I was born in 1990, in a small country town, where cooking was always a big part of my life. Most of my earliest memories are of myself cooking with my Mother, Grandmother, or trying to help out barbequing with my Father. Everything seemed to revolve around food. Happiness, family, friendship and enjoyment all correlated with the making of and eating food.
From this, I realised I could continue to make people happy and have a creative outlet by cooking. Needless to say, I pursued it as a career. I left school to do so at a very young age and never looked back. I swapped text books for knives and went for it!
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
For as long as I have known what being a Chef was, I have always wanted to be one. Nothing else appealed to me, and nothing else has ever satisfied me, creatively or otherwise. I love everything about it. As any Chef will tell you, you are either one of us, or you aren’t, but all of us are driven by love and passion for cooking and food, and of course the thrill and pressure that comes with commercial kitchens.
How would you define your style?
As a required answer - Modern Australian drawing heavy influence from my past in French dominated cookery, and from my new love for Italian Cuisine. I use fine dining techniques and methods learned from Chefs older and wise. I apply them in a relevant and practical way to everything I am doing. I like new challenges and have a huge thirst for knowledge and trying and developing new ideas. In my opinion, however, I do not have one particular style, just a willingness to achieve an exceptional experience for anyone who wishes to eat my food, and a drive to continue learning as I progress in my career.
What is your feature flavour these days?
I wouldn’t say one flavour in particular, but I would say that I am forever using the freshest possible herbs I can get my hands on for garnishing, infusing flavour and adding depth and character to my food. The work I am doing currently draws heavily on Italian cuisine, and therein lies an abundant use for lovely fresh herbs, and working in the country provides me with a wealth of such ingredients of exceptional quality, right at my doorstep.
Obsessive compulsive about?
Straight lines, functional and streamlined service set up, clean work spaces, personal hygiene, and folding cryovac bags neatly for storing (anyone who knows, knows.)
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
Every Chef can rattle off 5 of the best Chefs in the world at the moment that they claim to draw influence from, because social media has shone a light on them in recent years. But my inspiration is drawn from all the ladies and gents working with those Chefs, cooking on their hotlines, prepping their stations, and keeping those hats, Michelin stars and accolades they all work so hard for. This industry is full of people willing to sacrifice their time, friendships, families, well everything, in order to achieve something great for not only themselves, but the Chefs they are working shoulder to shoulder with, day and night, sometimes up to 70 hours a week. Those people are inspiring, because of what they do, and the way we all push each other to keep working hard, reaching new goals and achieving greatness, in whatever way that may be, that is what influences me in more ways than one.
What do you love about this business?
Vine & Tap has provided a lot of things for me that many of us as Chefs can only dream of - a blank canvas, brand new kitchen, any equipment I could possibly want or need to do my job and most importantly free reign of my kitchen. The owners Trish and Stephen have a very clear and concise vision of what they want to achieve now and, in the future, but are versatile, willing to try new things, and they trust my judgement, which creates an excellent working environment, and that definitely shines through in the experiences people have when they come here, from when they are first greeted, until they are walking out the door happy and content. It is an excellent venue, owned and run by great people, and I am very happy to be a part of it.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
Stock. Hands down, without question. Vegetable, chicken, veal, fish or master.
Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?
On the first menu we ran here, I featured a dish that contained octopus, olives, nduja (spicy Italian salami paste), sea banana and dehydrated celery, which raised many an eyebrow but was received really well. I also ran a special that was a whole fried leek flower, nestling a fresh burrata, with truffle, sugo and oregano, which definitely caused a few eyebrows to raise, but once again was received well once eaten.
I have no one singular dish, but the dish I am best known for here at Vine & Tap is my Wild Mushroom Arancini with pickled and grilled mushroom, truffle mayonnaise, shaved Parmesan and chives. Simple, delicious and effective.
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