Tom Price, WA.
I studied commercial cookery in New Zealand when I was 17 years old. I absolutely loved the idea of being paid to play with food and I enjoyed the pastry side of cooking the most when I was young. Baking New York-style cheesecakes, making feijoa muffins and flipping pancakes for my family on Sundays was where it all started.
Since then, I have worked on Hayman Island, travelled to Montreal to run a Summer bistro by the riverside and back to New Zealand to pay back what I had learned to the younger generation. I then ended up in Lake Louise at the Fairmont Chateau for a couple of years before moving onto private function work in Switzerland.
I returned to Hayman Island once again, for a change of weather and more senior position, as I had such fond memories of the high quality of food that was produced there in the early 2000s. After a while, I decided it was time to get away from resorts, so I moved to the Gold Coast and worked at Versace, from banquet dining to the chef-hatted restaurant, Vanitas. I also worked with a select handful of very talented chefs to open the Burleigh Pavilion before I found a new passion for creating my own food and menus, as well as running a much smaller team.
Did I always want to be a chef?
I originally wanted to be in the police force but after work experience and placement in restaurants, I found working with food to be more my style.
Define your style:
I’m currently really enjoying the tapas/small bites scene. I’m really loving the idea of having intense flavours in smaller bites, leaving the consumer open to trying more in one sitting.
Umame. I’ve always been interested in Asian food of all types, and the fermenting style of production used to provide more earthy and deep flavours.
Cleanliness, and about prepping food correctly. Follow hygiene standards and recipe cards exactly! If you're not going to do it right... don't do it!
Anthony Bourdain. He's was a great mind and did things in the era of trial by fire.
What do you love about this business?
I love hospitality and being a chef within that because it also allows me to chase my other passions, like travel, food and drink and playing with fire!
An ingredient I can't live without:
Salt! Second only to cheese, personally.
Eyebrow-raising menu item:
Green ant gin.
Currently the beef tataki at The Rusty Barrel in Varsity: Wagyu rump with smoked oyster mushrooms, Ponzu jelly, white soy dressing, baby celery and garlic chips.
Come see what everyone is talking about at new kid on the Varsity Lakes block, The Rusty Barrel Whiskey & Tapas Bar on Varsity Parade. Take a seat alfresco in the garden area where rosemary overflows from planter boxes, or dine indoors among rum barrels, a graffiti-style mural and glowing neon sign stating ‘we're all mad here'. Choose your whiskey or cocktail and sit back to send your taste buds on a journey through the tapas menu, plating up temptations such as Wagyu and smoked oyster mushroom tataki with ponzu jelly, white soy, baby celery and garlic chips. Perhaps wrap your hands around a porky pig burger – pulled pork, sticky pork bites, lettuce, caramelised onion and oyster mushrooms – or pick up some triple cheeseburger spring rolls with pickle dipping sauce and char-grilled corn.