Richard Kerr

Richard Kerr

Born:

Hobart, Tasmania.

History:

As a child, I moved from Tasmania to Nimbin, Northern NSW. I was lucky enough to grow up on a small farm of 23.5 acres, with cows and chickens and seasonal veggie crops – all for personal consumption. My uncle owned a farm across the road which had dairy cows, beef cattle, pigs and chickens. I was always over there helping with the animals and in my opinion, this was the best childhood. I learned to respect and care for all animals and understood that one day, they would be on the dinner plate.

When I was in year 10, my Father told me that "this would be the last year that my parents pay my school fees and I should start looking for an apprenticeship in any trade.” To be fair, I was wasting their money on school fees as I was a clown and did not focus on my school work at all. So, I finished my school certificate (completed/passed year 10 exams), left school and went to find an apprenticeship as a Chef, as my Grandmother and Mother worked in kitchens and I loved eating food. Also, I had done my work experience in commercial kitchens, I loved the banter between the Chefs and the thrill of being busy.

I applied at every single hotel in Brisbane for a 1 st year apprentice position, I received 42 letters saying "sorry, you don’t have enough experience.”

Two weeks later, I received a call from the Grace Hotel in Sydney. My Dad had applied for a job on my behalf through the Sydney Morning Herald. I was on a 12-hour bus ride that night for an interview the next day. I got the job and started my apprenticeship one month later. It was a frightening, but rewarding experience, as I was only 16 and didn’t have any immediate family in Sydney.

I worked at Grace Hotel for 2-3 years, throughout all the different kitchens. I then moved to the 5-star Westin Sydney and completed my apprenticeship, mostly working in chef hatted restaurant, Mosaic (Italian). After completing my apprenticeship, I stayed on as a Commis Chef in Mosaic for 1 more year. I was then offered an opportunity at Buon Ricordo, a restaurant with 2 Chef Hats and started as Chef de Partie. I was not ready for that! A hotel restaurant and a restaurant are very different, it was so hard in the beginning, but I stayed on for 3 years and dreamed of working in the UK or Europe.

I was offered a job at Marco Pierre White’s 1-star Michelin Restaurant, Mirabelle. I stayed there for a year until it was closed in 2008, that was very sad as I enjoyed working there so much!

Myself and most of the Mirabelle staff moved to the Orrery restaurant in Marylebone, London, as they had lost almost all of their team. I continued there as Senior Sous Chef until 2013.

I moved back to Australia mid-2013 and took on a Head Chef position in a very big venue in Cairns. After a year in Cairns my family home and farm were for sale, so my wife and I moved back to Nimbin and bought the farm. The job opportunities in Nimbin and surrounds are very limited, but I took a job at The Bank Cafe in Lismore. I was there for 2 years when the owner could see I was getting tired of cooking eggs and BLATs. So, we discussed different job opportunities. He bought The Loft Restaurant, around the corner for me to help run. Once it opened under Kate and Brad Rickard’s ownership, The Loft gained 1 Chef Hat from AGFG and their Head Chef is content (ie, me).

Have you always wanted to be a Chef?

Since I was 14, I liked the idea, but didn’t know for sure until my work placement through school.

How would you define your style?

Traditional (Italian, French, Japanese), with modern techniques and a little fusion.

What is your feature flavour these days?

Australian bush food and native Australian food.

Obsessive-compulsive about?

All staff trying their best to provide the best experience for the customer, whether its service, drinks or food. If you can do that for one customer, you can do it for all customers.

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:

Massimo Branchia (Mosaic, Sydney 2003-2005). Armando Percuoco (Bon Ricordo), Armando is the most passionate Chef/Owner I have ever worked for/with. I am grateful for the time he spent with me. Igor Tymchyshyn (Orrery, Marylebone).

What do you love about this business?

There is usually no wrong way, food and dishes can be interpreted in so many ways. Also, customer satisfaction.

An ingredient you can’t live without?

Garlic.

Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?

I think it would have to be the coconut and mango parfait dessert. It looks simple, but the flavour and texture blows people away.

Signature dish:

Seared kangaroo fillet, seasoned with salt bush and mountain pepper, fondant potato, maple glazed Brussels sprouts and Rosella jus. 


The Loft

The Loft

Hidden among Lismore’s laneways, The Loft on Nesbitt Lane offers a dining experience reminiscent of Melbourne’s inner-city culture. Nestled in a former industrial building and spread over two levels, a cosy bar downstairs spills out into the laneway while a mezzanine area sets an intimate setting for dinner with someone special, beneath a wall mural depicting two girls and birds in flight. Under the ambient glow of pendent lights, take a seat and peruse a Mod Oz menu offering starters such as palm glazed pork belly, green papaya salad, peanuts, shallots and ginger dressing, For the main affair, delve into seared kangaroo fillet, salt bush, mountain pepper, maple glazed Brussel sprouts, fondant potato and rosella jus; before a dessert of apple and cinnamon tarte tatin and ice cream.

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