Born: Wallaroo, South Australia
I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and started my career at Auckland Hotel and Chefs Training School before moving to the Gold coast when I was 17 to start my Apprenticeship. After completing my Apprenticeship I went to Canada and worked at a Canadian-influenced restaurant at a ski hill in British Colombia and fell in love with the mountains! I was then lucky enough to get a cooks position at the prestigious Mission Hill Family Estate Winery and this is where all my culinary dreams came true. I was working at a $100 million property and creating contemporary cuisine with some of Canada’s brightest cooks.
All of our ingredients were grown locally, if not on the property, so my days were spent sorting the day’s foraged ingredients, as well as planning menus around what the famers had picked that week. We only used ingredients from Canada so there was no olive oil or rice, only what was seasonal and available. Our menu changed monthly and our tasting menu changed daily.
After spending nearly four years in Canada, working in other restaurants including a Southwest bar and grill and other wineries, I returned to the Gold Coast to further my education. I took a Senior Chef de Partie position at Moo Moo Wine Bar and Grill and attended Tafe full time to complete a Diploma in Events. Other restaurants I’ve worked at include Songbirds on Mount Tamborine and a small boutique hotel at Mount Buller where I got my first Head Chef position. I am now currently the Restaurant Chef of entwine at Jupiters Hotel & Casino and I couldn’t be happier!
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
No, when I was young I wanted to be a lawyer or an architect. I started my culinary career in New Zealand when I told my English teacher that Shakespeare would have no bearing on my life. That day I left school and signed up to culinary school (now that I think about it, Shakespeare did have bearing on my life, he inspired me to become a chef!). Now I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else!
How would you define your style?
My style is Classic Contemporary. I like to take classic flavour pairings and bring them into the modern world by preparing and presenting them differently using modern techniques. Currently in entwine we have a Duck La Orange dish which we prepare with an orange gel, orange powder and a classic glaze, before cooking the duck using the Sous Vide technique.
What is your feature flavour these days?
Smoke. I like trying to infuse smoke into all kinds of ingredients. In entwine we are constantly testing new techniques, currently we are using smoked almonds and smoked goats cheese on our Garden Plate which consists of 30 different vegetables prepared in different ways - it’s our homage to Michel Bras.
Obsessive compulsive about?
Presentation and balance. People eat with their eyes even more so than they used to. General diners have seen it all by now, especially because of the cooking-based shows on TV. They want to be wowed with colours and textures they have never seen before. And if a dish isn’t balanced in flavour, you’re not really cooking at all.
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
I’m inspired by chefs that push the boundaries of cuisine such as Grant Achatz from Alinea and Homaro Cantu from Moto Restaurant, as well as the originators such as Joel Robuchon and Marco Pierre White.
What do you love about this business?
No day is the same, especially within the hotel environment. If it’s not planning a wine dinner in entwine or a VIP dining event, it is constantly working to create the best possible experience for our guests on a daily basis – no request is ever too difficult! There is never a dull moment here at Jupiters for which I’m very thankful.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Real butter. entwine has a plain butter that I produce weekly as well as a flavoured butter to tempt our guests, such as our Fig and Port Butter.
Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?
Currently on the entwine menu, the Alaskan King Crab Legs dish tends to raise the most eyebrows mainly because of its plate appeal. It is a large cluster of the world’s biggest crab piled high on a plate with traditional accompaniments.
I didn’t create this dish but it would be one of my favourites on the entwine menu - Grilled Asparagus, Sixty Minute Egg, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota and Truffles. This dish is designed to be served in the simplest fashion possible - grilled and dressed asparagus pencils, a warm egg yolk, hand-sliced shavings of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota and micro-plained fresh truffles with a drizzle of olive oil and that is it! A simple dish but very delicious and memorable!