Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
How would you define your style?
I’ve disciplined myself to create an honest, flavoursome cuisine that reflects our immediate environment. It needs to be approachable, a little familiar, a little new, clean and well presented. For years I have grown fruit and vegetables, reared chickens and more at home, also having the luxury of some stellar kitchen gardens in venues I have managed. This has shaped my cooking style and given me a good sense of what bounty each season can bring and all the microclimates within a region.
The garden also provides so much variety that we are never short of inspiration. I’ve disciplined myself to create an honest, flavoursome cuisine that reflects our immediate environment. It needs to be approachable, a little familiar, a little new, clean and well presented. Everything on the menu either starts with a core ingredient or is a by-product of another application, with a focus on waste reduction. The Woodstock Estate provides so much variety that we are never short of inspiration.
What is your feature flavour these days?
We make a lip-smacking lovage vinaigrette. Also, a tarragon brine for poultry hits the mark. I love flavours that build and the combination of slow caramelised local parsnips, cream and miso create a standout parsnip miso caramel, which has great length.
Refinement I guess, something can always be honed a little more. The overall customer experience is always a priority.
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
Passionate growers and producers. It’s very inspirational when you meet the individuals paving the way and changing the standard of the food system as we know it. It is clear they are the real heroes. The Chefs who honour this and make it their business to showcase the importance of going back to traditional methods and nurturing the land, are also inspiring.
What do you love about this business?
The constant challenges, endless inspiration and passionate people.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Probably good quality bread flour, confit garlic and fresh herbs.
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
Set among the rolling hills of Onkaparinga Gorge at the gateway to McLaren Vale, Victor’s Place restaurant shares its space with Varney Wines cellar door and winery on Victor Harbour Road in Port Noarlunga. The heritage listed 1970s limestone barn has been lovingly restored and offers sweeping valley and vineyard views from the alfresco deck, or indoors through glass bifold doors, while relaxing in rustic surrounds of sandstone walls and softly glowing pendents. An ever-changing menu honours regionally focused dishes of wood-smoked, tarragon brined free-range chicken, fermented shallot, onion soubise and endive. For the main, delve into lamb shoulder presse, roasted parsnip, buckwheat and miso caramel; before a dessert of native peach, almond and caramelised white chocolate bavarois.