From a very young age, I always had an interest in food, but being a rough and tumble kind of kid in England, I always thought I would be a football (soccer) player, or some famous athlete. A serious injury brought that to a pretty quick close.
Looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened to me! Obviously, as you grow up and become more realistic about what you want from life, you hone in on what you love – for me, that was food. So, I started a new journey towards becoming a Chef.
I grew up in Nottingham watching some big names in the culinary world appear and flourish – which started to put England on the map in the food world. I began cooking when I was around 17-years-old and fell in love immediately.
Over my career, I managed to work with some of these people, including Gordon Ramsay and Chris Wyburn-Ridsdale – which was a huge opportunity for a young Chef like myself. Eventually, I was working at one of Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin-starred restaurants Aubergine and began to thrive.
These big hitters in the food world certainly inspired my cooking and aspirations for the future. I knew I wanted to travel and learn about multiple styles of cooking and one day, own my own restaurant.
My career got its real kick start in the Marriott Hotel Group, where I began to climb the ranks. Before long, I was overseeing four of their restaurants and commanding a kitchen staff of 40-45. One of these restaurants was Japanese, the cuisine I quickly grew to love.
I love working with fresh produce and seafood – something that Japanese cuisine is inspired by and very centralised around. It was then I decided that one day I would have my own Japanese kitchen – thus Project Tokyo was born.
Eventually I would love to open more Project restaurants: Osaka, Hiroshima, Kagoshima, Sapporo…each would focus on the local cuisine and specialties – something that Japan does so well and famously.
The Gold Coast has a lot to look forward to and I can’t wait to bring more of our own signature style to the scene.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef:
After giving up on football, I knew I wanted to work with food in some capacity. Becoming a Chef was the natural progression, but teaching and coaching new and upcoming Chefs was something that I surprised even myself with.
It’s a great feeling watching your students grow and take up the torch. Everyone has a passion for good food – we all crave it – and I felt like I found my calling when I became a Chef.
How would you define your style?
Versatile. I think versatility is key – being able to adapt and grow with different flavours and styles, is how a good Chef becomes a great Chef.
What is your feature flavour these days?
Yuzu -it’s so flexible and I love creating new recipes, both sweet and savoury, using it. Plus, it’s such a unique flavour. That and sesame – seeds, oil, dressings – wonderful and under-rated flavour.
Obsessive and compulsive about?
Cleanliness and presentation. Also garnishes – they’re something that will wake me up in the middle of the night and write down ideas with.
Your greatest culinary influence?
Tom McConnell and Rick Stein – absolute legends and I managed to work with both at different points over my career, which I’m very grateful for.
What do you love about this business?
The people you meet and the places it can take you. Everybody loves food and there’s an infinite amount of knowledge about cooking out there, all in the minds of some amazing people.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Butter. Goes without saying!
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
Pickled fish entrails with cream cheese – something I tried in Tokyo once and loved it. I’m not sure the Australian public was ready though!
Twice-cooked pork belly, with teriyaki glaze and chilli pickled wombok.
A touch of tradition and a dash of modern thinking takes your palate across the world to Japan, at Project Tokyo on Markeri Street in Mermaid Waters. Stop by, sit down and sip some sake in industrial-style surrounds of polished concrete, wooden floors, dark blue accents and Japanese writing on the walls, while perusing a menu delivering, fresh and inspired dishes from sushi and sashimi to the Chef’s selected omakase offering. Say arigatou to spinach salad, sesame dressing, pickled carrot, or prawn popcorn, chilli garlic aioli and wasabi peas; before mains like braised pork belly, sweet chilli glaze and pickled wombok. Steak lovers won’t go past Wagyu, charred asparagus, tempura enoki and teriyaki glaze; before a sweet finish of sesame panna cotta, berry compote and vanilla bean ice cream.