Your favourite recipe you cook for yourself?
My tastes have changed a lot in the last few years. I used to love making rich savoury cheffy style dishes. I loved watching Gordon Ramsay and I tried to make every dish from Nic Watt’s show “Testing the Menu”. In the last few years I’ve become more interested in trying to recreate certain dishes and flavours using only plant based ingredients. Since opening my restaurant I haven’t cooked once – I leave it to my kitchen team now. They know what I like.
The one thing you always have in your fridge?
Champagne, for emergencies.
If you could impart one piece of cooking knowledge to everyone, what would it be?
Don’t put your knives in the dishwasher.
Favourite dish from your restaurant?
It either be our Sunfed ‘Chicken’, Coleslaw and Chili Jam Burger with kumara fries, or Co-Yo Caramel Coconut Ice Cream.
Can you recall the moment when you knew you wanted to pursue a career in food?
I never really thought I would end up in the industry, but I hoped I might. Years ago I watched every episode of John Palino’s show “The Kitchen Job”. I got a kick out of watching John help these struggling restaurateurs get a chance to realise their dreams. He made it look easy and it made me feel like I could try too. Now that I’m in the industry it feels great to be making a living from something I’m interested in, and especially in a way that’s socially beneficial as well.
Your go-to dinner party meal?
Beyond Burgers for a BBQ. Surprise your friends with a fully plant based burger that’s better than the real thing in every way.
Who is your food hero?
My original head chef was Angus Mclean. I was so lucky to have Angus help me start the restaurant, and design the original menu. He has an incredible sense for flavours and how to put a dish together. He’s just a great guy too. I couldn’t have done it without him. I also have to mention my mum. My mother is an incredible cook, and helped to get me interested at an early age. Every time we have a family dinner my mum really smashes it out of the ball park.
What music, if any, do you like to listen to while cooking?
My tastes in music are somewhat old school and varied. I like Harry Nilsson, Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers, Glen Campbell, ELO, The Beatles et cetera… The Back of House team here take it in turns to pick the kitchen play lists, and they seem to like every form of music on the face of the earth. One minute it’s Childish Gambino and the next it’s Kenny Rogers.
Biggest kitchen disaster?
During a dinner date at home I knocked my knife off the bench and it landed on my guest’s foot (sorry Kristen!). By the time we got back from A&E the meal and the vibe were more or less ruined.
Your guilty pleasure?
Oh man, I’m a sucker for fresh, doughy bread with a chewy crust. The savoury pinwheels at Tart Bakery are as good as it gets.
In all your travels, where have you experienced the best food (and what was it)?
My friend in Moscow took me to an authentic Georgian restaurant. He wanted to try it out because a mafia boss had been shot there about a week and a half earlier. The food was amazing. My favourite, however, is Shanghai. The Jianbing and Jiaozi were so good I could’ve eaten them until I passed out. I’d love to get something like that on my menu but we haven’t cracked it yet.
Is there one cookbook you go back to time and time again?
About six years ago my diet looked very different to what it is today. My friend Cathy gave me Yotam Ottolenghi’s book, “Plenty” to encourage me to eat more vegetables. I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time but it’s become an important book for me. The Edmonds Cookbook also warrants a special mention.
The kitchen utensil you can't live without?
Everyone should get a diamond knife steele and learn how to use it. Keeping your knives sharp is easy, and in a way, meditative and cathartic.
You're currently craving?
Now I’m thinking about one of those Tart savoury pinwheels for morning tea.
Any advice to new cooks?
I’m not a professional chef myself so I’m not sure how valuable my advice would be, but I would say to everyone to try to understand your food choices. Go beyond flavour, habit and convenience and consider the effect your diet has on your mind, your body, and the world.
The Butcher's Son
204 Jervois Road