Most Excellent Appetites
Earlier this year, our chef Adam Sayles and chef owner Scott O’Sullivan were named national finalists in the 2011 Appetite for Excellence awards program. For both Adam (Young Chef finalist) and Scott (Young Restaurateur finalist) the experience was not only an honour, but also the culmination of years of dedication (and fun!) in the kitchen at Red Cabbage.
The prestigious Appetite for Excellence program was established in 2005 by renowned chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan and his business partner Lucy Allon, as a way of supporting emerging talents in the hospitality industry, and it quickly become known as one of Australia’s most prestigious and respected restaurant awards programs. We were so thrilled when we heard that both Adam and Scott and been selected as national finalists, and were with them in spirit back in June when they headed over to Sydney to take part in the judging.
Competing for the title of Young Chef, Adam was put through his paces in the kitchen. He made it through the first round and down to the final eight after competing in a cook-off with 16 other young chefs. One challenge was to compete in a “black box” cook-off, where the finalists had to create a dish from a mystery box of ingredients. For Adam, it was a great opportunity to flex his culinary muscle and show his ingenuity as a young chef. “I love to use second cuts of meat and unusual ingredients in dishes in order to showcase how a good chef can use creativity to make an incredible meal out of almost anything that’s handed to them,” he says. Adam also enjoyed meeting and working alongside the other Young Chef candidates, which allowed him to learn new things and swap stories with some of the most talented people on the emerging scene. “The food industry is forever evolving and that’s what is exciting about being in it.”
Our chef owner Scott O’Sullivan is also passionate about evolution and education in this ever-changing industry. “As a restaurateur I never want to stop evolving, I want to keep learning,” says Scott. For his part of the competition, Scott had to write essays discussing his restaurant philosophy, and was interviewed by a panel of industry leaders, including highly regarded Australian chef and cookbook author Christine Mansfield, award-winning chef Peter Gilmore of Sydney’s Quay fame, and the program’s founders Luke Mangan and Lucy Allon. The restaurant philosophy Scott shared with the judges is one than embraces quality, simplicity and ingenuity. “I believe not only in bringing innovation to food, but offering genuine variety while maintaining impeccable levels of quality, service and attention to detail in every aspect of the dining experience,” he explains. “At Red Cabbage we pride ourselves on a menu that is seasonal and uncomplicated while still being sophisticated. We like to experiment with new things and keep up with industry trends without being a slave to them.”
Another wonderful part of the experience was that as finalists, Scott and Adam also had the pleasure of participating in an all expenses paid five-day produce tour in Queensland. They both believe passionately in using the freshest local ingredients available when developing their menus, so this trip was truly an inspiration. From carrot farms and strawberry fields to Wagyu beef and dairy producers, it was an amazing opportunity to go back to the source, see where ingredients come from, and meet and learn from the passionate growers, farmers and producers who put their heart and soul into producing the meat, seafood, cheese, fresh herbs, vegetables and other ingredients that are the building blocks for any chef’s greatness.
We would be remiss not to congratulate Richard Ousby of Sydney’s Quay restaurant and Clint Hillery of Time to Vino in Sydney’s Pott’s Point, who picked up the winning honours in the Young Chef and Young Restaurateur categories. But we couldn’t be more proud of Adam and Scott. Achieving finalist status was an impressive achievement, one that recognises their talents, and demonstrates that some of the best in the business consider our South Perth restaurant to be at the forefront of the industry.