I started out in kitchens along the Adelaide coast during high school doing the crazy Summer trade. In this time, I quickly got a taste for the industry.
After dipping my toes in a few different kitchens, I realised the importance of working closely with passionate people and growers, specifically how that can positively shape a professional Chef.
I moved closer to the produce and the real action in the heart of the Fleurieu Peninsula, McLaren Vale. I’ve worked through premium establishments such as Salopian Inn and Woodstock Winery (the first time). After leaving to establish my own set of rules at a local art gallery restaurant as Head Chef, I further gained exposure in a three-hat environment in regional Melbourne. I was then asked to come back and take the reigns of the Woodstock Winery Coterie restaurant to which I rose to the challenge. I now have a few years under my belt delivering ‘sustainable quality’ to our customers. We are proud of our ethos.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
From the age of three, I wanted to be a baker. Surprisingly to me, after years of having a different culinary focus, perhaps it’s coming full circle. I’ve been bread obsessed for years and it’s not letting up…
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. 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 to warm radicchio in. Also, a tarragon brine for poultry hits the mark. The duck neck sausage with preserved estate plum and chestnuts also comes to mind.
Refinement I guess, something can always be honed a little more.
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?
We try not to shock people too much but the lamb ribs crusted with nam prik pao and peanuts alongside a pear and herb garden salad raises eyebrows in a good way.
Mille-Feuille of Estate quince from two seasons, local chestnut cream and Willunga almonds.
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.