"On my recent trip to Dubai I have learnt that running a restaurant in Australia sucks. We do it so tough, high COGs, high wages, we have to collect the government's taxes, save for our employees retirement, pay to protect them from injury, pay outrageous fuel and power bills, make a little profit, of which we give a healthy percentage to the government not once but twice before we die. It's bullshite." Craig Squires
Regency Park College, 1980 in Adelaide, South Australia. It was brand new, like an international education, thank God for Don Dunstan!
On modern vs classic training?
I believe in both. One should know the difference from a espagnole and a estouffade and know how to cook pommes dauphinoise - yet if modern refers to Asian influenced cuisine then yes one should also be trained to make won tons, Chinese broths and sushi - there is plenty of grey in the term modern.
My training at Adelaide festival Theatre was significant - I learnt lots and it was disciplined and wide ranging. Next would be at Kensington Place in London where nearly the all the brigade came from La Gavroche - so the quality of food (sourced daily from France) and the techniques were very high. When I return to Adelaide I worked briefly with Cheong Lieu at Fish where he was 'consultant chef' so that was interesting especially for flavour combinations.
Favourite cheap eat?
Street cart mee goreng in Bali.
What keeps you going
? Compliments and teaching the next generation and about money - although as I am more involved in management than cooking these days and at the basics of running business, it is getting more complicated and expensive.
Advice to future chefs?
Taste everything. Be creative and ask questions. Of course you should be lucky to work in good establishments.
Favourite kitchen tool?
Most controversial menu item
? Possum won ton.
Favourite thing about Cairns?
Clean air, 10 minutes to home and I don't have to lock the doors.
Most useful cookbook?
The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander.
No one singularly, I pretty much made my own way.
On working as chef/owner?
Stressful but rewarding, can't even remember working for anyone one else now. I've been in this restaurant for the past 12 years.
Career you would have pursued if you didn't become a chef?
Career turning point?
It's been pretty straight - hasn't turned yet. I left school to start work and I'm still doing it 27 years later.
Chilli and sugar. I wrote one menu a few years ago and realised every savoury dish had chilli, had to start again.
On working with Kangaroo?
Excellent meat. I buy 80kg fresh cryovaced sirloin every week, we usually allow it to sit for a week before we use it. It comes in at a good price so the margin is excellent. We grill it, smoke it, and stir fry it.
Location, quality and consistency - in that order