I come from the countryside in Wales, and I was never too fussed on cities. It was just where I went because that’s where the jobs were. I’ve been on the Mornington Peninsula for seven years now, so I’m settled and I’m not really going anywhere. It’s a nice part of the world and it suits me well because I like being by the beach. I still forage here and there, and I can go out and grab a few things; it speaks to the nature of the area.

Arilla has a massive property, and they don’t do anything to change it, they just leave it and there are lots of birds and animals. It suits me in the sense that it’s just like my art and my personality.

It’s not easy to [source ingredients] locally, but I try to stay within the confines of Victoria. It’s a sensible thing to do anyway because I don’t want people questioning why I’ve got strawberries on in winter. I find it’s a point of pride.

I would say [the menu] is modern Australian, which is quite a broad style of food. It’s simple in appearance, but it’s familiar as well. I’m not doing anything silly; I stick to flavour profiles people understand. The beef cheeks are popular and I do them with Paris mash. I call it Paris mash, but it just means there’s a lot of butter in it.

Another dish is an entrée where I bone chicken wingettes. It’s a cheaper cut, but is still a nice piece of meat. We serve them with dashi stock, fried egg, chilli and nori. I used to have the stock in a breakfast made by a Japanese chef I worked with and I loved it. People are always impressed by it.

My time at Quay helped me understand the importance of processes. If you’ve got a process, it’s important to stick to it and keep it detailed and consistent. Quay is more selective and places ingredients in a non-symmetrical way, whereas Vue de monde
serves [dishes] more organically. I use the Vue de monde approach more in my day to day because it’s easy to execute if you’re willing to be adventurous.

My experience at Arilla has been great so far. The owners are all nice, humble and easy to work with. There’s plenty of understanding these days and everybody wants to have a healthier work–life balance. People really care and it’s become an important part of life here.