Born: Colac, Victoria
History: From 1997-1999, I undertook some part time work at Duffs Café in Colac before starting an apprenticeship there from 1999-2000. I spent a few years finishing my apprenticeship at Pearl in Richmond, Melbourne from 2000-2002 before becoming executive chef at Reifs Restaurant & Bar in Lorne until 2006. From there, I was executive chef at Otway Estate Winery & Brewery until 2010 before coming back to Colac to become owner/chef of Fusion Restaurant.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
No, I originally wanted to stay a part of the family farm but was told I must become qualified in another occupation before being allowed to come back. I was always was surrounded by food, whether it was the beef and lamb grown on the farm, dairy from the dairy farms, berries from the berry farms, produce from the coast nearby, yabbies in the dam... There was always some kind of veggie patch on the go, too. Mum was a school teacher so if we wanted dinner ready in time we had to help get some of it ready. Slowly this became addictive to me and my brother, who is also now a really great chef.
School helped keep the passion alive by catering for events. Then, before I knew it, I was working part time for Colac’s best eatery at the time; then came an apprenticeship.
How would you define your style?
Home grown and locally sourced/produced modern Australian. I have now got so many fantastic local friends and contacts that the seasons just flow.
What is your feature flavour these days?
I'm pretty sure it used to be anything Asian and containing chilli but I think slowly but surely I’m exploring a little past that.
Obsessive compulsive about?
My homegrown herbs. Nothing beats being able to throw into a dish heaps of herbs that cost me next to nil, compared to just a sprinkle that costs a fortune.
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences?
Geoff Lindsay: His food is so clean, clever and flavoursome. He cooks what he feels like cooking and it's always about the fantastic produce and utilising it the best way possible
What do you love about this business?
The challenge of producing the goods day in, day out; the people and friends you make; and always learning and experiencing new things, usually without even trying
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Most 'eyebrow raising' menu item?
Rhubarb and Shiraz steeped fillet of beef served blue with parsnip and roasted homegrown garlic puree, broccolini, cumin battered onion and steeping liquid reduction.
Signature dish: Locally caught yabby raviolo with shredded zucchini, homegrown cherry tomato water, basil and parmesan tuille