Born and bred in Sydney in 1968, Peter Gilmore, now known as “King of Vegetables” always wanted to cook. He started his apprenticeship at 16, then spent his twenties working at international restaurants and in New South Wales, where he developed his own distinctive back-to-nature culinary style, considered radical at the time.
In 2001, Peter took the helm of Sydney’s Quay Restaurant. It has been in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants since 2009. A month after unveiling its $4 million refurbishment and complete menu overhaul last year, it was named Australia’s best restaurant at Gourmet Traveller. It is the fourth time the top prize has gone to the spectacularly located harbour restaurant which also had the publication’s top rating - three stars - for an unprecedented 14 years in a row.
Gilmore now offers two tasting menus. The new menu, which involves a unique ceramic dish designed specially for each course, gives Gilmore the opportunity to focus more on the sensuality of the culinary experience, with the restaurant shrinking from around 110 diners per night to around 75.
One of Gilmore’s favourite new dishes is the raw seafood. It’s very simple: hand-harvested seafood from the most pristine areas of Australia. The choice of fish changes as the seasons change, just served simply with a seaweed and aged vinegar dressing. Says Gilmore: “I think there’s something very primal about hand-harvested seafood, like scallops and young octopus and clams: I believe in just treating it very simply and respect the ingredients.”
Peter describes his cuisine as food inspired by nature and is a passionate gardener himself. His quest for unusual and heirloom vegetables to plant in his own personal home plot, inspired him to find like-minded, small-scale growers who were willing to work with him and grow more unusual vegetable and fruit varieties specially for the restaurant. This was pivotal in marking the beginning of a new green revolution in Australia, a direct relationship between farmer and restaurant with no middleman.
Peter has released three cookbooks, “Quay: Food Inspired by Nature” published in 2010, “Organum: nature, texture, intensity, purity” in 2014, and most recently, “From the Earth: the World’s Great, Rare and Almost Forgotten Vegetables” in 2018.
In tandem with the books, Chef Gilmore also launched The Peter Gilmore App in 2014 . This world-first digital food experience for iPad allows users follow in his footsteps and explore the stories behind eight handpicked dishes, from concept to producer to finished plate.
Since July 2015, Gilmore’s The Fink Group have taken on a 10-year tender of the iconic Bennelong Restaurant at the Sydney Opera House showcasing the flavour, diversity and sheer quality of Australian produce in a simpler, produce-driven relaxed dining environment. It has also given the much-awarded chef an exciting platform to develop a new creative expression of his signature style, one that is simpler, produce–-driven and in sync with the relaxed dining environment.
Peter is proud to be an ambassador for Tourism Australia and works in pivotal roles for the Restaurant Australia campaign. He has been a regular guest chef and judge on Australian MasterChef most famously creating the Snow Egg which set the final challenge in the second season. He is a regular guest on Australian cooking shows including The Restaurant Australia documentary currently showing on Netflix.