“I grew up in south west Sydney in a little country town called Camden — I realized in Year 7 Home Economics that I wanted to be a chef. I wanted to be Peter Gilmore. Four years later, I started my first apprenticeship at Hogs Breath Café. I started at the National Indigenous Culinary Institute at William Angliss College; it was an opportunity for young chefs to work at some big restaurants. I learned a lot — how to prepare and serve food as quickly and efficiently as possible, and the difference ingredients could have on taste and flavour. I dabbled in pastry for a bit, but ended up working in London at Dinner by Heston, Heston Blumenthal’s flagship restaurant.
I try to eat healthy when I come home. For breakfast, I make poached eggs on toast with avocado, mushrooms and baby spinach. Lunch is usually grilled white fish with steamed veggies. Most of the time when I come home, all I want is carbs and sugar. I usually opt for a Nutella sandwich, it really is satisfying. Almost as satisfying as taking my bra off the second I get home – it’s the best feeling in the world!
Dinner-wise, lasagne is my weakness. Anything Italian, really. My mum used to make homemade lasagne for me all the time. I still ask for it every year on my birthday. The beautiful cream bechamel between layers of pasta with a rich tomato sauce and loads and loads of cheese — my mouth is now watering. Dessert would be anything with caramel or chocolate or both. My favourite is banoffee pie, when I can muster up the energy to make it.
I’m back in Sydney now, at Benjamin & Daughters, and I love it! It’s crazy to think that I’ve been to London, Melbourne, and back by age 21. I know I’m young – I’ve had to really stand up for myself and fight for my passion. Being around other chefs helps a lot – working with older chefs like Brett Graham and Heston Blumenthal remind me how far your passion can take you.
I haven’t forgotten my roots. The National Indigenous Culinary Institute has supported me so much. If I could cook a meal for anyone, it’d be for my mum, my dad and my Nan. I’d do a three course meal with indigenous, locally-sourced ingredients and techniques. Though let’s be honest, when we’re at home, my mum still does all the cooking.”