said working with Silver Chef has allowed them to constantly reinvent themselves without wasting money on depreciating assets every time they want to mix things up.

“We regularly look to upgrade our offering and Silver Chef’s flexible Rent-Try-Buy product options have allowed us to do that,” Jack said.

“It’s also allowed us to free up some additional cash flow so we can focus on expanding the business and exploring our experiential side.”

The Grounds entered new territory last year, decamping from their heritage-listed warehouse space to bring their wholesome food and quality coffee philosophy to Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi. 

But this was no portable food truck. The team worked tirelessly to build a temporary tree-house café overlooking the coastline with a huge amount of attention to detail, such as grass specifically grown for its roof in the six months leading up to the install. The end result was something J.R.R. Tolkien’s dreams are made of. 

“As with everything we do at The Grounds, we wanted The Grounds by the Sea to be engaging and fun, with a focus on creating a memorable experience for every guest who passed through,” he said.

“It enabled us to directly connect with the Eastern Suburbs community and engage face-to-face with residents. The positive response we received from the local community was absolutely overwhelming. 

“We had over half a million people pass through our doors over the three-week exhibition, so you can imagine we really put our equipment to the test. Silver Chef supplied us with coffee and blending machines that stood up to the challenge.”

Having hit it out of the park with the Sculpture pop-up, the Grounds team are keen to do more pop-ups in the future. So what can you expect to see from The Grounds this year?

"The sky is the limit for The Grounds. We have some new exciting projects happening later this year, so watch this space."

Jack Hanna
The Grounds of Alexandria, NSW
Pineapple Express, QLD

Trendy Brisbane Eatery Pineapple Express Takes Modern Approach To Hospitality

Pineapple Express are onto a good thing.

The Brisbane eatery are a cafe with “...a special emphasis on superfoods, and everything that is ‘good for your insides’”. An on-trend concept based out of an even trendier location - the booming Portside precinct - it is hard to imagine this concept ever doing poorly. Cleverly leveraging the current paleo, vegan, and exotic food trend sweeping the Australian food and beverage industry, this small cafe is attracting big attention.

Some people are made for hospitality. And listening to 34-year-old owner and director of Pineapple Express Leigh Metzeling talk about his experience, you can tell that he’s one of those guys. His CV reads like a dream in hospitality management. This guy has literally covered all territory. 

He started out taking ‘hospitality’ as a vocational subject during his school year, before moving on to a chef’s apprenticeship at The Hilton, eventually switching to a degree in Hotel Management (““It was too intense in the kitchen!”). And thrown in just for good measure? A tertiary BA in Business, Advertising and Marketing.

From scrubbing pots to scribbling slogans, Leigh knows the hospitality industry inside out. “You get to know what works in the business,” laughs Leigh. “You get to know what areas to put together. You’ve got the cogs - like the kitchen, the stock, the equipment - and then the front of house, which is the people.” 

But for hospitality veteran Leigh, the Silver Chef solution was a recent discovery.

Leigh is still happily surprised at what an excellent business partner they have made. “It would have been so tough without Silver Chef,” says Leigh. “It’s a total ease of burden, and made the equipment side of things so easy.”

Leigh is one of five directors in the Pineapple Express cafe, and also runs two other venues - Capulet bar in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, and SASS Management on the Gold Coast. A smart investor with plenty of experience, he had no trouble launching his business through traditional methods. With a strong business history, he was approved for a traditional bank loan from the start.

It would have been so tough without Silver Chef. It’s a total ease of burden, and made the equipment side of things so easy.

Along with the bank loan, Pineapple Express also got a kick-start from the partner’s private savings to cover the purchase and building costs. But when it came to the fit out of the equipment, they were looking for a more innovative solution than simply shelling out their own cash. It was then that their building team, Tu Projects Brisbane, told Leigh about the Silver Chef offer. Not just a perfect lender for those looking to start their own business, Silver Chef also caters for successful businesses simply looking for a smart alternative for their equipment lending. 

“Silver Chef is a great option for us,” notes Leigh. “There is a base payment per week, and we didn’t need to pay it all upfront. The guys at Tu Project just said, here is what you need, and here’s where you should get it.”

Following Tu Project’s advice, Leigh called Silver Chef, and was approved on the spot. Within a week, his equipment arrived, and Pineapple Express opened its doors to Brisbane’s healthy army of green-smoothie enthusiasts. 

So for a successful young entrepreneur like Leigh, it is the flexibility and total commitment to his equipment that was the primary attraction to Silver Chef. “If something breaks down,” says Leigh, “there’s a solution to the problem. You don’t have to wait.” 

More importantly, he was able to order exactly the equipment he was wanting, without having to settle for a replacement brand or model. In fact, Leigh opted for an end-to-end fit-out – from benching, sinks, juicers, blenders, shelving, microwave, ice machine, display cabinet, dishwashers, fridges, ice makers and chiller freezers, he went with Silver Chef for it all. 

As one of five partners in the Pineapple Express venture, Leigh loves the community feel to the management team. “We all bring skills to the table,” he says. Silver Chef understands modern business is all about supporting collaborative ownership - and it is therefore exciting to watch this group of young friends work together to launch their dream cafe.

It’s an exciting new world for small businesses. It’s easier than ever to turn your dreams into a bricks-and-mortar reality. The innovation of Silver Chef works off exactly that premise - this is 2016, not 1966! There are smarter ways to get your business off the ground that just setting yourself back into deep debt.

We’ve been around providing Australians with hospitality equipment for 30 years. That’s three decades of dedicating ourselves to understanding how we can help those specifically in the hospitality industry. We like to believe that we’re the perfect business partner to young guns like Leigh Metzeling, and can’t wait to see what he - we! - are doing next.

Leigh Metzeling
Pineapple Express, QLD
Noosa Boathouse, QLD

The Master of Reinvention Phil Bradford Takes on Noosa Institution with Silver Chef 

​Noosa Boathouse owner Phil Bradford is a veteran of the Australian hotel and hospitality industry. 

His impressive resume is an exciting - albeit exhausting! -  journey through hotels, restaurants, and management; a worldwide journey that took him everywhere from Ayers Rock to the chilly streets of London.

Now the owner and director of one of Noosa’s local institutions, The Boathouse, Phil has added another feather to his hat with the extensive renovations on the waterfront venue. With a stylish rooftop bar, huge function space, and trendy coffee shop; the Noosa Boathouse feels brand new thanks to the midas touch of Phil Bradford.

But all stories must have a beginning, and for Phil, that was in a Darwin fish and chip shop at the age of 13. Humble beginnings that taught him, from his teens, how a venue operates from the deep fryer up. By 15 he was working at a family friend’s restaurant, and by university he was working front of desk and as a porter for a Darwin hotel chain.

After he graduated, Phil headed to Indonesia, where he continued working for hotels. Having found his niche, the industry then swept him up on a 20 year whirlwind career, working in Ayers Rock, Hamilton Island, the UK, and Indonesia to name a few. In 2006, he felt that he needed a sea change, and worked for almost six years as the commercial manager for petroleum company OzFuel. 

This sea change wasn’t quite what he hoped for, however; the long stints in remote areas like Charleville and Cloncurry saw him miss his true passion - hospitality. By 2008, he was back in the game, and back by the sea. He purchased the original Noosa Boathouse from an old industry friend, and by 2013, was in the driver’s seat as owner and director.

In the years since, he has slowly but surely reworked the space to create a modern and exciting venue, with significant attention paid to the menu for the notoriously picky Noosa culinary crowd. And he couldn’t have done it without Silver Chef.

“I actually hadn’t heard about Silver Chef before The Boathouse,” says Phil, noting that in the massive scale of the hotel industry, all equipment and fit outs are generally purchased outright from the start. “It was a chef mate of mine who said: take my advice. Don’t buy it outright straight away. If it’s sizeable, trial it through Silver Chef first.”

After overseeing the opening of dozens of hotels worldwide over his 20+ years in the industry, Phil knew to be wary of rushing in and setting his plans in stone before first testing the market. Flexibility, he says, is always the key to pleasing your customer. From menus to layout, equipment to design, you must always be light on your feet and able to shift and move with your audience’s needs.


It was a chef mate of mine who said: take my advice. Don’t buy it outright straight away. If it’s sizeable, trial it through Silver Chef first.

“A lot of businesses go out and spend a lot of money on what they think they’ll need,” notes Phil, “and then it becomes redundant.” So, he decided to test out his new equipment over the 12-month rental period with the Silver Chef Rent-Try-Buy® system.

Different customers see different benefits to the Silver Chef solution, and for Phil, it had less to do with easing the cash flow issues with starting a new business, and more about trialling the right equipment for an untested concept.

“We had no issues with cash flow,” says Phil. “If I wanted to buy the product, I’ll buy the product.” He needed to test the equipment first - and money can’t buy that. Indeed, for experienced businessmen like Phil Bradford, Silver Chef acts as the innovative, flexible, and modern-thinking business partner behind the scenes.

It was the ease of mind, too: being able to bundle things together as one purchase, rather than sourcing individual deals. “For all our big ticket items we went through Silver Chef. We tested it out, 12 months ticked over, and we buy it outright with a big discount. Easy.”

Nowhere else will you have this kind of flexibility with equipment. To be able to ‘try before you buy’ is a rare opportunity, particularly with large scale, expensive pieces like Phil is currently hiring.

In his time with Silver Chef, Phil has clocked up an impressive worth of equipment rentals. He has used the Silver Chef system to test out large scale items such as a Moffat range 6 burner convection oven, a Skope undercounter chiller, and a Moffat griddle with stand. He has also purchased several items outright including their Electrolux combi oven and Eswood undercounter smartwash dishwasher.

After a lifetime in hospitality, Phil has a lot to offer when it comes to discussing upcoming trends in the food and beverage industry. “It’s come back a lot from the GFC,” he notes, saying that the immediate downturn following the financial crisis of 2007/2008 was a real blow to the hospitality business.

“These days, it’s all about good service. You must have value for money - that doesn’t mean it’s cheap - and you then must back it with service, and consistency. Consistency is the biggest thing.”

For a man who seen luxury hotels and restaurants come and go for the better part of 25 years, we think we’ll take his word for it.

Phil Bradford
Noosa Boathouse, QLD
Dezerts, NSW

Sweet Tooth Seachange For Dessert Lover Andrew

Once upon a time, Andrew Sharkawi was just another podiatry student with a killer sweet tooth. 

Along with his friend George Iskander, a pharmacist, Andrew was a die-hard dessert fan. The medical duo became the connoisseurs of where to find the best after dinner treats in Sydney, frequenting every cafe and restaurant they could find. In the end, they realised their sweet tooth was actually leading them somewhere more exciting than finding the best Nutella crepe in was to become their career.

Two years later, Andrew and George are the joint owners and managers of one of Sydney’s favourite dessert haunts, ‘Dezerts’, a two-level homage to all things chocolate coated with a cherry on top.

Dezerts is located in Sydney’s beachside suburb of Brighton Le Sands, and is a local favourite. They offer hearty breakfasts, burgers, coffees, smoothies, and of course, a dessert menu that will have you drooling. 

“George and I were constantly going out for desserts - mid week, weekends, everything!” explains Andrew. “Eventually we were like - why don’t we open our own dessert shop?” 

It was a massive career change for Andrew and George, but together, they combined contacts, business ideas, and their shared passion for chocolate, to get Dezerts off the ground. So how exactly did they make the leap from diagnosing foot disorders, to designing desserts?

“I’m pretty passionate about business, so is George,” says Andrew. “And so basically, we said ‘let’s just do it now’. We can recover ourselves should anything go wrong whilst we’re we took our idea and just ran with it.”

But little did they know they would be up and running as quickly as they were.

“We found a location, but they weren’t selling - so we made an offer, and they accepted. It all went really fast,” remembers Andrew, “we had three weeks from purchase to open our doors.”

At just 25-years-old, Andrew and George were quite young to take on the challenge of opening a small business, especially since neither of them came from hospitality backgrounds. But they used their ‘fresh set of eyes’ to their advantage, working hard to create a venue and a menu that would attract both a younger crowd and a family audience.

We called up, figured out we could get everything brand new and in one lump sum, so we signed up straight away.

“There are teenagers and young adults who are always out [in Brighton Le Sands] during the weekend and also during the week who aren’t just wanting dessert, but coffees, or a nice lunch,” explains Andrew. “We target families as well, with young kids - we made sure we had pram access, and a function room upstairs to cater for everyone.”

Their menu and their demographic was under control, but for these first time foodies, the setup was a little less straightforward. After releasing a rather aspirational food menu after a tastings session a few weeks out, Dezerts had a 15,000 strong following on Facebook - before they had even opened the doors! The pressure was on to live up to the hype.

“In the area of newly established business, a lot of people would bring up Silver Chef,” says Andrew. “It was like - go to Silver Chef, go to Silver Chef, go to Silver Chef. So we called up, figured out we could get everything brand new and in one lump sum, so we signed up straight away.”
The biggest drawcard for Andrew was being able to manage their cash flow. “Obviously, cash flow is essential in starting new business,” he says, “so having a payment that is minimal, as opposed to a lump sum cash flow that would destroy you in an emergency, was critical to us.”

With their kitchen sorted, 35 staff hired, and their Facebook following ballooning to more than 240,000 fans (wow!); Dezerts had one thing left to perfect: their desserts.

“These days, everyone eats with their eyes. So we cater for their eyes!” says Andrew. “We make it look so appealing: if it’s meant to be small, we double it or triple it - and suddenly, people are like ‘Aw, we gotta have this!’”

The Dezerts menu takes full advantage of the huge dessert trend sweeping the world at the moment - namely, supersized milkshakes, giant pancakes with homemade ice-cream, and golden waffles that are quite literally drenched in Nutella and chocolate. The bigger, the better. 

Their aesthetically-enticing desserts have won them a huge online following with whom they interact with on a daily basis. Whilst Andrew and George usually work from a remote office, popping in daily to check on their staff, they always make time to get onto the Dezerts Facebook page and have a chat with some of their customers.

But when it comes to imparting the greatest piece of wisdom he has learnt after two years in the hospitality trade, Andrew’s focus isn’t on his customers, or even the desserts he’s serving them: it’s his staff.

“Look after your staff, and they’ll look after your business,” says Andrew.

“They say, ‘look after your customers’, but if your staff are happy, they’ll look after your customers for you. If you don’t look after your staff, they will compromise your customer’s happiness, and in time, they will affect your business.”

Wise words from another great young Aussie entrepreneur paving the way in the new world of modern hospitality. And proof to all of us, that our relentless sweet tooth can offer us far more than just a hefty dentist bill - it can create a whole career!

Andrew Sharkawi
Dezerts - NSW

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