The Sunday Times - - NEWS - BELLE TAY­LOR

CLARE­MONT bistro Bil­lie H might have only been op­er­at­ing for a year, but al­ready it’s be­ing lauded for turn­ing out some of the smartest dishes in the coun­try. It’s been named as one of the na­tion’s top restau­rants by Gourmet Trav­eller and the Week­end

Aus­tralian Mag­a­zine, and has at­tracted glow­ing re­views from a slew of re­spected crit­ics.

And much of the credit goes to 30-year-old first-time head chef Alia Glo­rie. When The

Aus­tralian Mag­a­zine listed its top 50 restau­rants in the coun­try, only three had fe­male head chefs, putting Ms Glo­rie in an ex­clu­sive clique.

She said part of the suc­cess of the restau­rant was her de­ci­sion to es­chew an in­gre­di­ent that can be found in many top kitchens — stressed-out staff, crazy work hours and an ag­gres­sive at­ti­tude.

“We don’t make in­ap­pro­pri­ate jokes about race or sex, we are pretty straight,” Ms Glo­rie said. “We swear a lit­tle bit, but only in laugh­ter.

“My chefs don’t get yelled at, I’m not a screamer.”

Gor­don Ram­say she is not, but Ms Glo­rie said the in­dus­try was un­der­go­ing a cul­tural change, with more women on the pans and the work en­vi­ron­ment ad­just­ing to mod­ern ex­pec­ta­tions.

“It’s some­thing that chefs are talk­ing about now, that there is a new-school at­ti­tude and an old-school at­ti­tude and that’s not to say that the old­school at­ti­tude is wrong, it’s just that there are cer­tain en­vi­ron­ments in that (world) that al­low women to be vil­i­fied or judged,” she said.

“I know when I first started I had to be bet­ter than the other girls. That’s an aw­ful thing to say but women are seen as, ‘you can’t cook, you’re not strong enough, you’re in a man’s world’, sort of thing, and that’s changed sig­nif­i­cantly.

“I’ve had a lot of women chefs com­ing in and out and 100 per cent of the women who have come in have said to me that at some point in their ca­reer they felt un­safe in the work­place. Ev­ery sin­gle one.”

Bil­lie H is the first solo ven­ture of restau­ra­teur Daniel Good­sell, who spent the best part of 20 years work­ing along­side Nic Trim­boli, the man be­hind some of Perth’s most loved restau­rants, in­clud­ing Balt­hazar, Il Lido and Bread in Com­mon.

He said he hired Ms Glo­rie be­cause he recog­nised she had a unique vi­sion.

“I was kinda look­ing for some­one who was go­ing to take this on with a dif­fer­ent sort of vi­sion straight away,” Mr Good­sell said.

He said a co­he­sive team was the key to suc­cess for any restau­rant.

“The idea is ev­ery­one is work­ing to­wards the same idea and suc­cess of the place,” Mr Good­sell said.

“The chef is just as in­volved in what’s go­ing on out the front and the guys are just as in­volved with what’s hap­pen­ing out the back.”

Bil­lie H is rid­ing high on a buzz about its so­phis­ti­cated wine of­fer­ing, slick ser­vice and food that puts a classy twist on clas­sics such as dev­illed chicken liv­ers and sar­dines on toast.

“I just have a de­sire to be dif­fer­ent,” Ms Glo­rie said.

“We’re com­ing out of this food realm of molec­u­lar gastronomy and 27 dif­fer­ent things on a plate. I re­ally was bored of it, I was bored of cook­ing it, I was bored of look­ing at it, and it never re­ally felt like it was me.

“I’m not re­ally into do­ing foams and gels and pow­ders.

“Those tech­niques are great but they are not the way I wanted to di­rect this place.”

She jokes the food she likes to cook is “ugly beau­ti­ful”.

“Ini­tially we had a lot of pho­tog­ra­phers through and they re­ally strug­gled with the food, they didn’t know how to take good pho­tos (of it),” she said. “We had a leek dish that had sauce all over it, it was messy and there was a pile of cheese. From the top it didn’t look like much, from the side it was just kind of weird.”

Ms Glo­rie said restau­rants were more aware of the im­por­tance of lo­cal pro­duce.

“Now more than ever Western Aus­tralians are get­ting their iden­tity,” she said.

“So it’s not nec­es­sar­ily about, ‘Ital­ian is re­ally big this year’, or East­ern Euro­pean food or what­ever, I think ev­ery­one’s find­ing their own way.”

Sig­na­ture dishes: Alia Glo­rie is head chef at Bil­lie H, a bistro in Clare­mont chang­ing the face of Perth din­ing. Clock­wise from top left: sar­dines on toast; dev­illed liv­ers; char­grilled leak; braised oc­to­pus with pa­prika, al­monds, or­ange and chili; and smoked pork belly with white bean, pear and sage. Pic­ture: Daniel Wilkins We swear a lit­tle bit. My chefs don’t get yelled at, I’m not a screamer.

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