Guardian Childcare & Education

Cook in the Spotlight: Darwin from The Pavilion

26th July 2018

The Pavilion Early Learning Nutrition

The Pavilion, a newly re-opened early learning centre in the heart of the CBD, has been fully renovated to include the largest outdoor childcare centre yard in the CBD, a dedicated nursery, and a fantastic, state-of-the-art kitchen. Cooking up a storm in the kitchen at The Pavilion is Darwin, the onsite cook, who serves up four fresh and nutritionally balanced meals for the children daily.

We take a few minutes to find out more about Darwin, his approach to nutrition and some of the children’s favourite meals (they might not be what you expect!).

Tell us a bit about your career background.

I have previously worked at Quay, which is a three-hatted restaurant in Sydney. I have also worked in several venues in Sydney such as ICC, Kensington Street Social and David Jones Food Hall.

What made you decide to focus you career on nutrition at childcare?

I love cooking for my niece and nephews and wanted to experience something different for my career. I feel that generally the cuisine served in childcare centres needs to see some changes for a better and healthier future. I’m very passionate and plant-based foods, diet and nutrition.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that I can be creative with my menu. I love that I can also include the children in cooking experiences and share my passion with our next generation.

What challenges do you face in cooking for the young children and what are the significant differences between this and in-restaurant cooking?

The main challenge is trying to minimise the salt and sugar content and accommodating for various allergy and dietary requirements. I have been doing a lot of research of ingredient substitutes so the children can still have healthy and nutritionally balanced meals without compromising on flavour. Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland so I am currently trailing a range of different menu items.

The Pavilion Early Learning Nutrition

Children at the centre (L) and Darwin, the centre’s cook (R).

What meals have the children most enjoyed so far?

Pumpkin agnolotti, beef meatballs, lamb kofta, potato chowder, and beef stroganoff have been some of the favourites.

What has been your most memorable and funny kitchen moment?

The most memorable moments would have to be when the children finish the entire dish and no leftovers come back to the kitchen. That makes me feel so happy!

The funniest would be every time I visit the Nursery room at lunch and I see how much the children are enjoying their meal as it is everywhere. This always makes me have a laugh but also feel proud.

Why is there such a strong focus on serving children nutritionally balanced meals?

We focus on nutrition at our centre so our children can grow and develop into healthy young people and adults. Bringing awareness and knowledge around a healthy lifestyle from a young age so children can have this knowledge and awareness embedded for life is important to us.

Did you have a favourite meal as a child?

An Indonesian soup called Soto. It has macaroni and vegetables through it and is delicious. I have fond memories of eating this throughout my childhood.

Do you have a signature dish?

Strawberry avocado salad – it’s colourful and healthy. I am also known for my mushroom noodles.

What’s in store for the children at The Pavilion?

Growing our own vegetable and herb garden – I’m very excited to begin this!

Learn more about The Pavilion Early Learning Centre

To find out more about this newly reopened centre in the CBD and to book yourself in for a private tour, head here.


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