Life could’ve gone in a very different direction for Sean Hall. In his early 20s he was faced with a choice between playing rugby professionally or heading to culinary school. Today, lovers of premium steak and a fine dining experience breathe a sigh of relief the Executive Chef at 6HEAD, Sydney chose the latter.
Sean began his culinary journey growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa. Raised on the family’s cattle farm, he learned the importance of looking after the cattle, as well as how different beef raising and cooking techniques could impact the meat’s flavour. Family gatherings and celebrations always centred around food and good times; a tradition Sean continues today. Sean’s passion for food saw him move to the UK to complete his chef’s apprenticeship under the guidance of esteemed chefs Graham Harrower and Neil Dixon. He later began working with the Jamie Oliver Group in the UK, before crossing the seas yet again to continue working with the restaurant group in Australia. Fast forward to today and he’s also the head of culinary for the Seagrass Boutique Hospitality Group, overseeing seven brands across the country, including 6HEAD. The premium steakhouse overlooking Sydney Harbour features fresh, uncomplex dishes that allow the produce to speak for itself. In keeping with the signature ‘6HEAD’ theme, the painstakingly selected menu by Sean focuses on six cuts of steak; rib-eye, eye fillet, rump, T-bone and sirloin. Regardless of cut, Sean said it’s hard to go past the incredible flavour grain fed beef brings to the table.
“The flavours are intense and the marbling is much higher which creates a beautiful flavour and it’s 100 percent that flavour that our customers enjoy and expect,” he says.
“People come in expecting quite big flavours of beef and I think grain fed does that. We offer a variety of different types but we ensure that every product or steak we put on the plate is packed with flavour and you certainly never tire of people telling you that was the best steak they’ve ever had.” Over the past 12 months 6HEAD has made a concentrated effort to support Australian beef producers. Sustainability and ethical practices rank as two of the highest priorities the restaurant is looking for when partnering with beef suppliers, and Sean says it’s certainly been much easier to find in recent times.
“Over the last five years or so we’ve seen producers really put a lot of effort on smaller feedlots and ensuring their environmental impact is in balance with the amount of cattle they’re producing and that sustainability is very important to us,” he says.
“I often think that I’ve got the easy job. I cook the steak, whereas producers are doing the hard work to make sure the feedlot is run properly and the diets are done correctly to give that flavouring, so I think it’s really important to celebrate them and their hard work.” Sean enjoys regular visits to providers throughout the year and relishes sharing the story behind the product with both staff and customers. Now more than ever, he’s noticed an increased interest from consumers in where their food comes from. Prior to Sydney’s recent lockdown, Sean invited a regular beef supplier to share their life on a feedlot, and how they manage the environmental impacts and carbon taxes. Sean says he was even surprised by the response from customers. “The feedback was absolutely superb and it gave the consumer a greater understanding about what happens behind the scenes,” Sean says.
“These days people are certainly wanting to be more educated about what they put on their plate and in turn we want to nurture that. It’s wonderful to see.”