Australian Chefs Ep 1
So let’s have a look at the cuisines and restaurants in Australia.
Starting with Neil Perry
Neil Perry AM is an Australian chef, restaurateur, author and television presenter. He’s also the co-ordinator for Qantas Flight Catering under his company Rockpool Consulting. He’s an expert in Asian cuisine and high-quality Korean BBQ foods.
Some of his recipes include Spicy Tamarind Prawns, Sake-braised Chicken & Tofu, Korean-style Braised Beef Short Ribs and the more traditional with a twist Rigatoni with Artichokes & Pancetta or Mussel & Saffron Risotto or Butterflied Chicken with Ricotta & Garlic Stuffing. They all sound delicious!
Perry's career in hospitality began in Sydney managing ‘Sails’ restaurants at McMahons Point and Rose Bay. By 24 he found himself gravitating towards the kitchen and discovered his passion for cooking from chefs such as Damien Pignolet, Gay Bilson, Stephanie Alexander, Steve Manfredi and David Thompson.
Perry’s restaurants include Blue Water Grill at Bondi Beach which became an overnight success in 1986, Rockpool Sydney opened in 1989 which was his mainstay restaurant in the 90s. He opened Rockpool Bar & Grill in Melbourne in 2007 as an upmarket steakhouse which has proven to be a major success, receiving great reviews and awarded two coveted "chefs hats" in the Melbourne Good Food Guide.
He opened two more restaurants in Sydney’s CBD in 2009, Spice Temple, which focused on traditional Asian cuisine with a sophisticated polish and Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney which won the Wine Spectator Grand Award.
Perry also heads a consultation team for Qantas, which he creates and controls in-flight menus. Menus are developed quarterly for International First and Business Class travellers.
Neil is also a notable food personality within Australia, appearing on food and lifestyle programs in Australia and on BBC2 in Britain.
In the Australia Day Honours List of 2013, Perry was made a Member of the Order of Australia. Neil Perry is one of Australia’s most influential chefs, he is renowned for his commitment to freshness and quality Australian produce across all of his restaurants.
Neil’s signature dishes include Cape Grim Short Rib bo ssam; a Japanese twist on a traditional Korean dish with the addition of red miso and chilli, and a smack of umami from dashi-simmered confit garlic & Goats cheese tortellini with king prawns, pine nuts and raisins, or Stir fried spanner crab omelette.
What a great fusion of food!
Up next is Maggie Beer
Maggie Beer AM is an Australian cook, food author, restaurateur, and food manufacturer from the Barossa Valley, South Australia. Beer is one of the judges on The Great Australian Bake Off alongside Matt Moran and is also a regular guest on MasterChef Australia.
Maggie grew up in Sydney and has traced her passion for food to her childhood. Despite not having formal training as a chef, Beer has had a triumphant career spanning almost five decades. After relocating to the Barossa Valley, Maggie and her husband Colin established the Farm Shop in 1979 which morphed into the Pheasant Farm Restaurant later that year. The restaurant became known for serving locally sourced pheasant as well as a pâté, known as Pheasant Farm Pate. In 1991 the restaurant was awarded the Remy Martin Cognac – Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year award. Maggie and Colin operated the hugely successful restaurant until 1993. She then became a partner in the Charlick's Feed Store restaurant in Adelaide.
Currently, Beer operates a business in the Barossa which produces a range of gourmet foods, including Pheasant Farm Pate, quince paste, verjuice and gourmet ice creams. She co-hosted the ABC television cooking program The Cook and the Chef with Simon Bryant, then Head Chef for the Hilton, Adelaide.
Maggie has written books about food and food preparation, as well as co-authoring a book with noted cook, restaurateur and food writer Stephanie Alexander. One of her co-written books, Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer's Tuscan Cook, has been translated into five different languages.
In 1997, Beer was the Telstra South Australian Business Woman of the Year and was awarded the Centenary Medal on 1 January 2001 for service to Australian society through cooking and writing. Then was awarded the "Senior Australian of the Year" in 2010.
In the Australia Day Honours of 2012, Maggie Beer was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and in 2016 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of South Australia.
Apart from her range of gourmet foods Maggie’s recipes focus on seasonal quality produce. Think Braised Beef Cheeks in Verjuice and Mustard Marinade, Baked Stuffed Quail with Vino Cotto and Rocket, Barbeque Lemon Myrtle Prawns with Sorrel Mayonnaise, Bacon and Cavolo Nero Tart with Walnut Pastry, Blood Orange Seville Marmalade and Almond Cake and Coffee Vino Cotto Tart with Bitter Oranges.
What an incredible use of seasonal produce!
Moving onto Shannon Bennett
Shannon Bennett is an Australian chef and author. He is best known as the head chef of restaurant Vue de Monde at the top of Melbourne's Rialto Tower, regarded by many as one of the best restaurants in Melbourne. Bennett currently serves as the creative director at the restaurant and its parent company Vue Groups, having previously been the executive chef.
He describes his cooking style as French based with a focus on fresh local produce. Elaborate deserts like deconstructed Pavlova; Bistro Vue dessert, which is a very fancy chocolate peanut bar and Pear Tarte Tatin are part of his repertoire.
Bennett also owns and operates several other hospitality venues in Melbourne – Vue Events at Rialto, The Lui Bar, Bistro Vue, Benny Burger and Café Vue in two locations - and has written six books. He has appeared on a number of Australian food television shows and he is a brand ambassador for Miele, Audi and Nespresso. He’s also made many appearances as a guest judge on the popular cooking show MasterChef Australia.
Shannon trained at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne for 3 years as an apprentice before working for John Burton Race for 2 years, Marco Pierre White for over 2 years, and Alain Ducasse at Hotel de Paris for a year. In 2003, he was awarded Gourmet Traveller Magazine's inaugural Best New Talent title.
He was invited to be the first Australian member of the associations Jeunes Restaurateurs D’Europe and Le Grand Tables Du Monde. In 2007 Bennett was a guest chef at New York's Star Chefs Congress. Vue de Monde was awarded Restaurant of the Year in The Age Good Food Guide in 2013 and 2014.
On the Vue de Monde menu you’ll find Moonlight Kiss Oysters with Native Citrus; Macadamia Tofu with Kelp & Caviar; WA Marron Curry; Lamb Saddle & Wild Garlic; Rivermint Kangaroo; Cantaloupe & Green Ants and Chocolate Souffle with Billy Tea Icecream. Classic fine dining in a modern context with native Australian ingredients, an unforgettable dining experience.
Amazing..Moonlight Kiss Oysters wow!
Kylie Kwong’s next
Kylie Kwong is an Australian television chef, author, television presenter and restaurateur.
She learnt the fundamentals of Cantonese cooking from her mother's side but undertook much of her apprenticeship at Neil Perry's Rockpool and later at Restaurant Manfredi.
Kwong opened her first restaurant, Billy Kwong in Surry Hills, in Sydney in 2000 with Sydney celebrity chef Bill Granger. Kwong later relocated the restaurant to Potts Point and teamed up with HK chef Andrew Cibej.
The restaurant made a commitment in 2005 to only using organic and biodynamic food. All the soy sauces, sugar, vinegar and oils used to flavour food are organic. Kylie’s philosophy is all about healthy, life-giving, precious food that’s sustainable. Billy Kwong received the inaugural Sustainability Award in 2009 from the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
In 2019 Kwong announced the closure of Billy Kwong in her fiftieth year, but then in 2021 opened a cafeteria-style dining venue, Lucky Kwong, named after the son she and her wife lost in 2012.
Kylie has released five books, all of which share her love of cooking and explore many different facets of Chinese culture and cuisine. She appeared in three TV series on the ABC, Foxtel and on Discovery Home in the US.
In 2012 she appeared as a guest chef in the fourth series of MasterChef Australia and returned as a guest judge in the sixth series and guest mentor in the eighth series.
Kylie’s favourite Cantonese recipes include Caramelised pork belly with Chinese coleslaw; Spanner crab and ginger dumplings with chilli oil; Stir fried beef with black bean sauce and chilli; Grilled black Berkshire pig with organic sweet and sour sauce; Chinese barbequed sticky pork ribs and Stir fried bean thread noodles with black bean and chilli mussels.
Great Cantonese food often with an Indigenous ingredient twist!
Up next is Curtis Stone
Curtis Stone is an Australian celebrity chef, author and television personality. Stone has been the fresh food and recipes ambassador for Coles Supermarkets in Australia since 2010.
Stone began cooking with his paternal grandmother, at the age of four then after High School went onto a commercial cookery apprenticeship.
He worked in Australian restaurants before leaving to work in London at 18 at the Savoy Hotel. Upon completing his qualifications as a chef, Stone began cooking under Marco Pierre White at Café Royal and went on to become head chef at White's Quo Vadis.
Stone has appeared on a number of cooking programmes in the UK, including Dinner in a Box, Good Food Live and Saturday Kitchen. He also hosted the first season of My Restaurant Rules in Australia. Beginning in May 2006, Stone hosted Take Home Chef in the US, which went on to become an international hit for TLC. He also featured on the Australian travelling cooking show Surfing the Menu on the ABC with Ben O'Donoghue.
In 2014, Curtis opened his first restaurant, Maude, in Beverly Hills which is named after his paternal grandmother. Maude was awarded a Michelin star in the 2019 Michelin Guide for California. Stone opened a second restaurant, Gwen, in Hollywood in 2016, named after his maternal grandmother.
Stone is best known in Australia for his more than a decade's long partnership with Coles Supermarket. He’s also known for his fresh, seasonal Australian-style meat dishes, which have been the inspiration behind six cookbooks.
Amongst his top ten dishes you’ll find Duck Duck Goose Raviolo; Ahi Tuna Fish Tacos; Scallop Crudo; Mum’s Pork-leg Roast and Granny Maude’s Fudge.
What a mixture of delights!
Now for an Australian legendary cook..Stephanie Alexander
Stephanie Alexander AO is an Australian cook, restaurateur and food writer. She learnt her trade over 30 years as owner-chef of various restaurants, but she’s best known as one of Australia’s premier food educators. First published in 1996, her book The Cook’s Companion is a staple of more than half a million Aussie kitchens.
After studying to become a librarian and travelling the world at the age of 21, Alexander's first restaurant, Jamaica House, opened in 1964. In 1976, her next venture was Stephanie's Restaurant, located in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy before moving to the middle-class suburb of Hawthorn in 1980. Stephanie's Restaurant closed in 1997 after operating for 21 years. She went on to publish several cookbooks, including her alphabetical guide to ingredients and cooking, The Cook's Companion.
In February 2004 the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation was established. This not-for-profit organisation is dedicated to supporting schools introducing pleasurable food education, teaching students to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal, delicious food.
On 26 January 1994, Alexander was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of services to the hospitality and the tourist industry. On 1 January 2001, she was awarded the Centenary Medal for outstanding service to the food and wine industry in Victoria. On 26 January 2014, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to education through the design and establishment of schools-based learning programs promoting improved food and eating choices for children, and as an author.
To date Alexander has published 17 books; amongst them is The Cook's Companion (1996, revised 2004, revised 2014); A Shared Table (2000) and Tuscan Cookbook co-written with Maggie Beer (2003).
Alexander is a champion of the quality & diversity of Australian food, many of her recipes are staples for Australian kitchens. The Cooks Companion is like an A to Z of how to make Bread and Butter pudding or the classic Pavlova but Stephanie’s signature dishes include Baked fish in a North African ginger marinade; Chicken with red-wine vinegar and tomato; Frenched lamb cutlets with anchovy, mint and young peas and Glazed barbecued belly pork to name a few.
Good wholesome Australian food with all it’s mixed influences.
Now here’s a character..George Calombaris
George Calombaris is an Australian chef and restaurateur. Calombaris was one of the founding judges on MasterChef Australia from 2009 to 2019. Prior to this Calombaris appeared regularly on the cooking show Ready Steady Cook.
He owned several restaurants in Melbourne, his flagship restaurant, The Press Club, was awarded The Age Good Food Guide "Best New Restaurant 2008" with Calombaris named "Chef of the Year 2008". George draws on his Greek, Cypriot and Italian heritage for inspiration.
George has a number of accolades, at the age of 24, he won Young Chef of the Year, Best New Restaurant and two chef's hats in The Age Good Food Guide. In 2004, the Global Food and Wine Magazine voted him as one of the Top 40 chefs of influence in the world.
In 2018 he partnered with Qatar Airways to create an in-flight dining menu based on Greek flavours and dishes.
Calombaris has published five cookbooks including The Press Club, Hellenic Republic, Greek Cooking from The Hellenic Heart, Your Place or Mine and Cook With Us with MasterChef Australia co-judge, Gary Mehigan.
George is well known for his Hellenic dishes like Saganaki with Peppered Figs; Greek Lamb with Fennel & Parsley; Spring Bay Scallops with Tarama; Lamb Souvlaki; and Turkish delight filled Doughnuts.
Lamb Souvlaki..so delicious!
And lastly the Paleo chef Pete Evans
Pete Evans is an Australian chef, activist and television presenter, who was a judge of the competitive cooking show My Kitchen Rules.
He owned and ran restaurants in Sydney in the early 2000s; Hugos Bondi, Hugos Lounge, Hugos Bar Pizza and Hugos Manly. The group were awarded eight Sydney Morning Herald 'Chef's Hats', 21 'Best in Australia' awards, and three 'Best pizza in Australia' awards at the Australian Fine Food Show. In 2005, Hugos won 'Best pizza in the world' at the American Pizza Challenge in New York City.
Evans was a judge on My Kitchen Rules (MKR) with co-host Manu Feildel. The fourth series of MKR won the Logie Award for the Most Popular Reality Program and in 2015 it was the highest rated reality TV show with about two million weekly viewers. Evans also hosted A Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking, which aired on PBS in the US and was nominated in 2014 for a Daytime Emmy Award.
In 2017, Evans produced and narrated a Netflix documentary called The Magic Pill, which promoted the ketogenic diet, and claimed that it can help manage autism, asthma and cancer.
He’s published 8 books and has recipe columns in The Australian Women's Weekly, Selector magazine and Home Beautiful. His food and diet philosophies follow the Keto and Paleo diets and has been criticised for his strong alternative medicine opinions.
His recipes are heavily Paleo influenced, generally gluten-free, low sugar and dairy-free like Kale Hummus, Pork Cutlets with Cabbage, Raw Cauliflower Tabbouleh and Key Lime Tart. The Paleo lifestyle is low in processed, sugary foods and high is quality protein, fresh fruit and vegetables. Pete is dedicated to educating people about nutritional food and wellness.
It makes me hungry seeing all of these delicious recipes.
So that’s our first list of Australian cooks and chefs who have developed a rich and vibrant food scene in Australia.
Stay tuned as we keep exploring Australia’s chefs and popular restaurants.
Bye for now!