1. How would you describe your style?
I describe my cooking style as minimalistic but technical at the same time. I rely on the ingredient that I am using to be at its upmost peak in quality, second rate is not good enough. I like to embrace new waves of cooking styles and food trends so you will see a lot of pickling, fermenting, slow cooking, seeds, nuts, raw etc on my menu
2. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I take inspiration in day to day life for my cooking, whether it is something that I have cooked at home which has sparked an idea that I can work on, or if it is a conversation with a friend or colleague that starts the creative juices flowing. I also like to garden and grow many different vegetables, herbs and flowers in my home and work garden that gives me inspiration.
3. What was the first dish you included on the Stillwater menu when you became head chef?
The first dish that I put on the Stillwater menu when I took the reins almost 6 years ago was a squid ink noodle, spanner crab, coconut and nut oil dish. It had the perfect balance of salt and sweet from the ink and crab and was heightened with the richness of the coconut.
4. What dish have you been most proud of?
The dish that I am most proud of is a dish of ‘Southern rock lobster with mandarin peel puree, celery jelly and creme fraiche’. I was able to use a by-product (mandarin peel) - my favourite fruit - and turn it into something truly unique, and as it turned out, it went very well with seafood. The celery component gave the dish a touch of earthiness, touching on the ocean and earth philosophy. I would use the celery leaves to make celery salt to season the dish with.
5. Stillwater is now a destination restaurant, what do you feel attracts people from outside Tasmania to come all the way here to experience it?
Stillwater has been an icon in the north of the state for almost 16 years and has a good reputation for fine food and excellent service. When speaking to mainlanders and colleagues of mine in mainland restaurants, when Tasmanian restaurants are mentioned it always includes Stillwater as a go to destination, and that is something that cannot be bought.
6. What Tasmanian produce are you enjoying at the moment?
Periwinkles which are hand dived by a local guy Alex Isles, I remember eating them as a kid and haven’t seen them until recently. They have two different textures making them unique in my eyes. They are certainly an acquired taste though.
7. Do you feel Tasmania can produce home grown chefs or do you feel tehy need to have experienced cuisines and work outside of Tasmania?
Tasmania can certainly produce great chefs without having to travel for long amounts of time - I am an example of that as well as former mentors and colleagues. Of course travel does not hurt and I always encourage my apprentices to do so, and I am now in a position where I can travel and experience new cuisines and cultures to build on my skills.
8. What are the must have items in your pantry/kitchen?
The musts in my pantry are of course salt, vinegars, oils and spices, you can make just about anything then
9. How would you describe the Tasmanian food scene right now? What can we do to make it better?
The Tasmanian food scene is in a good place at the moment, we have more people immigrating to our state, from mainland Australia and overseas, bringing with them new food ideas, cuisines and skills to teach us. It has changed dramatically in the 16 years that I have been in the industry. We can only keep building on this idea that is Tasmania
10. If you could only eat one style of food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Japanese or Italian food I could happily eat for the rest of my life
11. What dish would you cook to impress your wife?
Cooking gnocchi for my wife always puts me in the good books, but anything I cook for her makes her happy
12. Fish and chips or Sashimi?
Sashimi over fish and chips if I had to choose
13. What are three dishes or techniques you think every aspiring chef should master?
Aspiring cooks need to learn discipline, patience and knowledge to be a great chef, the rest is easy
SOUTHERN ROCK LOBSTER, MANDARIN PEEL PUREE, CELERY JELLY, CRÈME FRAÎCHE AND CELERY SALT