I started in the kitchen over 22 years ago washing dishes in the local gastro pub.
When I went to college, I was fortunate that both my lecturers had been trained by two of Escoffier’s protegés. During my time, I competed in several national and international competitions.
With those strong foundations, I was able to land a job at Gravetye Manor, a 1 Michelin-starred country house hotel.
I was fortunate to move around the kitchen and work every section and was able to hone my skills and compete a few more times BCF Young Chef of the Year and a senior team competition.
After a couple of years, I moved to Michel and Alain Roux’s 3 Michelin-starred, The Waterside Inn.
I was in charge of the front fish and then the butchery section in my time with the family. That was a lesson in excellence that gets ingrained into your core; you cannot buy that level of training.
I was suffering from burnout working at the pace and standard for length of time I had during my youth, that Australia called. I went for and got offered jobs at some of Melbourne’s best but needed to make an adjustment.
The café scene caught my interest with the freshness of the food and the creativity that was on display. I decided a role in that world was for me, it allowed me to follow one of my other passions martial arts and BJJ.
I moved around the café scene for several years, winning several awards.
I met my partner Jessica, who is a chocolatier and Pastry Chef extraordinaire, and have done many projects with her, including being flown to Manila, Hawaii and San Francisco to cook private events, functions and international consulting roles.
I then moved to consulting, private Chef and freelance work, between cooking for families to helping cafes, restaurants and luxury hotels with menu development, business direction and staff training.
We opened up Berrima Vault House in May 2021 and I transitioned from a consulting role to a position as Executive Chef.
The model has been a hit with the locals and Sydneysiders alike and we have used ourselves as a platform to showcase local suppliers and producers in the region.
We are going to be opening in Sydney in the New Year, creating a member's home away from home in the heart of the city and serving the same top-quality ingredients, and techniques I have learnt and developed over my career.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
There is video footage of me as a 4-year-old asking to bake some cookies; both my parents and grandparents were keen cooks so I always was exposed to home-cooked food.
There was a time when I was 15, I cooked a chicken with mushroom sauce for my Dad and he told me how it transported him back to being 15 and sitting in the grand hotels on Eastbourne seafront with his Mum.
He was quite emotive, it was the first time I realised how powerful food can be to your senses.
How would you define your style?
What is your feature flavour these days?
Koji and the derivatives you can make from amazake, shio Koji, to garum and miso.
Your greatest culinary influence:
The seasons, farmers, growers and small producers.
What do you love about this business?
I love the fact we are able to create memories and to transport people back to a certain time and place through food and aromas.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Olsson’s salt flakes,
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?
Our new menu Chawanmushi, umami kataifi nest, mushroom and seaweed tea.
Textures of honey, bee pollen, elderflower foam - we showcase a local apiarist The Honey Thief - it consists of a honey parfait, bee pollen garum, elderflower foam, honey Turkish delight and honeycomb.
What do you think COVID has taught restaurants and Chefs about their diners and the industry in general?
It has actually highlighted how resilient the industry is as a whole, but more importantly how fragile the individuals are that make up the family-run businesses and the bulk of the workers.
There aren’t large margins, the cost of ingredients and utilities is always on the rise and that has to be shared around. I think that it helped shine a light and educate customers on some of the real costs of dining out.
Tell us something no one knows about you?
I cannot stand rose water - it tastes like potpourri and reminds me of my great Auntie Edna and Uncle Bert which is actually nice, but shouldn't be eaten.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Living my best life!