Peter Walker Is Mr May

Cocktail guru and co-owner Shortys Bar & Restaurant

Birthplace: Wodonga

Family: partner Emily, Mum Cheryl, 2 brothers, 3 sisters

Star sign: Aries

Favourite food: Thai

When he was just 13 Peter Walker’s parents decided to move from Victoria to Lennox Head. For several years they ran a health food shop in the main street (later run by Mavis Mercer), and Peter spent his teenage years here, attending Southern Cross School.

At 18 he headed south, this time on his own, and this time to Sydney where he found work in hospitality.

‘I’d washed dishes for my parents, so I guess I’d had some experience,’ he says.

‘But my first bar job was at The Bourbon in Kings Cross.’

When the travel bug hit again, Pete headed off to South East Asia and then to London where he worked at the infamous Ministry Of Sound.

The next overseas stop was Canada, just intended to be a short stay, but so good, that Peter stayed for 4 years, working the ski fields in Whistler, and staying on during summer when he worked at a golf course.

‘There was so much to do in Whistler in summer, it was almost as good as the winter. Amazing countryside, mountain biking, golf.’

When he eventually had to come back to Australia, he landed back in Sydney and got a job managing the Pyrmont Point Hotel.

And it was there he met partner Emily.

When the pair decided to jump in a van and explore Australia, they naturally headed in the direction of Lennox Head to visit Peter’s mother.

‘We were just passing through really, and had plans to go travelling a lot further, but when we got here, we just thought, would we be better off investing our money in a business?

‘We had a look around in Byron and other places and then we saw Shorty’s was for sale. That was pretty much it.

‘We took over 2 years ago in August.’

Pete and Emily brought chef Ludovic back into the partnershop, and focused on great service and building a strong team of staff.

‘We treat our staff well. They are like family.’

Between them, Pete and Emily have got a lot of years experience and it shows.

Peter is known for his amazing range of cocktails, all designed by him, and changing every week.

‘Next week I’ve got Kiwi fruit, basil, vanilla syrup, gin, elderlower liqueur on the rocks.’

‘I come up with a new one every week.’

Although he loves to create new cocktails, Pete is proudest of his skills in preparing the old-school range of mixes, in particular the Old Fashioned: traditionally, bourbon whisky mixed with bitters, maraschino & orange zest.

And in winter he plans to offer a special mulled wine, a recipe he based upon years of serving and drinking it at Whistler.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Making people happy. I just enjoy watching people enjoy themselves.

Any downside?

Not having Friday and Saturday nights to enjoy, but that goes with the territory.

Hobbies?

Restaurants and bars—I love reversing the roles, going out, drinking and eating and enjoying what others have to offer (and pinching some ideas!) Also camping and snow boarding.

Work life philosophy?

Work hard, play harder.

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