I was classically trained as a Chef in the Hunter Valley under my mentor, Robert Molines from Bistro Molines. After 7 years, I went on to open Nor’East, a multi-award winning seafood restaurant on Newcastle Harbour. In 2012, I received the Australian Hotels Association Service with a Smile Chef of the Year Award, and my enthusiasm and passion for cooking has not since waned. I have previously been at the helm of Bar Petite, and The Albion Hotel, as well as consulting on numerous other restaurants, before taking the leap to start my own business in 2014. I continuously strive to make my mark on the local dining scene, and challenge the preconceived notions of the humble bistro with fresh, seasonal produce and an ever-changing specials board.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
I was very sporty at school so initially I started a degree to become a PE Teacher. After working in a kitchen and realising my passion for cooking, I decided teaching wasn’t for me, and sought out an apprenticeship.
How would you define your style?
At Robert’s, I was classically trained in French cooking so I am very comfortable with traditional techniques such as butchery, charcuterie and fresh pasta and sauce production. At Nor’East the champion of the menu was seafood, so I love to include the best and freshest seafood I can get my hands on in my weekly specials board. Generally, I like to make rustic, hearty food with the best quality ingredients I can get. I believe simple, good food is a style that will never go out of fashion.
What is your feature flavour these days?
It really does change all the time according to the season, however, I have been putting an Asian style red miso broth with chicken dumplings on the specials board lately. I’m loving the Asian flavours with a hint of chilli as we edge into the cooler months. Winter is always about highlighting stews, casseroles and roasts.
Obsessive compulsive about?
Cleaning! The kitchen is where I spend most of my time so it needs to be a place where I can think clearly and focus on cooking.
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
Definitely Robert Molines. I feel extremely fortunate to have been trained by someone who is such a pioneer of Australian cooking.
What do you love about this business?
I love that I can take my career anywhere. I love making good food for people and educating them about what they are eating. I also enjoy the challenge of what can be done in a Bowling Club, and reinvigorating a local venue.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Butter and salt.
Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?
Tripes Lyonnaise in a fine dining setting.
I don’t really have a ‘signature dish’ as such, I like to evolve and learn constantly, I am influenced by seasonal produce and the setting in which I am cooking.