Peter Gilmore is the Executive Chef of Quay restaurant in Sydney. Since 2001, Peter’s creative and original cuisine has seen the restaurant receive an unprecedented number of Australian and international awards, and establish itself at the forefront of Australia’s food scene. Peter is regarded as one of Australia’s best chefs and his fabled “snow egg” dessert is an Australian culinary icon.
Peter describes his cuisine as food inspired by nature. A passionate gardener himself, Peter was one of the first chefs in Australia to embrace heirloom varieties of vegetables, and he works in partnership with small farmers who cultivate bespoke produce exclusively for Quay. He collaborates with artisan producers, from the fishermen who hand dive and line catch the seafood he serves to the farmers who rear rare breed animals with superior flavour and texture for the table. Peter’s appreciation of nature’s diversity and his endless experimentation in his own garden are driving forces in his cooking.
Harmony is another central theme in the dishes Peter creates at Quay. He plays with textures and flavours in varying combinations and intensities, but ultimately, his goal is balance. “The way that texture and flavour play off each other, the way they work together, is really the art of the cook”, says Peter ”and the possibilities are boundless”.
Peter’s cuisine evolves constantly and in new directions. In 2014, Peter is increasingly drawing on his background, growing up in a culturally diverse Australia, to create new flavours and textures in his dishes. His menus reflect his exploration of traditional cooking and ingredients in fresh, new ways; rice is fermented, vegetables are pickled, classic Chinese techniques are re-interpreted. His XO Sea with Five Textures, for example, takes a Chinese speciality and gives it a unique, modern interpretation. The sauce is refined with umame ingredients to enrich it, then five gently poached seafood elements are added, and topped with a garnish created from the XO sauce ingredients - shaved sea scallops, yabbie skins, shiitake mushroom skins, jamon and chillies - to create a textural counterpoint. And, as always, balance.
Says Peter: “At Quay, we play with traditional techniques such as rice koji and fermentation, and give them a modern Australian interpretation. It’s the opposite of fusion, because it’s deeply respectful, but it reflects our unique multicultural heritage here in Australia. And as ever, we strive to create an overall sense of balance. Food that tastes beautiful, that is exciting, and that makes you think about where it came from.”
Peter is a 46 year old Australian, born and bred in Sydney. He was inspired to cook at a young age and started his apprenticeship at 16, then spent his twenties working in kitchens overseas and in country New South Wales, developing his own style. Critical recognition came in 2000 when Peter was the Head Chef at De Beers Restaurant at Whale Beach and Terry Durack, food reviewer for The Sydney Morning Herald, wrote “De Beers houses a young chef with a real talent for sending out beautifully structured food with innate simplicity”. Peter’s next step was as head chef at Quay, and he has never looked back.
Quay has been awarded Three Chefs Hats for 13 consecutive years and named Restaurant of the Year five times in The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. It has three stars and has been awarded Restaurant of the Year three times in the Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. Quay was listed for five years on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and held the title of Best Restaurant in Australasia for three of those years. At The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2012 Awards, Peter Gilmore was named “Chef of the Year”, a celebration of his ten years at Quay.
In November 2014, Peter’s much anticipated second book, Organum, was released. In this book, created four years after his seminal cookbook Quay: Food Inspired by Nature, Peter delves into the principles that inform his original cuisine. In sections such as ‘The pea blossom’, ‘Jewel sea’, ‘Cultural osmosis’ and ‘Grass tree and wallaby tail’, he explores the idea of modern Australian cuisine and introduces us to the many influences on his cooking.
In tandem with the book, Peter also launched The Peter Gilmore App. This world-first digital food experience for iPad lets users follow in Chef Gilmore’s footsteps and explore the stories behind eight handpicked dishes, from concept to producer to finished plate. Experienced through stunning layers of interactive visuals and audio, the app also makes it simple to request a booking at Quay, the logical next chapter in one’s journey through the exciting food of Peter Gilmore.
Peter regards himself as immensely lucky to be a chef in Australia today, with access to extraordinary produce and with the freedom to explore new ideas and draw on a culture which embraces so many people and parts of the world. He is proud to be one of the chefs chosen to showcase Australian cuisine to the world as part of Restaurant Australia 2014.
- No. 48, The World's 50 Best Restaurant list
- Restaurant of the Year, The Australian Gourmet Traveller and Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide, 2013
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