Scotty! Welcome to the Flave Hub. Let’s start by telling the peeps what your deal is. How did you make cookin’ in the kitchen a career?
It’s been quite the ride so far for me as a chef. I started my training in Napier in New Zealand back in 2000 before I moved to the Gold Coast to work for a year. Then I tripped over to London to work for Gordan Ramsay - as you can imagine, a super-tough environment but I learnt a heap!
From there I worked in Edinburgh at the MTV Music Awards before I landed a job with
Beyoncé. Yep, Beyoncé. And from there it opened up a career of travelling around with musicians as their on-tour chef for 10 years. I based myself in London for the first seven years, then Los Angeles for the last three, and would head off on tour with the musicians for three to four months. Then I’d surf for a few months somewhere tropical around the world and then back to work again.
Nine years ago I moved back Down Under to Sydney and a friend and I ran the Panama House kitchen for a few years before we opened up a restaurant called Two and Twelve in Bondi.
And then from there, myself and three good friends started a franchise called Milky Lane which has grown to 10 restaurants across Australia and now - hope you’ve kept up - here I am with Flave!
Wow, ok, well you’ve just put our careers to shame. Working with so many celebs (could we even say...divas?), surely you’ve had a few odd meal requests? Dish up the dirt, Scotty.
There’s definitely been a few! When working for Elton John I had to perfectly poach the chicken he fed his dog meanwhile, blackening Elton’s lamb chops. As in, to the point of charcoal or he would send them back.
Pink was the same with her salmon each night, it had to be super crispy and cooked to the limit.
Also, Stevie Nicks would request two roast chickens and four large zucchinis each day; one roast for Stevie and one for her dog.
Well, that makes our ‘half-strength long black with a dash of froth-only, 90-degree almond milk’ order seem basic. Now you’re obviously skilled at creating epic-tasting plant-based food - where did you learn such skills?
So when I was working on tour for Paul McCartney for seven years he ate a completely plant-based diet. Paul still liked the flavours and taste of meat but wanted to go vegan for environmental reasons.
I was cooking for 300 roadies at the time and they were expected to eat plant-based too, so I had the task of recreating the flavours and textures of meat but obviously needed to make everything really tasty, too.
I learnt to adapt recipes and started using ‘hearty’ vegetables like mushrooms, and nuts and lentils to replicate the taste and texture of animal products.
It was hard in countries like Russian where they didn’t have too many ingredients that replicated the ‘meaty’ texture.
Damn it, Russia - way to make it a challenge! What have been some of the fun meat replicas and even the challenges you’ve found in creating plant-based dishes?
Creating that meat flavour has been a tough one, along with getting the texture right.
I learnt to replicate raw tuna using tomatoes marinated in soy, nori, paprika and beetroot powder, and I’ve created a cod-style texture using celeriac, eggplant and a bit of seaweed to give the right flavour.
I created a ‘meatball’ recipe when I was working for Paul but I’ve perfected it over time. We’ve called it The Italian Job at Flave and I’ve used a mix of seeds, tempeh, spices, molasses and hemp seeds for protein to get the rich texture and taste. I’m pretty proud of that one.
Mates who have tried Flave honestly don’t believe our meals are totally plant-based, they’re that spot-on with taste and texture.
As with anything, though, it’s a lot of trial, error and tasting everything to perfect it before it’s launch.
Well, if you ever need taste testers, we happen to know some people *maintains eye contact for far too long*.
Now Flave, how’d you get the gig as head chef?
So I met Stuart in July 2019 and that’s when he first mentioned his idea to start Flave with his wife, Sam. The more he spoke about the business idea the more I liked the sound of it.
I worked with the two of them to develop the menu last year. I used the recipes I’d created from my time travelling and learning the local cuisine to come up with most of the dishes on the Flave menu - hence why we say the menu includes ‘Flavours of the world’.
When I was travelling I would do a bit of research on the dish and then find some locals to learn how to make it authentically.
They say you can’t have a favourite child, but surely you have a favourite dish from the Flave menu?!
Ooo, there's so many and I like them for different reasons.
The past few weeks I've been eating the Greek and the Mexican tofu scramble. Or, if I need an energy kick and that extra bit of protein after training I’ve been knocking back the Pud - the chocolate protein and chia pudding. So good.
I’m also loving the Spicy Indo, soo much flavour. It takes a few days to marinate and slow cook this dish and I learnt to make it from the local chefs in the Indonesian Mentawai Islands so the flavours are pretty spot on.
Back in 2007, I worked in Indonesia on a private surf island resort called WavePark. Every time I eat that dish it reminds me of my time out there and the perfect waves.
Ok Scotty, lastly, because we’re all stickybeaks these days, give us an insight into your life. What’s a day in the life of Flaves head chef look like?
The alarm goes off around 5am-ish, I reach over to my thermos full of my epic ginger tea, pour a cup of hot tea and start the process of waking up. The tea is amazing! I’ve been drinking it for a few years now. It’s my good friend and fellow Flave chef, Dan Brown’s recipe - full of ginger, turmeric, lemon grass, oregano, cayenne pepper, liquorice root and apple cider vinegar.
Then I have my mushroom green drink! Passion Project do a great powder, a base of raw organic freeze-dried vegetables and fruits. I mix this with my life cycle mushroom extracts, cordyceps, lions mane, turkey tail and shitaki mixed together with some coconut water. I slam that down, make myself an oat late then I head out for a surf, a run or a weights session at Icebergs Gym.
Then I’m at the Flave factory by 7am to get organised and I’ll spend some time writing out new recipes.
Then from about 10am I’ll head into the kitchen to start prepping dishes and testing out a few things.
After I’ve left the office/factory I might head out for another surf or a training session if I didn’t get it in the morning and then it’s home for a cooked meal before doing it all again the next day!