History: In 1994 I completed my chef training at CHATS (Catering,
Everything was made fresh on the job, so I was
given a good foundation right from the beginning. From
Two years later I followed my partner down to
Palmerston North, NZ and entered the world of Hotels. First by landing a Sous
Chef Position at the Coachman Hotel, which was taken over by the Rydges.
By then I had taken on the role of Executive Chef but a year later needed to
change scenery and took the Executive Chef position at the new Novotel in town.
After the Novotel I was tempted back to the Coachman Hotel as the Rydges chain
had moved on and it was back to a boutique Hotel with an Executive Chef, Mark
Harman who had some experience in 5-star dining at the exclusive Huka Lodge in
NZ. Keen to learn something new from him, I worked under Mark until he left to
work in the
Again I took on the top role and let them know
it wasn’t long term as at the time I wasn’t keen to stay in Palmerston North
for much longer. Eighteen months after that my husband got a job offer in
I had loved what I learnt in Hotels but didn’t
want to go further in that direction. So after great consideration I made a
massive move in my life and chose to move to
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
As far back as I recall I have always wanted to be a Chef. I remember wanting to surprise my Dad on Father’s Day with some freshly baked cookies when I was about six years old though my Mother got wind of it after my brother and sisters and I had made the cookie dough and put an immediate stop to us using any appliances at that hour of the morning with no supervision… most disappointing.
I also recall a camping expedition in the backyard very early on another frosty morning; after stringing up a few sheets for shelter between the trees we started a camp fire for breakfast. This was my first experience of outdoor cookery, and wasn’t very successful I must admit. Scrambled eggs were the easiest idea for a cooked breakfast I could come up with and I was pretty confident it would be fairly simple to cook. Boy was I mistaken! The result was a pot as black as the ace of spades and eggs to match.
My first attempt at a Kiwi favourite, the Pavlova, wasn’t very successful either, age nine. This was when I learnt about the differences between Fahrenheight and Celsius. The result, a caramelised round slab of meringue. Still tasted good but not the desired outcome. Age ten, I was in discussions with my best friend at school about buying a restaurant in the future. Really, I can always remember wanting to be a Chef. I can’t explain why, it just feels like being a Chef is the essence of who I am.
How would you define your style?
My style of cooking is fresh, flavoursome and honest. With a healthy respect for the classic foundations of cooking, there is a strong Italian influence as a result of the restaurants & chefs I have worked with in the past and the experience I have gained. But I am not limited by that. I also love Asian food and enjoy cooking with Thai influences, ingredients and flavours.
Obsessive compulsive about?
Most things to do with the kitchen really. Clean & tidy benches, vegetable cuts, all food preparation. Position of sauce bottles, spoons & utensils, salt & pepper. Position of mis en place for service.
Your greatest culinary inspirations?
My chef tutors Brendon Turner & Martin Harrap were an inspiration to me; Brendon was young, full of energy and a talented Chef, and Martin was very professional and brimming with experience. Because of my tutors and the high level of professionalism at the catering school I attended my standards have always been set fairly high.
The Chef I worked under in
Most “eyebrow raising” menu item?
I’m not sure I would describe my food as eyebrow raising but a dish that jumps to mind is the Chinese braised pork belly & pan-fried scallops with a shallot & coriander salad.
Signature Dish: This is something has a constantly evolving nature. Two dish’s that I have had a significant following for in the last eighteen months has been the ‘Black Mussels & King Prawns in a Saffron Broth with cherry tomato, kipfler potato, fresh parsley & grilled Bruschetta’ and also the ‘Baked King Salmon with a basil crust, served with a caper & lemon risotto & salsa rossa.’