Born: Sydney, NSW
History: Neil's career in hospitality began at Sails restaurant at McMahons Point and in Rose Bay. He then became head chef at Barrenjoey Restaurant, Palm Beach and was given creative control over Perry's in Paddington. In October 1986, he opened the Blue Water Grill at Bondi Beach and took the site from a 20 year failure to an overnight success. Neil Perry’s passion for perfection is one of the reasons for his great success.
In February 1989, Neil Perry opened Rockpool Sydney with his cousin turned business partner, Trish Richards; Rockpool is a landmark restaurant renowned for quality and symbolizing their commitment to world class luxury dining. In October 2006, the Rockpool group partnered with American IT billionaire, David Doyle, and made their first foray interstate, opening Rockpool Bar & Grill in the Crown Complex in Melbourne.
Following that, Spice Temple emerged on the Sydney scene in January 2009 and months later, in March 2009, the same heritage listed building saw Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney open its magnanimously ornate doors right above Spice Temple.
The progress has continued as Spice Temple Melbourne merged into the dining scene in October 2010, The Waiting Room – Rockpool Group’s first stand alone bar – soon followed. As of January 2011, Western Australia became part of the loop with the launch of Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth.
Neil Perry and his business partners have announced that they are planning a new restaurant concept that will hopefully launch in spring 2012. They run seven venues and believe it possible to manage another three restaurants, opting to take this endeavor in a new direction.
The first of the three instalments will be an Italian Restaurant situated in Melbourne’s Crown, with a sophisticated yet simple menu informed by Neil Perry’s investigative travels to Italy. Contrary to what you may expect, Neil insists that they will present the kind of food that nonna cooks, emphasizing the heart and soul of Italian cuisine.
Perry’s world renowned name lead to a corporate consultation affiliation with Qantas Airways; in this partnership his expertise is sought to develop quarterly in-flight menus. Neil Perry is also a recognized author, by multiple publishers, and is a widely known celebrated chef. The LifeStyle Channel is his television mainstay, where he works as a presenter and producer. Always delivering the best, Neil Perry Fresh products also bare his name and reflect Neil's ongoing commitment to quality.
Have you always wanted to be a chef?
Always! Started as a hair dresser (not for me), then worked as a waiter and discovered my love of hospitality. I eventually moved to the kitchen and never looked back.
How would you define your style?
Modern Australian is my mantra I guess... but I like to think it is a mix of all the wonderful things that have inspired and continue to inspire me in life: my travels, my peers, wonderful cookbooks and above all – the best produce and suppliers on the face of the planet.
Obsessive compulsive about?
Produce. I live and cook by the philosophy "the cornerstone of good cooking is to source the finest produce". My father was a butcher and a keen fisherman and from a young age I was taught the meaning of freshness.
Your greatest culinary inspirations?
Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller, Alice Waters, Alain Ducasse. My father. Anyone that cooks with love.
Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?
Still waiting to experience it!
Signature dish: Goats cheese tortellini with king prawns, pine nuts and raisins, or Stir fried spanner crab omelette.
Read more in our AGFG blog Q&A with Neil Perry.