Lakes District, England – came to Australia at age 2 and grew up on the Gold Coast.
My dad was my inspiration to become creative with food. Starting out I completed a prevocational course at Coolangatta TAFE and fell in love with food and cooking. My four-year apprenticeship on the Gold Coast saw me qualify prior to moving to Melbourne. I really wanted to be part of the growing food scene. I have been fortunate to work with some amazing Chefs and teams. Some of my favourite roles have included working under Damian Jones at Andrew McConnell’s Mrs Jones.
St Jude’s in Fitzroy was my first solo Head Chef role – this was one of the first shared plate restaurants showcasing artisan produce from small local farms and producers. Other highlights include Bellota Wine Bar, which exposed me to food and wine pairing and emerging winemakers. I had the privilege of working alongside some great Chefs in Melbourne: Andrew McConnell, Dianne Kerry and Paul Wilson to name a select few.
Damian Jones really got me into South-East Asian cuisine. Making everything from scratch: pastes, fermented sausage, cracking and shredding coconut, all the traditional methods, but with a modern interpretation. Fook Shing has given me the opportunity to perfect and experiment with Asian flavours from across South-East Asia using local and regional Victorian produce. Fook Shing has a historic goldfields heritage and I have tried to bring this through the menu using a lot of traditionally inspired dishes.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
I have been cooking for over 20 years and it has always been my passion. It’s a job where you learn something new every day and this is important to me as well as being able to connect with small artisan producers and locally sourced product. I also love building and working with a small team of dedicated Chefs and floor staff.
How would you define your style?
I have previously concentrated on European style cooking which focuses on great produce and this has flowed through my love for and approach to South-East Asian cooking using traditional cooking styles.
What is your feature flavour these days?
I’m loving wild ginger, it’s called Krachai. It’s really hot, clean and floral and is used to lift curry pastes and dressings.
Apart from the cleanliness of the kitchen, straight lines in set up (I know weird right) and treating fish really well.
Your greatest culinary influences:
An early influence was Chef, Michel Bras and his aesthetic approach to plating food. Chef, Alice Waters for her simple treatment of produce. Chef, David Thompson for his approach to Asian cuisines, research into his reference books and his respect for the origins of the dishes he has created.
What do you love about this business?
I have travelled a lot and have really loved my food experiences across the world, and this has really helped me to understand food and its origins.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
Jungle curry of rabbit, which is a boiled curry and includes aromatics such as scud chilli, betel leaf and Krachai. This dish has its origin in the forested areas of Thailand and does not use coconut. It is spicy hot but clean and fragrant. This can be polarising for some customers but it’s an amazing dish.
Danielle pictured with Fook Shing's antique trishaw in the hot seat and Sous Chef, Dale Kelly in the carriage.
Grab your spyglass and follow the clues to find Fook Shing restaurant on Piper Street in Kyneton. This venue, named after an infamous Chinese detective posted to the region during Victoria's Gold Rush, celebrates all things Asian from hanging red lantern lights to exposed brick, polished wooden floors and red table settings. With numerous spaces for dining and drinking, including cosy fireplace settings on comfy couches and an alfresco deck for balmy days, take a seat beneath the portrait of Detective Shing and delve into vibrant and modern South-east Asian cuisine, designed for sharing. Discover crispy pork belly, cucumber and peanut salad, before unearthing larger plates such as wok-seared lamb, Chinese celery, coriander and long red chilli, with sides of Asian greens and steamed rice.