What was it like working with some of the world’s best chefs at celebrated kitchens like Noma, The French Laundry and elBulli?
It's a wonderful feeling. Precision, detail and aesthetic is what I took from these places. Everything has a place. Lots of thought goes into everything, from the staff drinking cups to the orchestration of each dish. Each of them have their own identity but all share one goal. It required incredible stamina and energy which can be draining…
Describe your culinary style in three words…
Freestyle, clean and unfamiliar
Who or what inspires you the most?
GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art - http://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/ ) is one of my favourite places to kill four hours. I love observing. If I could earn a dollar from people watching, I would. A variety of aspects in objects or people big or small, known or not is what I gather inspiration from. And from the fish markets in the morning to memories from traveling, too.
How do you think the fine dining scene in Australia differs to anywhere else you’ve worked in the world?
Some establishments do it so well. It's all about the environment you are in. Whether its tropical, metropolitan or rural, the setting is what should set the tone. That's what differs great fine dining establishments around the world, not just whether they're in the north or south hemisphere.
If you could take a plane ride to anywhere in the world, just for one meal, where would it be and why?
Somewhere in Japan with a beautiful bowl of carefully made soba [noodles], raw fish (no tuna) and some seasoned seaweed while sitting in a small quaint setting. There would be a small coal grill to the side with highly marbled piece of beef sizzling away. Tomorrow would be a different story, though...
What are the biggest food trends in Australia right now?
I hate trends. Blinkers are the best for me! But I can't help noticing fermenting burgers, wild foods, coal cooking, ramen and the familiar served in an unfamiliar way. I would love to see common fish given a trend rest and the use of smaller, less-known species.
Other than continuing to provide the southern hemisphere with incredible food, do you have any other plans in the pipeline?
We are opening a food bar. We had our first architectural meeting yesterday so no full concept and names have been finalised, only the site.
And, just for fun, what’s your top guilty-pleasure post-shift dish?
I'm a boring eater. At the moment it's punnets and punnets of blueberries or fresh toasted tiger loaf with great quality cultured butter (lots) and Promite (Australia’s version of Marmite!)
For more on restaurant Esquire visit - http://esquire.net.au
And for details about Melbourne’s Food & Wine Festival - http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au