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Executive Chef Dylan Sanding

Executive Chef Dylan Sanding started his career 20 years ago at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) as 1st year apprentice. He says he was captivated back then by how amazing this iconic venue was, and what it means to so many people. Most recently he was the Executive Chef at the International Convention Centre Sydney, so coming back to Melbourne and being here for Round One was an instant highlight for him. The atmosphere is electric according to Chef Dylan. He loves seeing the fans roll in for the big games. He is also driven by seeing his team grow together, building a culture and seeing how bright the future is. Delaware North is very client focused and this chef and his team strive to deliver a great quality brand offering throughout the entire space of the MCG – from retail outlets to corporate dining and events.

Do you have a favourite time of the year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?

As autumn sets in, I eagerly await the arrival of persimmons. Introduced to me by my wife after we married, they have become a staple in our fruit bowl. Their versatility allows me to incorporate them into both savory and sweet dishes with ease. Winter sees me indulging in the tart goodness of rhubarb, often used in pies and chutneys. However, my ultimate winter favorite is the Jerusalem artichoke, also known as the sunchoke. Simply washed and roasted with garlic, thyme, and butter, it becomes a comforting delight. As spring arrives, I eagerly anticipate the arrival of asparagus. Its tender spears lend themselves beautifully to a variety of dishes, from plated meals to tarts and salads. And as a side dish, there’s nothing quite like asparagus tossed in burnt butter, lemon, and roasted hazelnuts.

What would you do if you weren’t a chef?

Against the doubts of others, I ventured into the world of culinary arts out of a spirit of rebellion, defying the wishes of someone who vehemently opposed my choice to become a chef. Since my teenage years, I’ve been drawn to various forms of art and design. Initially, photography intrigued me, but I found it too challenging to pursue. Instead, I delved into the realm of building design, nurturing dreams of becoming an architect or a draftsman for several years. However, fate had other plans. During my college years, I embarked on a work experience stint in a bustling commercial kitchen.

The frenetic energy of service and the camaraderie among the team captivated me instantly. I realized that creating dishes allowed me to stay true to my creative and artistic inclinations. The thought of enduring another 5-6 years of formal education seemed daunting; I was eager to roll up my sleeves and dive into the culinary world. In recent times, amidst the upheaval of the pandemic, my passion for photography has flourished. It has evolved into a cherished hobby, perhaps the silver lining in an otherwise challenging period. I’ve come to view photography much like crafting a well-executed dish—it requires attention to detail, a keen sense of color, tone, and texture, and above all, precision. Both endeavors fulfill my craving for creativity and expression, guiding me along an ever-evolving artistic journey.

 Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?

Absolutely, crafting a menu is indeed an art form, and it often begins with reflecting on your own preferences and those of your peers. After all, serving food that you wouldn’t enjoy yourself seems counter intuitive. Your approach of starting with what you and your team love to eat is a solid foundation for menu engineering.

Working at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with Delaware North provides a unique opportunity to design menus across various settings, from cafes and restaurants to corporate suites, event spaces, and retail areas. This diversity allows you to cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences while ensuring that each offering reflects your passion for delicious and satisfying cuisine. With your commitment to serving food that you and your team genuinely enjoy, you’re well-positioned to create menus that resonate with your customers and elevate their dining experiences at the MCG.


What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend currently?

The air fryer craze has certainly taken off, but I understand that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Sometimes, sticking to traditional cooking methods feels more comfortable and authentic. It’s perfectly okay to hold onto those traditions and resist the urge to jump on the latest kitchen gadget bandwagon.

After all, cooking is about more than just convenience—it’s about the process, the flavors, and the satisfaction of creating meals in your own way. So, if an air fryer doesn’t resonate with you, there’s no need to force it into your kitchen. Trust your instincts and continue enjoying your time-honored cooking methods.

 When are you happiest?

There are plenty of things that make me happy, first though is my family, seeing my children and spending time with them is fun. From a professional perspective what I most enjoy about the kitchen environment is the people, watching people grown and working together to achieve greatness makes me happy.

What is also important to me and makes me happy is focusing on the producer and farmers of our food, the ones that nourish, grow, and maintain a World Class product from Victoria. Getting to know them and understand them and showcasing their product on our menus.

When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found?

Mainly with my family, I can’t spend a lot of time with them but the time I do, I maximize the quality of time together. We would normally be outdoors, having day trips, trying new cafes/restaurants, taking photos, and watching the kids play sport. I have also enjoyed photography the last few years and like to get out and just shoot anything, it is relaxing and much less stressful than the kitchen.

Where is your favourite place to dine?
There’s a lot of nice places in Melbourne to dine, but honestly if there is a favourite it would have to be at a family members house on Dads side of family. Having a Filipino background, we know how to cook, eat the amazing food but we also celebrate it too. So, I have to say I could choose any household of my family to visit as my favourite place to dine, there is so much good food from Lumpia, Kare Kare, Lechon to Leche Flan and Halo Halo.

If I had to put on my culinary chef hat and wanted to dine out with my lovely wife and a few friends than Aru in Melbourne is probably the most recommended, the food is delicious, and the service is great too with a great atmosphere in the dining room.

What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?

I am a sucker for fried chicken, this is my ultimate weakness. It doesn’t matter what type if its Southern, Kaarage, tempura, crumbed, Korean even KFC, almost all fried chicken is good. As long as its hot, crispy, and juicy then you have a winner.

What makes the local food scene so exciting?

The Melbourne food scene is exciting because we are the capital of the best food and beverage in the country. There are some exciting restaurants opening, some exciting chefs in all Hospitality categories, just like my catering team, I have 35 Full time chefs and they are all energetic and have their own story. On our busiest day we can have up to 300 staff to deliver our functions, corporate boxes and 7 restaurants.

Our local scene in Melbourne is very collaborative and supportive, we want the small producer and farmer to also be advertised on our menus. Melbourne is a hub for hospitality people, we have such a large number of cuisines and I believe we have the best of most in our state.

Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why?
The dish that resonates the most which was a dish that was created for a specific event early in the year, and why I am most proud of it is because the dish stood for more then just a tasty plate of food. It showed our develop as a team, the understanding of our clients, the introduction to Australian Indigenous foods and a dish that was all Victorian, which is always our focus. The dish was “ Smoked Macedon Ranges duck, duck parfait, beetroots, wattle-seed, all berries & lemon verbena.

You’re having friends over for dinner tonight. What’s on the table?

Firstly, some good bread and some cured meats, some beautiful seafood to start. I am a sucker for Pork, because it is so versatile and can be cooked in many ways. But I love a porchetta, a cured belly that is rubbed with rosemary, garlic and fennel seeds, rolled up and roasted until its skin has crackled, served with a couple of beautiful sauces and mustards, with duck fat roasted potatoes and simple and seasonal garden salad. To finish wither some of my favourite cheese – Pyengana Cheddar, Le Conquernat Camembert, St Agur blue with all the usual trimmings or a simple Lemon tart with crème fraiche and a handful of raspberries.

Name your favourite city that has it all: food, culture, and nightlife.

There is a large majority of the world that I am still yet to see, but Singapore is my favourite. They are so polite, respectful, the city is clean and safe, and it feels like the city never dies. The Hawker markets and the BBQ are amazing, but you can’t go past the famous Hainanese chicken & rice.

Can you tell us more about the cuisine at your restaurants?

At the Melbourne Cricket Ground we are the biggest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, and an Iconic Australian venue that I am very humble to be the Executive Chef. We have 7 restaurants, 20 dining spaces, 118 Corporate suites, and this doesn’t include all our retail spaces around the venue. I don’t think we have a specific cuisine, but we have a philosophy “Victoria’s best, flavoured by Melbourne”, this focuses using Melbourne as our ‘cuisine’. Melbourne is a melting pot of many cuisines, its that many there isn’t a singular cuisine you can identify Melbourne with except for Modern Australia, because right now is as modern as you can get.

Why we also use Melbourne as our foundation in our menus is because we want to incorporate the main cuisines into our menu collection, only within 2km of kitchen we have some of the best cuisines in suburbs that surround the MCG. Victoria’s best is a search for a producer, big or small that produce not just a great Victorian product but also World Class, what better place to showcase a someone’s hard work than the biggest stage in Victoria.




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