Chef and co-owner. Swallow Bar, Maylands, Perth
BEST RECENT DINING EXPERIENCE: At Franklin in Hobart. Diced calamari with nettles, crumbs and grains. It was bright green & textural, zesty and creamy with a great balance of flavours. Very comforting on a freezing winter night! Or is that just Tasmania most of the year?
MUST-BUY INGREDIENT: We use Forum vinegars at so many stages in our cooking. We had a visit from Alberto, one of the makers. It was great to hear the stories and history of these beautiful Spanish vinegars.
MOST EMBARRASSING PANTRY ITEM: I have a little box of Mac’n’Cheese hidden way in the back for when I need a little nostalgic comfort food.
CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: Australian garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salted butter … and good champagne!
WHAT I’M COOKING AT HOME: If I have time, I love reading cookbooks when I’m really hungry and then choosing something that really makes my mouth water. It’s added satisfaction. Otherwise it’s something I’m craving like orzo with peas, chicken stock and butter.
THE NEXT BIG THING: You never know … maybe it’ll be pre-Soviet Era cuisine, all aspic and caviar with blinis and vodka.
I HATE: Insincerity and apathetic service. You can tell from the moment you enter a place; sometimes I feel like turning around and walking out. A warm smile and good old-fashioned hospitality go a long way.
FAVOURITE CUISINE: Italian is my comfort food, Japanese excites me and French is the backbone to our cooking at Swallow, which I’ve obviously got a soft spot for.
WORST MEAL: I had a housemate who cooked what he called “fridge specials”. I’ve blanked most of them out but essentially he’d take anything he could find in the fridge: leftovers, sauces, vegetables, unidentifiable things and turn it into a giant pancake. Truly horrible.
BIGGEST CULINARY INFLUENCE: There isn’t a single influence but a procession of influential women. My mum and grandmothers awakened my desire to cook when I was 10; Stephanie Alexander in my formative years and then working at Richmond Hill Café and Larder. And Zoe Roy, my partner and co-owner at Swallow is always an inspiration. I’ll have an idea and she immediately helps it happen; she never falters or hesitates. In the kitchen she’s formidable, with a big heart and a natural talent for what she does.
FAVOURITE COOKBOOK: Oh honestly, so many. I love Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries and Claudia Roden’s
Arabesque, to name a couple. And back to Stephanie Alexander, the first edition of The Cook’s Companion was like a bible. It opened my eyes and really broadened my understanding of ingredients.
LAST SUPPER: There would be Aperol spritz and Ruinart Blanc de Blanc Champagne on the beach at sunset with my family and friends sitting around a long table, sharing a huge bowl of lobster, tomato and garlic spaghetti … and then camembert, beaufort & roquefort cheese with a bottomless bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.