David Learmonth

David Learmonth

Tataki of Alpaca – is it too cute of an animal to eat? Diners are more adventurous these days, but this dish certainly tests the limits of some! Also, serving wallaby on the menu always raises a few eyebrows among our overseas guests.

Born:

 

 

Central Coast, Australia.

History:

I began my career like most Chefs, with an apprenticeship, where I worked at a number of Sydney’s fine dining restaurants and bistros. By my early 20’s, I was a Head Chef running a high volume establishment.

Moving from Sydney to explore the world, I spent some time in London where I worked with Shane Osborn at the two Michelin starred Pied à Terre, before moving onto the French Alps where I worked as a Chef for various high class chalets and restaurants.

Returning to Sydney, I worked with Hugh Whitehouse at the hatted Milsons, before breaking away from the restaurant scene to work as a private and charter Chef in the super motor yacht industry, where I cruised through the Mediterranean, Americas and Caribbean before anchoring in South Florida, USA where I was Executive Chef and Director of a Chef’s table restaurant, wine bar and provisioning providore for the motor yacht industry.

Australia called me home though, and I returned to work as Head Chef for hatted Eschalot restaurant in the Southern Highlands, NSW. I am now the Executive Chef of the NSW Parliament.

Have you always wanted to be a Chef?

I knew I wanted a career in the hospitality industry, but I didn’t quite know where. I started my year ten work experience in hospitality management but by the end of the first day I ended up in the kitchen and knew that was where I wanted to be. I really enjoyed the busy environment and the creativity and skills of the Chefs. I threw myself into learning as much as I could, and the establishment even offered to pay me at the end of the work experience period. Since then, I’ve never really looked back. To this day, I’m still developing my trade, even as I serve dishes to politicians, heads of state, dignitaries and even the odd royal as Executive Chef of the NSW Parliament. There’s always more to do, with more exciting and creative dishes to develop. 

How would you define your style?

My style I would have to say is clean. I concentrate on the ingredient and on bringing together a dynamic compilation of flavours, textures and techniques. At the Parliament, I am fortunate to be able to work with some of the finest produce that is grown and sourced right here in New South Wales. It really allows me to focus on showcasing beautiful ingredients in what I like to think of as an Australian twist on modern European styles of cooking.

Obsessive compulsive about?

Productivity, pro-activity, efficiency and reducing waste, all consume my mind!

Your greatest culinary inspirations/ influences:

Shane Osborn, Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse, Peter Gilmore, Marco Pierre White and Grant Achatz.

Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?

Tataki of Alpaca – is it too cute of an animal to eat? Diners are more adventurous these days, but this dish certainly tests the limits of some! Also, serving wallaby on the menu always raises a few eyebrows among our overseas guests.

Signature Dish:

In the restaurant, I prefer not to run the same menus and dishes constantly, but at home the family favourite is the comfort of my Southern Italian red sauce with spaghetti and basil. That’s on the menu about once a week.