Born: Moree, NSW & raised in Lake Macquarie
History: From a small pub kitchen and restaurant in Lake Macquarie, I started work experience in a commercial environment. I also worked casually in a Sizzler Chain during high school yr 11 & 12. I started my first year apprenticeship at Café Sole (formally Clams) at Merewether, overlooking Bar Beach at Newcastle; afterwards, I was in and out of restaurants, cafes and catering companies until Icompleted my apprenticeship ahead of schedule.
I then started up at a silver service restaurant known as Danilo’s; I had worked with their chef previously and he then recruited me. Danilo's has been established for some 15 years, serving the rich and famous. I was there a couple of years and eventually made it to head chef.
I went into hotels after this with the goal of corporate chef I suppose. There were more opportunities in a hotel environment than in restaurants alone, catering for weddings, corporate lunches, a la carte and in-room dining; I worked for Raddisson, Rydges and eventually moved to Canberra through the Rydges chain. In Canberra at Rydges Capital Hill I catered for the Prime Minister’s Eleven two years in a row.
I then left hotels and worked for a catering company at Duntroon in the Officers Mess and Sargents Mess where I had the privilege of catering a function for the Governor General at the time. After only 6mths at Duntroon I received a job offer at Hotel Heritage working for the Doma Group as Executive Chef overseeing 3 hotels. I stayed there for 3 years, until the Doma group sold the hotel to a private business man.
After trying two other Canberra hotels, I decided to leave that industry and left to work for a Turkish Restaurant in Tuggeranong for 2 and half years. I was then offered to buy a partnership in the business and it got me thinking about running my own restaurant instead. I took on Barocca Café and Caramel Bar in Oct 2009.
Have you always wanted to be a chef?
From the age of 14 I fell in love with cooking and thrive on the adrenalin of a busy kitchen.
How would you define your style?
My style is classic with influences from different cuisine, from Turkish to Italian & French, all fused with some of my own experimental style.
What is your feature flavour these days?
Caramelised foods and slow cooked dishes.
Obsessive compulsive about?
Seasoning correctly. Nothing's worse than sending a meal out bland. I hate it when people add salt - taste it first!
Your greatest culinary inspirations? Gordon Ramsay.
An ingredient you can’t live without? Sumac - what a great spice.
Most “eyebrow raising” menu item? Slow Cooked Greek Style Lamb Shanks (winter menu only).
Signature Dish: Caramel Pork Belly and a new one lately, Cajun Crumbed Fish.