I have been a chef since I was 20, but my culinary journey started far earlier. My earliest cooking experiences were at home with my mother and grandmother, who at the time loved her job as the TV chef for Golden Circle.
My first dish I remember planning, cooking and presenting was with my mother for a small dinner party. I chose a handmade spinach and ricotta ravioli with a burnt butter sage sauce ... straight out of the Italian Cooking Encyclopaedia! It took us all day (and flour everywhere) but I loved the result and the process, every moment of it. From then I was hooked! I was 10.
I spent the next ten years learning my trade and honing skills and etiquette. At the age of 21 I received the industry award (RACAA) for 'National Rising Star' for my work as head chef of San Marco, in Southbank, Brisbane.
I have been cooking and leading kitchens in restaurants all over the country since and am still loving learning and creating every day.
Have you always wanted to be a chef?
No, not essentially. Like most young children I had many different career paths that I considered taking. Some of them were more fantasy than reality though! I had a very strong love of food and the technique used to turn it into something wonderful from young age.
By the age of 15 I was cooking regularly but never thought of it as a profession. At the time I was considering a more traditional career path (B.A -Accountancy). There were many important points in my early childhood and adolescent that inspired me to be a chef. Towards the end of my school years, I started reading a large variety of culinary classics by some of the founders of modern cuisine; Auguste Escoffier Paul Bocuse, Christian Millau, Jean and Pierre Troisgros, and some more left of centre cult classics such as Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. It was reading these books and getting an insight into the wild, exciting, intoxicating and intriguing world of elite professional chefs that gave me the motivation to turn my childhood hobbies into my profession
What is your feature flavour these days?
It’s constantly changing and developing as new produce comes into season. Utilising some of this amazing produce to bring out and showcase its original flavour is one of the primary focuses in my kitchen. Producing other flavours that compliment or enhance without subtracting from the core ingredient is also an important part of the way I do things.
Obsessive compulsive about?
The ingredients I use and treating them with the highest respect. Maintaining the integrity of the ingredients from farm to plate is something we pride ourselves on at Weddings at Tiffanys, and something that I have always attributed to as part of my success within my career.
Your greatest culinary inspirations?
I find culinary inspirations in many different parts of my life. Early in my career I paid particular attention to early French haute cuisine and the methods used by Marie Antoine Careme. Later inspiration came from more refined methods by Escoffier and near perfected by culinary geniuses such as Paul Bocuse and other students of Fernand Point. I still use this foundation today for many new techniques that I have developed and incorporated to my menus.
The other chefs I respect greatly are highly skilled line chefs. Well organised, efficient, effective accurate and clean. Line chefs that can hold down a section night after night never getting 'stuck in the weeds' or 'going down' all together. This sort of consistent performance requires a certain level of dedication and mindset that many chefs these days are lacking.
What do you love about this industry?
I love the many creative possibilities that present themselves every day to chefs, particularly in Australia. The availability of amazing local, seasonal and free range ingredients allow us to be limited only by our imagination and our skill.
I love to see the smile that comes to someone’s face when they taste something for the first time, or experience a dish that they never thought could be so wonderful, changing people’s opinion of the food we eat every day and how wonderful and exciting it can really be.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Passion! If that's not there then neither am I. Whether it’s my own passion for food, my team’s passion to learn or my suppliers dedication and appreciation of produce, without passion, what’s the point?
Most eyebrow raising menu item?
Being a wedding venue, we do maintain many traditional dishes as the foundation for our menus. We need dishes that set us apart from other venues, whilst being suitable for everyone in the room. Our free-range spatchcock with our own peri peri spice is an outstanding dish that highlights the difference utilising free range products, as opposed to unethically factory farmed proteins.
Growing up in QLD, seafood often features heavily on my menus. My local seafood risotto with the best seasonal ingredients from the sea, roasted vine ripened tomato and preserved lemon creme fraiche showcases the amazing local seafood available within an hour of our venue. We pride ourselves in sourcing wherever possible all our fresh produce within a 60 km radius of Tiffany’s.