Fame on the waters
You have to stay true to your restaurant, and if it’s around for long enough, it takes on its own life.
Born? Gruyere region in Switzerland from the German speaking side – we go back there every year.
Education? We didn’t take work experience back then, like we do now. First job was at The Savoy in London, and I won Chef of the Year then at 20 I became a Head Chef.
Favourite cheap eat? Ravi’s Indian in Crows Nest for their Jinga Peshawari, freshly hand picked Prawns marinated in “‘secret’’ marinade and simmered to perfection.
What keeps you going? Coffee and my four children.
Advice to future chefs? Move on after about three years and make yourself valuable, even on your day off. A lot of people don’t know how to get into the industry. TAFE is a good concept but you don’t learn enough.
Most useful cookbook? Great Chefs of France.
Favourite kitchen tool? My knife. I do not have one set knife but I do have some Macs, and my Victorinox knives are best for boning and butchery work.
Favourite thing about Sydney? Living on a deep waterfrontage and fishing with the family. Our chefs like fishing off the balcony next to the kitchen in their breaks, sometimes it’s the whole brigade.
Favourite sport? Skiing, I like the black runs, and watching rugby union.
On Classic vs modern cuisine? You need to learn classic cuisine first and be inquisitive, read and ask questions constantly, without this we cannot develop.
Describe Berowra Waters’ food? Sensual and intellectual flavours and more market driven.
Career if you had not become a chef? Archeologist.
Produce highlights? Yabbies and marron.
Career turning point? When I was 19 and left Europe I met a New Zealand girl and ended up in Australia.
Early infuluences? Anton Mossiman, Michel Roux and Alain Ducasse.
Cuisine philosophy? Never sacrifice anything for taste, we keep growing and learning.
Do you like to be sustainable and like cooking with kangaroo? Yes I am always looking for types of fish like a good Murray cod and have been working with kangaroo for years and years now, seared carpaccio works best.
Do chefs need a unique selling point? Yes but it shouldn’t be gimmicky.
On signature dishes? I prepare a chilled vichyssoise, ossetra and salmon caviars, beignets of Hawkesbury oysters. But signature dishes are not chosen by chefs, it gets written up on the menu and you can’t take it off. Your customers create it.
How has the culinary world changed? Back in the days when I was cooking there were not many independent restaurants, most chefs gravitated towards five star hotels; it was a good place to start and where all the best chefs worked. Now it’s the other way around. Working in hotels you can please everyone, in restaurants you are more of a statement.
Chefs or restaurants, which should receive all the fame? You have to stay true to your restaurant, and if it’s around for long enough, it takes on its own life – Forty One was that. Here at Berowra Waters, it was Australia’s first internationally renowned restaurant.
Retrospect and future? In April last year we closed Forty One after 17 years, which was a huge success, then opening up a new style of bistros called Adlib Bistro. The first one in Lindfield on the North Shore, formerly Tables in Lindfield. We’re staying on with Berowra Waters and business will be the same with six chefs, five services, three days a week.
Purveyor tip? Buy and cook it in season, it will always taste better.