First published on 11 May 2011. Updated on 3 Apr 2012.
If you could do an apprenticeship anywhere in the world where would it be? I'd do a breakfast apprenticeship at the Viceroy Hotel in Bali. I took my girlfriend their last year for a week and the breakfast there was incredible. The omelettes where faultless and the pastries were the freshest, tastiest that I've ever tried anywhere. I'd love to learn how they do it so perfectly every day.
Who is your favourite restaurant in Sydney apart from your own? To tell you the truth I can't really answer that. I very rarely eat meals out.
Who is your culinary hero? I wouldn't say I have a hero as such but in terms of people who inspire me I'd have to say first of all my mum - she started my love of cooking from an early age, and still makes the most indulgent cakes, slices and cookies I've ever eaten. Secondly all the people who I've worked/ am working with. Virtually every one of them has helped me out, or taught me something new or inspired me to try different foods or methods of cookery. Being at work is great because it's like being inside a cookery encyclopedia - all you have to do is ask people.
What is your least favourite job in the kitchen? Shredding dried scallops for XO sauce. It's the most fiddly, numbing and time consuming job ever. When you look what you've done, then look again in half an hour and realise it's virtually the same, then look how much you still have to go - soul destroying.
Favourite chefs tool? The humble spoon. It's virtually always in use-stirring, scooping, quenelling, tasting. Having a nice assortment of different ones makes every job easier - they are so versatile. A well-balanced, deep spoon is soothing to look at and so comfortable to hold.
Anything you can't/won't eat? Smoked salmon. I absolutely despise the taste, despite my best efforts to like it. It always looks so tasty, but when I try it... it's a very deceptive fish!
What was your food epiphany? I have them all the time actually. My most recent ones were learning to
make a sourdough starter using just flour and water, and how to make butter. Both are things which I eat or use all the time, but I've never given much thought to. It fascinates me to learn about them and to think
that in the past that's just what people did - they couldn't just go to the supermarket and pick some up. It's cool to learn something which has been around for such a long time, but most people take for granted.
What would your death row meal be? I'd have to go with something simple for fear of creating a massive list of foods which I couldn't ever choose between. I'd say heaps of fresh crusty, chewy sourdough absolutely smothered with salted butter and a strawberry milkshake.
Best food tip for Sydney diners? Avoid fast food chains like the plague. They are terrible for your health,
taste horrible and are incomprehensibly detrimental to the world.
What do you cook at home? I tend to take a lot of inspiration from things which I taste, or learn or see at work and save them all up in a kind of weekend cooking database. When it gets to the weekend I usually want to make a banquet of about 10 different things - sometimes it works, sometimes I just end up with a massive pile of dishes and not much else!
What was the thinking behind the dish you created for Time Out Taste test? Well I started out with things which I liked to eat or cook. Unfortunately I had a whole bunch of stuff which didn't really go with anything else. After few fruitless trials, my head chef told me I should just try to concentrate on one region or cuisine. I'd learnt to make soy milk and tofu a few months earlier and found it infinitely more tasty than the rubbery white cubes of tofu or the sweetened, flavoured soy drink which are available in the supermarket. Tasting fresh soy milk compared to this is like trying a completely different food. So from there I figured Asian cuisine and hence the sashimi, the pickles and the dashi and yuzu. My other thinkng was the impact which our diet has on the world. The humble soy bean is capable of producing 5- 15 times the amount of protein per acre when compared to dairy or beef producing cattle. Using organic certified non genetically modified soy beans was a simple no brainer too - the consistent manipulation of nature, and the spray from harsh chemicals affects everyone in the world not just the person eating it. The fact that people now have to choose a natural alternative, and to pay more for it is frankly terrifying.
What was the Time Out Taste Test like to participate in? It was really good experience. Seeing and tasting what the other chefs came up with, and working with them was really interesting. There are
a lot of very capable young chefs, with a lot of really exciting ideas so it was great to be part of it.