First published on 11 May 2011. Updated on 3 Apr 2012.
If you could do an apprenticeship at any restaurant in the world, where would it be and why? The French Laundry with Thomas Keller because he seems like such a genuine and intelligent person and chef, also the level of care and thought put into each dish is unbelievable, therefore being a part of that process and learning from someone with that amount of passion, enthusiasm and skill would be an invaluable experience.
What is your favourite restaurant in Sydney apart from your own? At the moment I'm really liking Duke Bistro and Ms G's, primarily because the food at both of these places is fun, exciting and seriously yummy. I'm also a big fan of Black Star Pastry.
Who is your culinary hero and why? My mother and grandfather. They both inspired and taught me how to cook simple, traditional Chinese recipes when I was young and because of them my obsession with food began.
What is your least favourite job in the kitchen and why? There are lots of unfavourable jobs in the kitchen - cleaning is one of them, but they've all got to be done and without doing them you won't learn.
Favourite chef's tool and why? The cryovac machine. It preserves, compresses and the bags can be used as a vessel to cook food in. Endlessly useful.
Anything you can't/won't eat and why? I'll try anything once, but I am allergic to peanuts, which is terribly unfortunate considering all these wicked Snickers interpretations bombarding menus these days!
What was your food epiphany? I've always enjoyed the practice of cooking a meal and eating it ever since I was a child as family dinners were a prominant thing in my household. I don't believe I had an epiphany as such, just a continual growth of love for food and cooking which climaxed in Year 8, which is when I thought that this is definitely what I want to do in life.
What would your Death Row meal be? My grandfather's ox tail soup. So comforting and wholesome.
Best food tip for Sydney diners? Be adventurous! Dining with four people and all ordering the same dish isn't really venturing out of your comfort zone.
What do you cook at home? Recipes I find intriguing on the internet but usually just whatever suits my mood. You can check out some of my failures and successes on my food blog steph-the-chef.blogspot.com
What was the thinking behind the dish you created for the Time Out Taste Test? I wanted to showcase an ingredient from the amazing selection of seafood we have on the oyster bar at Felix, so Scampi was deemed the best choice. The pomegranate and watermelon added both sweetness and tartness. The pork crackling gave a satisfying crunchy texture and saltiness, enhancing the savoury aspect of the dish, while the lemon olive oil snow provided some smooth acidity and the baby coriander contributed a fresh peppery finish to the whole shebang.
What was the Time Out Taste Test like to participate in? Enthralling, motivating and stressful at times. The competition was such a great platform for all young apprentices and was a fantastic way of showcasing and nurturing the talents of the next generation of Aussie chefs. Overall an intense and rewarding experience. Thank you!