I grew up in the town of Stockton, just on the other side of Newcastle, where I lived with my parents and brothers. From a young age, we were always playing some form of sport in the backyard or the garden. When I was about the age of four, that’s when I knew I had a passion for cooking and that’s all I looked forward to when I came home from school.
Once I was old enough, at about the age of eight, my father let me enter the cake cooking competitions at the Newcastle show, on my first year I won about eight ribbons and was over the moon, that’s when my parents knew I had a unique skill.
From then on, I used to choose everything at school to go with cooking. I won a few of the school and TAFE cooking competitions and that gave me more confidence in becoming a Chef.
When I was 16, I was finally allowed to leave school and start my apprenticeship at the Point Restaurant in Port Stephens. I was there for the first year of my time before moving onto Silo Restaurant and Lounge where I worked for Mark Seery. I remained there for about 8 months before an opportunity of a life time was thrown my way and I couldn’t say no.
I began to work down the Blue Mountains at the famous Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. This is where I learned a lot and it shaped me into the Chef I am today. It made me focus and gave me that drive, it was a very tough kitchen to work in and when my time was up, I moved back to Newcastle and helped out a few mates doing some stage work at local restaurants before I took another opportunity to work for Frank Fawkner at EXP. Restaurant in Pokolbin. I was part of the original team there and it came to that point where I was over cooking some else’s food and giving my ideas away. I wanted to be acknowledged for my own creations.
A great opportunity once again presented to me, I met Evelyn and Stewart Smeed who gave me the opportunity to live my dream: to run my own kitchen and to cook my own food, I couldn’t be happier! Now, that’s where this story is up to so far.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
I have always wanted to be a Chef from around the age of four, I was introduced to the kitchen by my parents and was allowed to help do small things in the kitchen at home. Dad always made sure we had a vegetable garden when we were younger to help us learn about where our food came from. I think that helped me understand more about food and made me more interested as there was an element of imagination to it that fascinated me.
How would you define your style?
My style reflects myself in a nutshell. I cook food that I can remember growing up and put my own modern touches to it. It’s all about seasonality and family style cooking: humble, wholesome, quality and tasty.
What is your feature flavour these days?
That’s a tough one. I love lots of things but a stand out for me currently is citrus, but that could change tomorrow or the next day, it also just depends on what mood I’m in.
Obsessive compulsive about?
I would have to say the way the kitchen and service is run and how my section is set up. Clean and organised means an efficient service! \
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
Brett Graham as he is a Newcastle boy and has one of the world’s best restaurants and Massimo Bottura.
What do you love about this business?
I enjoy interacting with people. I love creating something where I can see it is enjoyed by everyone. Seeing people smile is also a bonus! I feel very lucky to have been given the chance to share this journey with Evelyn and Stewart, they have the same principles in life as I do. We are like a tight knit family and we are black and white with each other. I think that makes us a strong team. Their industry background (corporate banking and finance) is different from mine, however it doesn’t matter, in fact it helps us, each of our skills complement each other.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
I’m obsessed with potatoes, so I’m going to have to say them as there are so many varieties and so many things you can do.
Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?
Confit pork belly with caramelised cauliflower and sherry prunes.