I first started my career in Geelong as an apprentice working under Graham Jefferies at Baveras and Matt Dempsey at Gladioli. During this time, I did three short stages at Nahm in Bangkok, Attica and the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld.
After completing my apprenticeship, I obtained the position of Commis Chef at the Royal Mail Hotel with Dan Hunter. During my time at the Royal Mail, Dan announced to the Chefs that he would be leaving the restaurant. On his last day, he offered a select group of chefs, a position at his new restaurant. I became a member of the opening team at Brae in Birregurra and we saw through some incredibly tough times and made our way onto the list of the world’s 50 best restaurants.
After two years at Brae, my next step was Head Chef of Gladioli in Inverleigh. Matt Dempsey had confessed to me that the restaurant had seen better days, was poorly managed and he had lost his passion to cook. He offered me complete creative freedom, within the pre-existing style of Gladioli. The responsibility to design menus and create dishes was definitely new to me and it was quite a challenge. Although after the first 12 months, I began to get a good grasp of the ever-changing availability of seasonal produce. I worked very closely with many different local suppliers. I was also growing a large variety of ingredients with my partner on our 5-acre property in Winchelsea. During the second half of my two years at Gladioli, I had developed a kitchen that used only fruits and vegetables picked by the Chefs on surrounding farms and gardens. I also developed a repertoire of dishes that truly highlighted the ingredients and the seasons.
After Gladioli I had a sudden change of direction and wanted to leave fine-dining behind. I wanted to enjoy the true fundamentals of simply cooked, comfort food. I took a job in Apollo Bay with Steve Earl at La Bimba. This was a great experience as I was exposed to the true origins of meat and seafood. Steve and I worked very closely with the local fisherman, I spent a day at sea on the cray boats, and we really focused on using as much of the industry’s bycatch as we could. Steve brought in wild shot game and we butchered all of our own meats from surrounding farms. I spent a lot of time free diving all along the Great Ocean Road and developed a taste and love for wild seafood.
Working at La Bimba taught me another valuable lesson, that as a Chef, my place is in fine dining. Where I can be endlessly creative and can continue to challenge myself, my staff, and my guests.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
No. I was a very passionate home cook from a young age. During my first year after high school, I decided to go to cookery school just for the purpose of learning more skills.
My teacher saw that I was passionate and convinced me to start an apprenticeship. And then, one thing led to another.
In this industry, I have found that great chefs are also great mentors. Which is why I have been able to come so far in such a short time.
How would you define your style?
At Campbell Point House we are focused on creating a cuisine that fits in with the beautiful French styled property. I have taken lots of inspiration from old French Chefs, and also the cooks of regional French countrysides. These recipes and ideas are being brought back to life using what we have available on the day, in our onsite gardens and from surrounding suppliers.
What is your feature flavour these days?
Lately, my feature flavour would have to be wild seafood. We are so lucky to be located so close to Port Phillip Bay, and the Great Ocean Road. I am really taking advantage of the wonderful ingredients being caught from these waters. I strongly believe that any variation in the quality of wild-caught seafood is due to the way it is handled after being caught. Because of this, we only receive fish that is completely whole (scales on, guts in) and caught on the same day as it is delivered. This allows us to honestly have some of the highest quality seafood in the world, as it is only a matter of hours out of the water before it arrives in our kitchen.
What do you love about this business?
I love that in this industry, you can forever continue to evolve in multiple aspects of your work.
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
Jerusalem artichoke, black truffle and Olio Nuovo.
It’s one of my favourite desserts. It is only possible to create during the middle of Winter when fruits and vegetables from the garden are scarce.
The dish originated from an idea for a dessert that combines the first pressed new season olive oil and black truffles. There is also a baked egg yolk ice cream, which is a rich ice cream that tastes like a baked flan. Also, a Jerusalem artichoke salted caramel sauce which has nutty and earthy aromas. A hazelnut olive oil and black truffle crumble. This is made with rice flour instead of wheat flour, olive oil instead of butter, plus grated black truffle. This allows the pure flavours of the dish to come through and not be clouded by wheat and butter. Finally, some fried artichoke chips, and over the top of it all, a good glug of Toscana’s first pressed Olio Nuovo. The Olio Nuovo adds a bright fruitiness to the dish, reducing the overall sweetness.
Nestled beyond the quiet and secluded hamlets of the Bellarine Peninsula, Campbell Point House Restaurant offers the ultimate dining experience in palatial French-inspired surrounds. Housed in a private boutique hotel which commands a superb view of an ocean-fed saltwater lake, marble fireplaces, parquetry flooring and opulent fittings, the restaurant delivers fine dining in the form of eight-course degustation menus alongside wine pairings. Guests' expectations are met with dishes such as dry-aged snapper with mustard and new potato, or lamb with tomatoes and pumpkin; while seafood lovers can dream of delving into offerings like crayfish and zucchini ravioli. Vegetarians aren't overlooked with a degustation menu featuring the likes of marinated eggplant with pine nuts and currants.