After being born in Ndola City in Zambia, Richard moved to Western Australia when he was 6 months old.
My experiences as a Chef over the last 28 years have been exciting, broad and varied. My work has spread over pubs, clubs and restaurants, steakhouses, large-scale buffets and function venues.
I have worked with wood fires and rotisseries as well as being a committed pastry Chef, where I perfected the art of ice cream making; as well as opening new venues and turning them into hatted establishments.
I embrace the diversity that comes with being a Chef in Australia. This has allowed me to perfect a range of different cuisines including Japanese, Modern British, Italian, Chinese, Malay, Thai and Brazilian.
My achievements include Best Steak Restaurant in Australia five years running and being awarded a one-hat status in many venues, including both Char and Darwin Club in the NT, which is the only venue in Australia that has two-hatted restaurants operating out of the same kitchen.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
When I was in high school, I dreamt of becoming a jet fighter pilot, but due to my asthma, that wasn’t possible. After three years at University, I decided to try a hospitality course and instantly fell in love with cooking. The good old rock and roll days!
How would you define your style?
My style is clinical. I’m always looking to showcase local and seasonal produce of the highest quality; this allows me to create clean flavours and execute them perfectly.
What is your feature flavour these days?
Umami. I enjoy how it naturally occurs in certain foods i.e. Parmesan, miso, seaweed, soy sauce and kimchi, just to name a few. The cunning chemistry and the science behind umami is fascinating and as a Chef, I love exploring all the characteristics.
Your greatest culinary influence:
Fergus Henderson, famed Chef of the Michelin-star awarded St. John restaurant in London. Fergus is noted for his use of offal and other neglected cuts of meat. I share his philosophy of nose-to-tail.
As Fergus said: "It's only polite really if you knock an animal on the head to eat it all: tripe, heart, feet, ears, head, tail. It's all good stuff."
What do you love about this business?
The rush and adrenaline that comes with service. This, paired with the camaraderie within the team, allows me to successfully run two hatted-restaurants.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Parmesan cheese and top-quality beef. Simple and delicious.
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
Without a doubt, our most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item, is the A5 full-blood Wagyu from the Kagoshima prefecture in Japan. This beef is from the Kuroge Washu breed and has one of the highest marbling ratings in the world, exceeding MB12+. This intramuscular fat in this cut is responsible for tenderness, juiciness and of course that umami flavour that provides an authentic experience to our customers.
For Char restaurant, the steak tartare takes the win. It's a simple dish that is well executed and showcases the quality of the beef we use.
As for The Darwin Club, the jewfish is our customers’ favourite. Sourced locally from the Tiwi Islands Archipelago in the Northern Territory; I describe this dish as a marriage of seafood. The surprise of this dish is the lobster-stuffed zucchini flowers that, paired with the lobster bisque, contribute an incredible explosion of flavour.
What do you think COVID has taught restaurants and Chefs about their diners and the industry in general?
COVID has taught us all the value of freedom. The ability to dine again has been embraced as an experience, rather than a necessity. COVID forced restaurants and Chefs to adapt to the circumstances.
At Admiralty House, home of Char Restaurant & The Darwin Club, we experienced, as many other venues in Australia did, staff shortages, lockdowns, border restrictions and mask mandates.
We adapted to this new situation and overcame the difficulties. Along with our venue Manager, we decided to create and co-ordinate two restaurants from one kitchen. This allowed better efficiency of staff and equipment while also offering our customers a choice in dining experiences - Char Restaurant as a steak house on the ground floor and The Darwin Club, showcasing local seafood, in our upstairs area. Two ideas that complement each other functionally while keeping their own personalities.
The team at Admiralty House now delivers two different experiences from the same kitchen. Even with the added challenge of opening a new restaurant during COVID, both venues are increasing their revenue and getting booked out.
Tell us something no one knows about you?
If you ask any of my friends, they would tell you that I love fishing! But something that no one knows is that I am secretly terrible at it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Still cooking and building the teams up - discovering new talent and finding their exact position in the kitchen while watching their continued development. It is very satisfying to build a team capable of providing two totally different experiences from the same kitchen, and both worthy of a Chef Hat.
Eventually though, I would like to open a farm and stay at home with my wife.