James Campbell head chef MoVida Sydney

James grew up on a sheep and cattle station in the Grampians in the Western Districts just outside of Dunkeld in a very self-sufficient household. They would grow their own veggies and slaughter their own meat and a trip to the supermarket was a rarity.

When he was 15, James moved to Melbourne to go to school. He got a part-time job working in the fruit and veg department at Coles where he met Andy McMahon. The two bonded over a love of mischief, often playing fruit ninjas in the storerooms upstairs. Andy would stand poised, machete in hand and James would be the pitcher, throwing watermelons high into the air. A clean swing from Andy and the red fruit would be all over the walls. It was all fun and games until the boss caught wind and Andy got fired.

At 24, James had come out the other end of university with an arts degree and a major in philosophy. It was then that he decided to follow his true passion and become a chef. Andy had been pulling beers at The Carron Tavern in West Melbourne and got James a job working in the kitchen where he met Frank.

Frank soon became James’ mentor and pushed him to constantly challenge himself as well as teaching him the most valuable lesson for any chef: know your produce.

James has been with us since day one when we opened back in 2003 in Hosier Lane and is a valued member of the MoVida family. Best mates to Andy and Frank, he started with us as an apprentice and quickly made his way through the ranks becoming sous chef then head chef at MoVida. In 2009 James became the head chef at MoVida Aqui. As Frank’s right-hand man, James is now running the kitchen at MoVida Sydney.

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