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Young guns: Perth's next superstar chefs

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by April 15, 2017 General

They’re the future of Perth’s culinary scene, despite already plying their craft in some of our top kitchens around town.

Now Jayden Baggett (The Shorehouse), Benn Rowe (Rockpool), Amanda Yong (Wildflower) and Luke Foyle (Lulu la Delizia) have been hand-picked by some of the city’s top chefs as the next generation in Perth’s kitchens.

The quartet will join forces for a one-off Sunday lunch later this month as part of the WAtoday Good Food Month, cooking under the guidance of Shorehouse head chef and former The Age Good Food Guide Young Chef of the Year, Ollie Gould.

The four-course lunch, which includes matching drinks, will provide a first-hand look at the food that inspires our next culinary stars. David Prestipino meets the chefs behind the soiree.

Jayden Baggett – The Shorehouse:

What is your favourite dish to cook and why?
My favourite food to cook would actually be pasta, though it has to be from scratch. The reason why is because my Dad was a chef, he has since left the industry, and I remember that when I was about 12 he got a pasta machine. So every Sunday Dad would bring me into the kitchen and we would try a new recipe for dough. Even after we had the recipe down to a fine art, Dad would still ask me to help out. There was something so fun and relaxing about kneading the dough and roll out on the machine. Now whenever I make pasta it fills me with a sense of home and that’s something I would like to bring to all my food.

What wine would you pair this dish with?
I’m not much a sommelier but I do enjoy a nice glass of Voyager Estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon with a Sugo based pasta, or a Vasse Felix Chardonnay with a cream or egg yolk base. But as I said I’m no sommelier, and I believe wine pairing is one of many skills I need improve on as I am a young chef and in my opinion still have much to learn.

What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with and why?
My favourite ingredient to work with is a hard question to answer, I don’t prefer any ingredient over another for the most part but I do have a preference for season and style and that would be winter and proper low and slow barbeque. There’s nothing better than have a beautifully prepared rack of ribs or pulled brisket on a rainy summer’s day and I love the smell of the meat cooking over charcoals, the feel of crunchy Pan roasted potatoes. It just feels me with a great sense of joy and pride making the whole day feel better.

What’s some of the new food trends we’re likely to see in 2017?
I believe 2017 will follow on the trend of 2016, which at least as far as I saw was the reimagining and revitalising of old favourites. I feel that it mainly influenced pizza and barbeque last year but this year it would be good to see some of the forgotten cuisines like Indian and Chinese which all take for granted as “take away” cuisine get new blood and new life and bring about more authentic and refined dishes.

Who is/was your inspiration to get into cooking?
My biggest inspiration for cooking is in a way a tie between Heston Blumenthal and one of my old head chefs Nathan Thomas. Heston’s scientific approach to food really spoke to me as I was always encouraged to experiment with food and learn more about science and how it is in our everyday life. So when I read the Fat Duck for the first time I was fascinated with the ideas and creations that I was seeing. I was keen to try and replicate some of those ideas in the upcoming event. Nathan inspired me for a very different reason. Nathan showed me what a chef should be, devoted to his crafted, never accept second best if you know you can do better, never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself, there is no such thing as “nothing to do”, if work needs doing just get in it done, don’t accept whatever someone tells you at face value, ask questions, and work hard but also work smart. These are the values I try to take with me to every job and in everything I do really.

Do shows like Masterchef help or hinder your industry?
I believe those types of shows are unrealistic but are over all a good thing for the industry. It shows how much work can go into a single dish and brings attention to the restaurant industry. They do however lead many aspiring chefs down a path of thinking that every day you just have to produce 1 dish in 2 hours. Oh how I wish it was like that in real life! But overall I believe that many apprentices will say that Masterchef was one of the key factors into their interest in cooking. 

Benn Rowe – Rockpool:

What is your favourite dish to cook and why?
At the moment my favourite dish to cook is probably Laksa, starting with a base of prawns heads and heaps of lemon grass. What I like to cook is always changing, but I love the way flavours develop when you’ve created your own paste and slowly build upon it. 

What wine would you pair this dish with?
It’s not for everyone, but organic wine makers from Margaret River, Si Vintners – Baba Yaga – it’s a Sauvignon Blanc with a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon skin contact that stains it a lovely pink. If you can’t find that, any Sauv Blanc is fine to sit alongside the fresh, spicy flavours of Laksa.

What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with and why?
Favourite ingredient is a difficult question, but I’d have to say pork. It’s so versatile and flavoursome and there are so many different cuts that can be used in totally different ways. I also love prawns and mushrooms.  

What’s some of the new food trends we’re likely to see in 2017?
2017 in Australia is going to be the year of the Ceviche. Restaurants in the know already have it all over their menus – it’s huge in the US at the moment and it won’t be long until Peruvian style Cevicheria’s are popping up all over the place here too. I think a bit of a resurgence of Mexican food also, but more traditional home cooked style – not just tacos. 

Who is/was your inspiration to get into cooking?
My inspiration to get into cooking is probably my family. The first thing I can remember cooking is Bolognese with my dad. As a kid it always tastes better when you’ve helped. My Aunt and Uncle also have a restaurant in Darwin and visiting there when I was young was always so exciting and was a lot of fun in the kitchen. 

Do shows like Masterchef help or hinder your industry?
I think reality shows are both good and bad for our industry. Hopefully some of the programs highlight what chefs and hospitality workers have to endure and how much hard work it actually is. Also the costs involved in bringing the food to the table at the highest quality possible. Perhaps it helps a little with education on how food should be prepared, but remember you know what you like, not what someone tells you that you should like. Don’t go with pre-conceptions. The best meals are enjoyed when you are happy. 

Amanda Yong – Wildflower:

What’s your favourite dish to cook and why?
Molten chocolate lava, white chocolate semi freddo and honeycomb. This dessert is easy to make but to execute it properly makes it even harder. It tests my technique and skills to make the chocolate cake liquid centre, the fluffy and nice honeycomb, and making sure the white chocolate is incorporated well in the cake.

What wine would you pair this dish with?
Clairault 2013 cellar release cane cut Riesling. It has a concentrated sweetness developing into a broad, toasty finish dappled with hints of shaved almond and toasted spices. The syrupy texture is elegantly balanced out with a succulent acidity and spring-blossom finish. The desserts that I create are less sugar and I always strive for a balanced flavour, so this wine brings out sweetness and the aroma of the dessert.

What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with and why?
Strawberries, it may look simple but it tastes delicious. Sweet with a little acidity that brings a balanced flavour. There are many different ways to use it, from fresh to dried, poaching, compressed, different methods of cooking bring out different flavour of the strawberries.

What’s some of the new food trends we’re likely to see in 2017?
Generally, in 2017 the new food trends are people striving for healthier food and less food wastage. People are more health conscious, eat healthy whilst knowing where the produce is coming from (supporting more local farmers) and also people are supporting less food wastage to save the environment.

Who is/was your inspiration to get into cooking?
Chef Frederic Deshayes. I wasn’t a very good student in school but I always had a passion for cooking. I enrolled myself to a culinary school in Singapore and I saw the passion, the works and enthusiasm of Chef Frederic which inspired me to work hard and strive for the best to be a Pastry chef.

Do shows like Masterchef help or hinder your industry?
Of course there are pro and cons. I think they help and in fact I think that it’s a good reality show as it shows how much effort chefs put into a dish that is well executed. People will know that it’s really not easy doing a job like this and understand the hard work that is put into it.

Luke Foyle – Lulu la Delizia:

What’s your favourite dish to cook and why?
Favourite dish I feel is too specific. I really enjoy butchery and working with off-cuts that people rarely use. Things like tongue, trotters, pigs tails.

What wine would you pair this dish with?
I honestly don’t know much about wine, I leave that to the experts!

What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with and why?
That’s a toss-up between butter and salt. They are both integral to all cooking

What’s some of the new food trends we’re likely to see in 2017?
I stay away from trends and thinking about them, I cook food that I like and I’m interested in. I feel it’s more honest to yourself that way.

Who is/was your inspiration to get into cooking?
That I don’t really know, I’ve always wanted to cook and to be a chef from a very young age, it’s just want I’ve always wanted.

Do shows like Masterchef help or hinder your industry?
It’s a double edged sword. It’s good in that a lot more people are interested in food and the restaurant experience, but at the same time I feel it can give people misconceptions about the industry.

The Young Chefs Lunch will be held at The Shorehouse on April 23 from 1pm to 4pm. Tickets are $150 per person, including a four-course lunch and matching drinks, with shared seating and canapes on arrival.

Tickets are available at www.goodfoodmonth.com/perth

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