Admired for his inventive and innovative cooking, Australian chef Peter Gilmore understands perfectly the relationship between food and its environment. At Bennelong at Sydney Opera House, and across the harbour at Quay Restaurant, he delivers first–class cuisine that befits its glamorous setting.
But it’s Gilmore’s connection with top quality produce that defines his career. Taking inspiration from nature, Gilmore’s cuisine is all about the provenance of ingredients, with particular emphasis on balancing natural textures and flavours. Close working relationships with producers have been key to his success, and his goal is to inspire others to follow his example.
Ahead of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016, where he will mentor young chef Leslie Hottaux, finalist from the Pacific region, he spoke to Fine Dining Lovers about creativity, the environment and respecting nature.
How much of a role does the natural environment play in your approach to food?
The natural environment is particularly inspiring to my food. I think it’s important to reflect the surroundings that you are cooking in.
How important is the provenance of food in increasing awareness of the value of what we eat?
It can’t be overstated how important that is. The dining public’s interest in provenance is growing stronger every day.
Why should young chefs look to build close relationships with farmers, fishermen and producers?
Being in touch with where your ingredients come from is crucial in understanding and respecting them.
Would you recommend gardening as a hobby for young chefs?
Yes, for me personally, gardening really taught me a lot about seasons and about the sheer wonder that is nature.
Is creativity something that can be taught to a chef?
Up to a certain point yes, but there is a point where you have to look inside the individual to be creative and not everyone can necessarily do that.
How do you keep your ideas fresh – is it inspiration or perspiration?
Inspiration – you need to work through that inspiration to make it a reality.
What’s new for you and your restaurants in 2016?
It’s very important to continue to evolve and discover new techniques and ingredients. I am working closely with ceramic artists on creating plates and bowls for specific dishes.