Craig Will

Craig Will

Name:  Craig Will                    

Born:  Launceston 

History:  I developed an interest in cooking early on baking cakes, biscuits and slices at home with my brother... because we liked to eat them.  My father had a large veggie and fruit garden so we did a lot of preserving, jamming and chutney producing in the autumn which I really enjoyed.  A massive walnut tree in our backyard provided the nuts for my great grandmother’s prize walnut cake recipe, one I still use to this day.  

At high school an ex-chef and teacher inspired me to pursue a career in the kitchen and not being an academic I was excited to have something to put my energy into.  I left school in grade 11 looking for a restaurant that would take me on as an apprentice.  After eight months the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Hobart offered me that apprenticeship.  I will always value my training there; working in such a large operation I gained experience in everything from butchery to pastry and buffet to fine dining with everything else in between.  

Gaining my qualifications four years later I met my wife, Monica, also working as an apprentice. She was subsequently offered a patisserie apprenticeship in Adelaide and I followed, quickly finding myself a job running the kitchen of a busy bistro and working in a fish and chip operation for the two years we were there.  

On return to Hobart, Paul Foreman of Marque IV took me on as Chef de Partie but quickly promoted me to Second Chef where I worked for four years before being approached by Rod Ascui.  He offered me not only a Head Chef position but also part ownership of a new business the Stillwater team were setting up in Launceston – Black Cow Bistro.  I took on the position of Head Chef and part owner and Black Cow opened in 2008 and I haven’t looked back.  An opportunity arose in 2009 to buy into the Stillwater operation and take on the Executive Chef position of both operations and I was delighted to accept.  I know I made the right decision when the team was awarded Best Tasmanian Restaurant with the THA Awards of Excellence this year! 

Have you always wanted to be a Chef?  My early inspiration in my home and the guidance my teacher, the ex-chef, provided gave me a career I could pursue with passion. 

How would you define your style?  Less is more or the ‘KISS’ principle – keep it simple!  Use top quality local ingredients, cook with skill and let the natural flavours shine through. 

Obsessive compulsive about?  Being organised and clean in the kitchen...definitely! 

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:  That early teacher who inspired me to pursue a career in the kitchen and my mentor Chef Paul Foreman were my greatest personal inspirations in the kitchen.  

As for influences, when I was growing up Neil Perry was in the process of helping create the modern Australian movement of food borrowing flavours from our Asian neighbours and he made food exciting to me.  The traditional French influences of Marco Pierre White grounded my cooking too. 

Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?  I don’t really do ‘eyebrow raising'; how about ‘crowd pleasing’?  My crayfish with a fresh truffle béarnaise received rave reviews from our truffle dinner two weekends ago. 

Signature dish:  Hard to choose a favourite dish, it’s a bit like choosing your favourite child…however my Stripey Trumpeter dish (sugar and beetroot cured Stripey Trumpeter, shaved baby fennel, citrus infused crème fraiche and ocean crackle) is my current favourite on the menu.

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