She says she was always destined for university.
“I was a really academic kid and I had my mind set on doing something highly regarded like medicine because I knew I could get the grades to get in."
But Chloe didn’t go on to study medicine as her friends and parents expected.
"I didn’t know which way to go so I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts. I studied philosophy, political science, environmental science and psychology in my first year. My plan was to have a little look-see at a few different fields and shape my degree from the second year onward.”
It was unlikely trajectory to the top of Tasmania’s food scene.
A surprising realisation
Chloe got her start in the food business a decade ago at Hobart institution Smolt.
“I started working in hospitality to pay my way through uni."
"I was lucky to work somewhere of a high calibre,” she said.
“Smolt took all these European ideals about provenance and modernised it for an Australian market. It was so exciting. The people I worked with were super professional and quite clear that a career in food was legitimate and possible.”
It soon became clear to Chloe that she didn’t have to choose between hospitality and her field of study. She could do both.
I knew I wanted to pursue my interest in sustainable policy, and I wanted to make tangible impacts and influence people. And the best way to influence people is by being in a field where you can make something cool.
For Chloe, that meant looking at the big picture.
“What we’re seeing in Australia right now - with Woolies putting images of farmers on their produce - began 10 years ago when all the top-end restaurants started emphasising the provenance of their plates. It’s through this process that people can understand how the food they choose to put in their mouths affects the polar bears’ chances of survival. They’re symbiotic.”
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
In 2008 chef Iain Todd approached Chloe about a new restaurant he was developing called Ethos.
“The idea was to have a minimal impact space and place – from the bricks and mortar venue to the accountability of the stock and produce; everything. It was an incredible opportunity to have that project put in front of me at just 21 years of age. And PS: the restaurant would be in an 1820s heritage-listed building that hadn’t been touched for 120 years.
"I became the policy maker of the business and worked in the background to help make decisions about solar panels, water heating, choosing minimal impact equipment and so on."
Ethos was an immediate hit with diners local, interstate and international.
In 2013, Chloe was recognised for her work by being named a finalist in the Electrolux Young Restaurateur of the Year Awards.
My role was a very creative one. I had to keep the team inspired; it required a skill set to take a lot of disparate ideas and channel them into something that would deliver a coherent experience for the diner.
Making a difference
Chloe says that, while her experience in hospitality was essential, her Arts education was a valuable asset in the Ethos role.
"Knowing how to form an argument, research and back up your concepts and pull together ideas are really key tools to success in hospitality. They’re definitely part of the reason why I’ve been able to flourish in this industry."
Since then, Chloe has branched out on her own. She established packaged fruit juice brand Tasmanian Juice Press as well as nutritional lunch spot Vita in Hobart.
Her mission is clear:
I want to provide healthy, affordable, locally produced alternatives that support the local economy and don’t produce waste.
“Sure I’ve had moments where I’m tearing my hair out and asking myself whether it’s worth it. I mean, I could buy juice concentrate from overseas at a tenth of the price that I can produce it locally. It’d certainly make better business sense, but that’s not what I want to do.
“I don’t want to live a life that doesn’t hold me to account for my decisions.”
Could an Arts degree be the secret ingredient to your ideal career? Find out more about the Bachelor of Arts at the University of Tasmania.
Words: Dale Campisi
Hero image: Brady Michaels.