Born: Johannesburg, South Africa
History: I began by working for a year as a commis in a small hotel in the Black Forest in Germany before returning to South Africa, where I studied a diploma in Hotel Management. I missed the pulse of kitchens, so I took on junior positions for Intercontinental Hotels & Leopard Creek Golf Resort on the banks of the Kruger National Park before heading back to Johannesburg and working for a boutique private catering company - Executive Cuisine.
I left South Africa for England and joined the Mandarin Oriental Hotel group in their new property, Hyde Park. I spent the next three years working my way up to sous chef of Foliage, their flagship one star Michelin restaurant.
I then joined the team of Vivat Bacchus, a restaurant wine bar in Farringdon. Two years later, I rejoined Mandarin Oriental as chef de cuisine of their signature restaurant in Bermuda, the Sea Horse Grill. Three years in Bermuda with Mandarin Oriental exposed me to America and I got to work alongside some great American chefs. I then returned to South Africa where I headed Blues in Camps Bay for a season before moving to Australia.
For the past four years I’ve headed the National Gallery of Victoria for Peter Rowland Catering, looking after their three retail outlets and banqueting, including the restaurant, Persimmon.
Elaborate on how you became a chef and your career thus far?
My family were always keen on using good quality, fresh, seasonal ingredients and they are all very good cooks in their own right. I enjoyed helping them prepare our meals and, of course, loved eating the food we prepared. It becomes a natural career choice when one gets paid to do something they love doing.
Being a chef has allowed me to travel to some amazing locations, meet fabulous and really interesting people and, of course, eat and drink along the way. I’ve worked in many facets of the industry, from small restaurants to large corporate luxury hotels to resorts and catering companies, all of them providing their own rewards and unique challenges.
Define your style and how it coincides with your restaurant’s defining aspects?
My style reflects a lot on the food and ingredients that I like to eat.
It’s a mix of both classical French and modern cooking techniques, using whichever season we’re in, the freshest available ingredients and local produce wherever possible. Tasmania has some fantastic produce and really interesting people behind the produce, so we’re all about creating that story, from paddock to plate.
People of greatest culinary inspiration/influence?
There are many chefs, including my peers, who over the years I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with. They have not only been really creative cooks but also inspirational leaders and mentors of our trade.
Inspirational chefs that stand out, in my world, for their contribution to the way we see food and for their passion to our trade are - to name a few - Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal and Thomas Keller.
Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?
Probably - since I’ve been in Tasmania - possum.
I feel each place is unique and so must the dish be. It keeps me creative! I get an idea in my head and play with it for a while; I then chop and change it a few times before I get bored and move on. I still haven’t created my ultimate signature dish.
What is your oldest dish and one that customers will not let you remove from the menu, ever?
It has changed many a time over the years; however, my chocolate fondant with cherry ice cream and my peanut butter parfait with caramelised bananas and chocolate sorbet have always been firm favourites.
Favourite season when menu planning and why?
Each season comes with its own delights, and I equally love the hearty, soul satisfying comfort food of winter and the excitement and freshness of spring and summer and the good days that are to come.
Sweet or savoury man?
Both, I think. It depends on my mood. I do have a weakness for lemon tart.
Describe your signature dessert method and the most memorable moment when a customer expressed their absolute LOVE for your dish.
In Bermuda, I did have two Canadian girls invite me back to their hotel room once with a tub of my mascarpone and lime ice cream (they caught me completely off guard).
Your choice meat or seafood?
At the moment, Tasmanian salt bush lamb.
Ingredient/s you can’t live without?
Good flaked sea salt, 70% chocolate, white truffles and foie gras.
Guilty pleasure? What do you eat when you go home at night after a long day at work?
Guilty pleasure: toasted sourdough sandwich with smoked ham, brie, vine ripened tomato and good Dijon mustard.
Late night after work meal: does Cascade lager count? Or (I’m boring here) ... a bowl of toasted muesli.