Dave Pynt: the chef & the restaurateur

young chef, waiter & restaurateur 2017 applications are open. Why not apply?

How did you become a chef?

I became a chef because I like eating, it’s as simple as that.  I sort of fell into cooking as university didn’t appeal and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But I really enjoyed being in the kitchen so it all started with making pizza in a local restaurant in Perth. My passion for cooking really started probably at Tetsuya’s when you see the level & skill that you can achieve. You really get driven by the people around you, the environment to produce top quality food. When you’re doing good things, you become proud and passionate about what you are doing.

A piece advice for a younger version of yourself?

Eat more, work harder and read a lot more. I thought I worked relatively hard but the fact is the more time you spend in a kitchen or in a restaurant the more you learn and the more you see. You don’t learn or see those things by not being in a kitchen or a restaurant

Some advice for young chefs?

If you are staging, to read books about philosophy or cook books about where they go into details about what they thought about, what they like what they did in their spare time it gives you an insight into the way they thought about and approached food. if you’re reading this books you’re going to get a lot more about how to structure the way you want your restaurant or run your kitchen or the food that you want to create.

Why did you become involved and what are you looking for as a judge this year?

It’s important to give back to the [hospitality] community and the next generation of people that might want to open restaurants. What really excited me about last year was the chefs really wanted to be there and show of the skills that they had.

This year at the national & final cook off, I’m looking for young chefs that have drive, motivation, knowledge, skills and a good attitude. Not necessarily fine dining skills, but knowing what to do with different produce.

Some tips for the chefs?

Calm down, take a bit of time to plan & think about what you want to produce & what you need to produce and then do it better than anyone else.

Recipe: BBQ Asparagus, bone marrow, marmalade, eggs & macadamia

Simon Tarlington @ Highline Restaurant

This recipe utilises farm produce and some of Australia’s most unique produce. One of my favourite times of the year is when the very short season of Victorian asparagus starts and we only keep it on the menu while it is at its peak. The recipe also uses citrus from  our orchard that is too sour to serve as a fresh product.


Ingredients – serves 6

You’ll need to start this recipe at least 1 – 2 days in advance

For the Asparagus

  • 24 pieces fresh asparagus
  • 3 beef bone marrow bones split by your butcher
  • 200g cherry wood chips
  • 200g salt
  • 2L cold water
  • Wood BBQ and red gum


Add salt to the water and soak bone marrow in the fridge for 24 hours. After 24 hours remove the bone marrow, pat dry with paper towel and smoke at 65 degrees calices for 15 min. Once smoked transfer back to the fridge and allow to cool. When the marrow is cold remove from the bone and roll together in cling film to resemble the shape of a sausage, then freeze in the freezer. Remove the woody end of the asparagus and all the leaves growing along the side of the spears. Once the marrow is frozen grate over the asparagus using a micro plane, then BBQ over the red gum.


For the Marmalade

  • 4 limes
  • 3 lemons
  • 8 Oranges
  • 6 mandarins
  • 120g Sugar
  • 40ml Water
  • 2g Pectin


Using zester, zest the lemons, limes and oranges being careful not to get too much pift. Place zest in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil and then strain, add cold water and repeat this same process 3 times. Leave the zest to the side.

Peel and then segment the citrus fruit over a bowl so that you capture all the juice. Squeeze the leftover core of the citrus to collect us much juice as possible, set aside. Mix 30g of sugar with pectin and pass through a fine sieve to break up any lumps. Place the remaining Sugar, Water and citrus in its juice in a pot and warm to 60 degrees then add sugar and pectin mix.  Bring up to boil, and add zest. Cook out on a low heat until reduced to jam consistency. Keep in preserving jars.


For the Egg Puree

  • 5 eggs
  • Salt to taste


Cook eggs in a water bath at 65 degrees calices for 2 hours. After 2 hours crack the eggs into bowl and remove the yolks. Season the yolks and then push through a fine sieve.


For the Egg Emulation

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200ml melted burnt butter
  • 1 lemon
  • Cream gun and 2 cream charges
  • Salt to taste


Add eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice to a metal bowl. Season with salt and whisk till light and fluffy over a pot of boiling water. When light and fluffy whisk burnt butter into eggs in 4 stages making sure you don’t add the butter to fast or it won’t hold together and separate. Once all combined add to the cream gun and charge with 2 charges, shake 15 times before serving.


For the Macadamia nuts

  • 10 Macadamia nuts


Toast macadamia nuts in oven at 160 degrees calices till golden brown, this will take about 8-10min. Allow to cool then shave fine on mandolin.


For serving

In the restaurant we season with fermented mushroom powder just before leaving the kitchen. We also add fresh golden trout roe and salad burnet leaves.









Recipe: Wallis Lake Bonito in warm pickle of tarragon and garlic

A highlight of the national finalists produce tour through NSW this year was having the opportunity to cook for the fisher community of Wallis Lake at a pop up restaurant at the Forster Tuncurry race track. The young chefs chose from that morning’s catch thanks to the Wallis Lake Fisherman’s Co-Op. Below is the recipe for the Wallis Lake Bonito the team of young chef Zack Furst; young waiter Morgan Golledge & young restaurateur Dave Parker put together for the dinner. Morgan recommends matching, ‘I would go an Italian white blend like Occhipinti Bianco. Something with texture but still great acidity and slight oxidative nuttiness. If you can get your hands on that it’s a winner otherwise Brash Higgins Zibbibo or anything premium with skin contact, depth and driving acid’.

Ingredients – serves 4

1 x whole bonito – you can ask your fish monger to gut & scale if you prefer

1 x cucumber

100g shallots

1 bunch tarragon

2 x garlic cloves

50mls olive oil

200ml sweet chardonnay vinegar

Pinch  sugar

Flaked salt to taste


For the Bonito

* Wash and gut bonito
* Fillet bonito, then remove ribs and then slice down the spine separating the top fillet and belly.
* Finally carve out the pin bones wipe dry and sit in a stainless steel deep tray.

For the Finishing Salad

* With 50g shallots slice super fine and place in steel bowl.
* Then julienne the cucumber
* Fold through shallots and dress with a small amount of olive oil and salt

For the warm pickle

* Slice 50g of the shallots and the 2 garlic cloves thinly,
* Place in a medium size pot and cover with sweet Chardonnay vinegar and 100mls of water.
* Bring to a slow simmer, add tarragon, olive oil and allow to steep for 45 minutes.
* Season with salt and a small amount of sugar.

To finish

* Bring the warm pickle to a simmer then pour over bonito.
* Allow the bonito to steep for 20 minutes.
* Remove fillets onto paper towel.
* Finally place fillets neatly in the centre of desired dish
* Then cover fish in the fresh  finishing salad
* Add some flaked salt and serve with lemon slices.

When your kitchen garden is a stunning 2000 acres

Restaurants and chefs are getting more involved in understanding the supply chain of how their produce arrives to their door and how it is grown.  It goes beyond the source to researching the principals behind the farmers, their practices and philosophy. For the last few years, they and restaurateurs have been taking it a step further purchasing their own farms that are way more than the kitchen garden.

Located in the Strathbogie Ranges in Victoria sits Oak Valley Farm, a 2000 acre farm. With a remarkable range of produce – from livestock to fruit from the orchards and vegetables in the garden – it’s a chefs delight. But in this instance it is just one chef, Simon Tarlington, the head chef at Highline Restaurant in Windsor that has sole use of the produce. Both the farm and the restaurant (located in The Railway Hotel) are owned by Wayne Sullivan who as luck would have it has a love of good food and wine. We spoke to chef Simon Tarlington to hear how he works with the farm to create dishes for the menu and restaurant;

What is produced on the farm and how do you decided what to use? 

We can’t produce everything at the farm but what we do produce we utilise on the menus as a main component such as beef, lamb, pork, honey, eggs, fruit from the orchards and heirloom vegetables from the gardens. What we can’t grow at the farm, such as seafood, we source from like- minded suppliers that strongly believe in creating a sustainable supply chain that is low on food miles and contributes to rather than detracts from the environment.

Whilst I try to get up to the farm as often as I can, with the demands of the kitchen this is not as regularly as I would like. But when creating new menus, or when the is a change of season I make sure that I spend as much time at Oak Valley as possible. This helps inspire me too. Otherwise, every week I meet with the owner (Wayne Sullivan) who spends 5 days a week at the farm and General Manger Peter McCormack to discuss what’s growing, being harvested, planted, or needs to be utilised and when the livestock is ready. It’s a little different to ordering direct from suppliers especially with livestock as you need to allow additional time for the livestock to be butchered after the abattoir.

young chef, waiter & restaurateur 2017 applications are open. Why not apply?

What is satisfying about being able to source your ingredients this way?

My cooking philosophy is farm to table focusing on fresh flavours, seasonal produce and sustainable practices. I have always believed in supporting local suppliers and farmers that highlight the best of our vast range of unique produce within Australia. Working at Highline and Oak Valley has given me a better understanding of farm to table.  I get a great deal of satisfaction from planting a seed, watching it grow and eventually being able to use the end produce on a dish.

By being involved in the process it has given me the utmost respect for all farmers and the amount of work that goes into creating produce. It also provides you with a much greater appreciation of how reliant we are on mother nature. This has taught my team and I to utilise these products in the best way possible, pushing us as chefs to create new and interesting menu items with no waste.


What are the farm values & how does this tie in to your food and restaurant philosophy?

Our farming philosophy is quite simple, that is, minimal intervention and only using sustainable practices. We use organic fertilizers sourced locally from a poultry farm along with the horse stud on our pastures. We do not deep rip our paddocks, we use solar power on our pumps, we manually control weeds, we do not do any broad acre spraying, we do not overgraze our land ie we have a low stocking density, we parallel rip to reduce soil erosion and we are a member of the Burnt Creek Landcare Group. As a result of our plantations we are carbon positive and our produce has very low food miles. All of this ties in with our food and restaurant philosophy of sustainability. If a product has not grown to the way we were predicting we have no choice but to utilise it in any way we can. Fallen fruits and overgrown vegetables are feed to the pigs, food scraps, coffee grinds and old shredded menus are collected in the hotel and used for compost. Excess produce is used for preserves and meats are cured.


Farm aside, how do you continue to evolve as a chef?

I read a lot, talk to other chefs and dine out whenever I have a chance. I always continue to evolve as a chef by incorporating new ingredients, refining my technique and learning new things every day from my work colleagues, farmers and suppliers. There is so much changing in our industry everyday and it would be ignorant of me to turn my back on new ideas.


Did participating in Appetite for Excellence help you in anyway and if so in what way?

As a national finalists in 2014, I was asked lots of question on my beliefs of the industry, trends and my philosophy throughout program . If it wasn’t for these questions I don’t think I would have ever stopped to think about the path I wanted to take in the industry, where I wanted my career to go and my impact on the supply chain.


The success and failure of the Wallis Lake Fisherman’s Co-Op is driven by its people

Wallis Lake Fisherman’s Co-operative by Andy Day & Cam Cansdell

Established in 1947 to become the voice of the local fisherman in the area of Forster Tuncurry and the central receiving depot to handle the daily catch & distribution, the Co-op members today are made up of the children; grandchildren and great grandchildren of the original fisherman.

The cooperative itself stands not to make a profit (and hopefully not a loss!) but to represent the collective will of its members and improve the profitability and welfare of the 50 active and 40 non-active shareholders.

Several years ago the Co-op found itself on its knees in a state of financial disrepair, facing bankruptcy, and fighting to keep shareholders.

70% of the Co-ops activities on the water take place on Wallis Lake itself and its surrounding estuaries and this is where we find ourselves today, observing and absorbing the passion of the Co-op’s Operations Manager Suzie McEnallay, member Danny Elliott and the Co-op Chairman Greg Colby.


Blessed with blue skies and crystal-clear water for the day it’s easy to be lulled into the belief that life’s a breeze here in paradise.

However, like many primary production industries the fishing community faces pressures. Several years ago the Co-op found itself on its knees in a state of financial disrepair, facing bankruptcy, and fighting to keep shareholders.

Droughts affect the Co-op just as badly as agricultural industries inland and on the coast. A lack of rain means a lack of nutrients entering the estuaries, in turn providing less food for the aquatic food chain and reducing fish stocks.

Commercial pressures and compliance with regulations are constantly evolving and can only be properly managed by a collective; “how do we market our 3 ‘U’s (undervalued, under fished, underused species)?”,”how do we best make people aware this is Australian fish, and not imported?” and “how do we do business with Woolworths and not get pressured?”

The most impressive lesson from today was learning not WHAT the challenges were but rather HOW and WHY the community took them head on.

Facing bankruptcy less than a decade ago the Co-op’s board of directors made the bold decision to effectively ‘freeze’ shares, meaning no member could sell their share(s) until 2019. This was a clever solution to secure what capital the co-op had at the time and create an ongoing commitment from their members (a large proportion of whom are now the non-active shareholders having since retired) that the co-op must endure and succeed for the individual shareholders to themselves survive. Beyond that the shareholders effectively bought more shares to build up the Co-ops capital and help it pay off debts. Only a tight community has the courage to band together at such times, and only an extraordinary one has the strength to survive it.

They face the distinct possibility of running out of fisherman over the next 30 years with an average active shareholder age of 54. This is further compounded by a stemming of generational fishing families; the next generation are either told not to or don’t want to become professional fishermen.

young fisher, 18 year old Jack Freeman Suzie McEnallaydeccreatives-5146

With almost no young, skilled fishermen coming through the ranks in the next decade it was vitally important for the Co-op to assist 18 year-old Jack in securing a grant from the Rural Assistance Authority to begin the process of acquiring fishing license endorsements so that they could build up and sustain their shareholder base. The process to obtain a commercial fishing license in NSW is quite a lengthy & intricate process. Even the governments’ own guide to commercial fisheries says that ‘due to the complex nature of the NSW commercial fishing arrangements it is impossible to produce a simple guide that is guaranteed to fully explain all aspects. The law and policies are also subject to change, so anyone who wishes to fully understand all elements of the current arrangements must not rely solely on this guide’.

And by working with the FRDC (Fisheries Research and Development Corporation) the Co-op can more effectively influence, through education and research, the market factors that create the “3 U’s” and can generate a better revenue stream by successfully marketing species like Luderick and Mullet that are in such strong supply in Wallis Lake.


The Wallis Lake Fishermans Co-operative is blessed with a wealth of pristine resources and hard-working, passionate individuals that form a sum greater than all the parts. Their methods and resourcefulness is the key to their success and is something to be admired and imitated by any business willing to create a more collaborative and egalitarian environment for business.


my insider’s guide to eating/drinking – aaron ward

Ever wondered where those in the biz head to for great eating and drinking? We’re often asked so we asked our #youngexcellence for the lowdown and the insider’s guide to eating/drinking….Sydney with Aaron Ward, sous chef at sixpenny, Stanmore.

Favourite places for breakfast and brunch?

Four ate Five in Surry Hills. It’s a busy little cafe on Crown Street. The salmon bagel is delicious and something I usually order. St Jude in Redfern is just around the corner from my house so it’s easy for a quick breakfast, the avocado smash with poached eggs is something light and delicious. Bourke St Bakery, Surry Hills – again just around the corner, if you miss the lines of the early morning rush it’s a great place to get a pastry or a tart.

Favourite restaurants in your home state for special occasions?

LuMi in Pyrmont. I love spending a Sunday night at LuMi, watching the sun set over the harbour is magic. The food is always delicious and the staff are amazing. Ester in Chippendale. If I ever have a Sunday day off I love going to Ester for lunch, I can sit there all afternoon with a couple of wines and graze on the food they cook. It really is delicious. LP’s Quality Meats in Chippendale. I usually go to LP’s with a few friends, this way we get to try more of the food. I have never walked out of LP’s hungry as there’s always dishes on the menu I want to eat.

Best bars to head to after work and on your days off?

Shady Pines in Darlinghurst. Walking downstairs into Shady Pines is like walking into another world. I go here for a few late night drinks, their style there is nowhere like it in Sydney. The Dolphin Hotel in Surry hills. After the new refurbish of the Dolphin I have been a few times already, it’s a good place for a beer or a wine and some delicious Italian food. Salisbury Hotel in Stanmore. This is the local pub near Sixpenny, so we will usually head down the road for a beer after work.

Where do you go for fresh, seasonal produce and market bargains?

I go to the Flemington Markets in Sydney every week for our fruit and vegetables. It is a good way to see what produce is coming in to season and what is at its peak. Also it is good way to meet the producers and the farmers that grow the fruits and vegetables and get an insider’s view on how they are produced and where they come from.

Where have you had the best interstate dining experiences?

I visited the Hunter Valley a few weeks ago and dined at Muse Restaurant, it was one of the best experiences I have had. The dining room is beautiful and the food is just as good. The staff made me feel welcome as if I was part of their family. To have a restaurant like Muse only 2 hours outside of Sydney the valley is a must visit.

See where else our #youngexcellence alumni go to in ACTNSWNTQLDSATASVICWA

designing chefs: mal meiers is pottering around..

These days it’s not enough for young chefs to just be designing delectable dishes on a daily basis they’re putting their talents into other avenues specifically the tools of their trades… We’ve seen chefs input into the designing of kitchens in new venues, choosing the crockery and tableware to the music that’s played during service. Some chefs are taking it even one step further in their quest for total creative control and making their own plates and knives. Mal Meiers is one such chef and is making his own plates for his food & wine pop-ups and charity dinners. The results are fairly spectacular… But we’ll let you be the judge!

What inspired you to start making your own plates? 

Initially I started making plates because I wanted to be able to create the plate I put a dish I created on.

How did you get involved with the pottery communities in Melbourne and Sydney?

I started by searching for wheel throwing courses in my local area, which lead me to do a six week course at Northcote pottery. I discovered the space was set up perfectly to practice after the initial course.

After relocating to Sydney I again searched and came across Claypool, an amazing group of experienced ceramicists in Botany. A handful of potters decided to create a space that would act as a community of like-minded creative people as much as a space due to the lack of one in Sydney.

A lot of chefs are turning their hands to creating & producing ‘tools of their trade’ why do you think this is? What are the benefits?

I think that as a chef because it allows you the opportunity to have multiple passions due to the multitude of artisan paths within a career. For some chefs it may be gardening, bread, making knives or making plates.

I think the benefits are you can have more creative freedom in some aspects, for me with my plates, I can create something for myself no one else will have. Or it allows me create something for a specific purpose like my Food + Wine pop-ups and Beyondblue charity dinners.


Where are you using the plates?

Towards the end of 2016 I made plates to use at Food for Thought, the two charity dinners I organised that took place in November  2016 to raise funds for beyondblue, (Mal raised over $19,000 for beyondblue in 2016). I also use the plates for my business the Food + Wine pop up which takes up 3-4 week residences in various locations.

Do you have a signature style?

Style? I would say more of a quirk. Yes I like making organic shaped plates so I shape my plates around different fruits and vegetables. You can take the chef out of the kitchen but not the kitchen out of the chef!

Any monumental disasters from when you started out?

Biggest disaster would probably be when I had a glaze that shrunk at a different rate to the clay I was using for a particular effect and I had to make about 120  avocado ramekins for my friends at Persillade in Melbourne to give them the 20 they wanted.


Living back in Sydney, you’ve been visiting Claypool to make your plates? What do they do and how did you get involved?

It’s just an amazing environment they are very helpful, supportive. As a business it’s more of a community. Everything is there and you meet a wide variety of potters all with different styles and everyone is open to sharing.

Any plans to take bespoke orders or are you more interested in producing for yourself?

To be honest I’m still figuring it out, I’ve only been doing a couple of years. It’s also a labour of love and I’m currently committing most of my time to Bennelong and Food for Thought besides I am so busy at the moment, I wouldn’t be have the time to fulfill orders anyway.

Interested in spinning the wheel? Mal recommends the following;

Claypool in Sydney

Northcote Pottery in Melbourne

Carlton Arts Centre in Melbourne

Mal says, ‘I used to more often than not bump into Dave Verheul from town mouse here while expanding my glaze selection’.

We found these;

Clayschool in Brisbane

Adelaide Potters Club in Adelaide


why apply?

Thinking about entering Electrolux Appetite for Excellence? Here are 10 ways it could boost your career.

“Appetite for Excellence ” a program meaning exactly that, is wonderful  initiative that not only gave me more confidence in what I do, but more importantly gave me the tool of ‘listening’. This program is about a collective, a bunch of people with the Appetite to learn, discover, collaborate, teach and push boundries” James Viles, Australian Young Restaurateur 2013

We are a national program that aims to find, develop and support the next generation of culinary stars. Our mission is to inspire and nurture young restaurateurs, waiters and chefs by providing once-in-a-lifetime experiences, educational opportunities and enviable prizes. The program culminates in the crowning of the Australian Young Restaurateur, Young Waiter and Young Chef, of the Year, but it also provides fantastic opportunities for everyone who enters. Still not convinced? Here are 10 reasons why you should think about entering:

  1. Define your career goals

Ok, we admit that the application form looks a little daunting. But just taking the time to fill out the application form can really help you focus on where you want to go in your career and how you’re going to get there.

  1. Increase your knowledge

Everyone who enters is invited to a one-day educational workshop in each state. Plus our national finalists go on a week-long produce tour to learn more about the science behind our produce, gain inside knowledge about food and wine production and connect with passionate winemakers, farmers, harvesters and producers.

  1. Learn new skills

You’ll learn cool stuff, we promise. We help develop your skills outside of the restaurant, such as social media etiquette, and put you in touch with key players, producers and peers so you can share ideas.

  1. Build your confidence

Appetite for Excellence is not a cutthroat competition. We want to help you shine, with mentoring, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and a supportive environment.

  1. Network with industry icons

Want to rub shoulders with the big cheeses? The program gives to chance to show some of Australia’s most talented chefs, restaurateurs and industry gurus just what you can do.

  1. Meet passionate producers and suppliers

National finalists get to take part in a hands-on food and wine tour in one of Australia’s most renowned regions and network with winemakers, farmers, growers and producers.

  1. Connect with your peers

You’ll also meet young guns like you and share experiences, ideas, advice and trends. It’s like hanging out with like-minded mates. Most of the people walk away with lifelong connections (plus, you’ll have a couch to crash on in every state!).  

  1. Explore your creativity

If you’re a young chef, you get to develop your own menu according to your food philosophy (not your head chef’s). National finalists also take part in a cook-off to produce a three-course menu for our judges.  

  1. Raise your profile

Want to be the next celebrity chef, waiter or restaurateur? That’s not what we’re about, but we’ll help kick-start your career with local and national publicity and arm you with the tools to promote yourself and expand your network of contacts.

  1. Make a splash on the world stage

Got your passport handy? The program also offers you the chance to travel the world and gain international exposure with some truly awesome prizes. So what are you waiting for? Applications close at 11:59pm on Monday 03April 2017 AEST

young chef, waiter & restaurateur 2017 applications are open. Why not apply now?