Wellington, New Zealand.
I am currently the Head Chef at Oncore by Clare Smyth in Sydney. Prior to coming to Australia to join Oncore, I worked at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (where I met Clare Smyth), Eleven Madison Park, Restaurant Frantzen and Core by Clare Smyth
I started out my career washing dishes at a small local café at the age of 14. At 17, I started my training at the Culinary Institute of New Zealand and then went abroad to work at some of the most prestigious three Michelin-star restaurants in the world before moving to Sydney in 2021 to undertake my present role.
Throughout my time in some of the best kitchens in the world, I’ve always found if you put your head down and work hard, you’ll eventually find yourself getting to where you want to be.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
From the age of 10 I knew I wanted to be a Chef. It all started at primary school where we had to set up an enterprise project and sell our homemade goods. I still remember being in the kitchen with my Mum making chocolates and fudge to sell at the school fair and that is where my passion first began.
How would you define your style?
I’m classically French trained, though I love to take inspiration from different cultures and cuisines and incorporate those together to inspire a restaurant’s design and food.
What is your feature flavour these days?
I wouldn’t say a flavour as such but a well-executed sauce where there is harmony and depth of flavour. Be it a beurre blanc, ramen, dashi, or a consommé, there is a real art to executing the perfect sauce. It is something I constantly train the team about.
Cleaning, creating habits and sticking to them. I always say in the kitchen everything has a home. Once you find a home for a certain pot, whisk, or ladle, it always goes back there and that helps to keep a clean kitchen. A clean kitchen helps to keep a clear mind when you’re busy during service.
Your greatest culinary influence:
Clare Smyth, Matt Abe, Bjorn Frantzen.
Clare taught me perfection and the relentless pursuit of excellence.
Matt Abe taught me hard work and that you are never bigger than a job. If the floor needs scrubbing, scrub the floor, if the dishes need doing, do the dishes. Doesn’t matter the job, its one team one dream.
Bjorn taught me how to manage people and learning to step back and see the bigger picture.
What do you love about this business?
The feeling of been part of a family, and no matter what we go through as a team, we make it happen, together. We work hard and we never give up.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
It is not mine, but Clare’s ‘Potato and Roe’ - kept simple it’s the perfect execution of taking a humble ingredient, elevating it and making it the star.
What do you think the past 12 months of COVID has taught restaurants and Chefs about their diners and the industry in general?
It’s all about teamwork. Working together, looking after each other and really bonding together when times are tough. It’s been an incredibly challenging time for everyone, including the hospitality sector over the last two years, but it’s also helped a lot of places step back and look at new ways to run restaurants.
It’s also shown how incredibly important regular and loyal guests are to a restaurant. Two years ago when COVID started I was in Sweden working at Restaurant Frantzen and for a lot of restaurants the thought of borders closing would be disastrous, though at Frantzen we remained full throughout.
That was testament to the local regulars the restaurant had and showed just how important it is to deliver an amazing experience, so guests do return.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
If COVID has taught me anything, it is to go with the flow and be adaptable. All I know is I’ll still be in the kitchen trying to deliver an amazing experience for our guests somewhere in the world. Where that is, time will tell.