Chefs’ World

Last Updated: 17 Dec 2014
Jenny Susanto-Lee

WA’s chefs reveal the tricks to their signature dishes.



Alan Desouza, head chef, 1907
As much as possible, try to source your seafood locally. We buy our rainbow trout from Manjimup, and our squid is caught down south in Augusta. The trout and squid should only take a couple of minutes to cook – we use a flat grill. For the sides, I always like to use vegetables that are in season. We get our vegetables from The Range, our farm in Toodyay.


Troy Melia, head chef, Coco's
We buy our Muscovy duck breast from a private farm in NSW that specialises in that particular breed. We marinate it for eight to 10 hours in a fresh orange reduction oil, which goes very well with the gaminess of the duck. Wrap the duck in pancetta, and get the pan really hot to seal the duck, crisp up the pancetta and release the flavours through the meat. Always oven-roast duck breast to medium-rare, as this is the way it ought to be served. And don't forget to allow it to rest for half the cooking time, too.

Rebecca Hancock


Rebecca Hancock, head chef, The Butterworth
The beef cheeks are slowly braised in the oven at one hundred degrees overnight. We then pour a 'nap' (napoletana) sauce over the top, which we have cooked for several hours to make it nice and rich. For the gnocchi, we hand-make it with ricotta. Adding a dash of butter at the end of cooking gives it extra flavour and a nice shine as well.


Mal Chow


The Studio Bistro in Yallingup has been a hotspot for the past few years – now it's turned the heat up another notch by putting Mal Chow on as head chef. Born in KL and migrating to Melbourne when he was five, his family has always been immersed in the Malaysian cooking scene. Working under such luminaries as Shannon Bennett (Vue de Monde) and Tetsuya Wakuda (Tetsuya's), he followed his heart to WA and now calls the southwest home. "My food is inspired by Asian and French cuisine, drawing from childhood memories and from what I have learnt through my cooking experiences," says Mal. "The restaurant menu is pretty French-based, with some Asian influences thrown in, particularly Japanese. So we still have steak tartare and chicken liver parfait, but we've added dishes like miso snapper, tempura soft-shell crab and vegetables with Chinese spices. I try to keep the French and Asian dishes separate though."

Jon Hizola


Perth's favourite Malaysian restaurant, Ria, has a new head chef. Jon Hizola may originally be from the Philippines, but his heart belongs to Japanese cuisine. From cooking on Mount Nagano at Japan's Winter Olympics to cheffing at some of Australia's top Japanese restaurants (including Nobu and Sushia), the guy knows his way around a teppanyaki hot plate. So how did he wind up working at a Malaysian restaurant? "I was basically headhunted," says Jon. "Ria was looking for somebody to run a kitchen, and I'd run the kitchen at Sushia, so it wasn't new for me. The new cuisine was a big leap, but it's made me a stronger chef. I like this place. It's relaxed, it's not pretentious, and it has quality food. I'm very, very comfortable here."

Simon Lythgoe


Meanwhile, just up the road from Ria, Kitsch Bar Asia is also enjoying a change of face in the kitchen. Born and trained in Asian cuisine in the UK, Simon Lythgoe became head chef at the Leederville eatery in June, and seems to be a fast operator. "I left England because it wasn't doing much for me with the recession," he says. "I came to Perth for a working holiday, and in 17 months met a girl who's now my wife and we've got a baby. The day my son was born was the day I was offered the job at Kitsch." His additions to the Kitsch menu include miso soup, Thai curry and udon. But he won't think about touching the peanut butter parfait with salted caramel. "People come in just for that. It's never going to go off the menu," says Simon.


• The Publican Group's sweetheart, Telina Menzies, has been bumped up to national executive chef, meaning Luke Firth is WA's new executive chef for the Group.
• Alasdair Thompson is the new chef de cuisine at Crown's Modo Mio, having cut his teeth working with Alain Fabregues.
• Gasp! Cutie-pie chef Nick French, from The Butterworth, has quit the industry altogether to become a cabinet maker. Say it ain't so!
• 150 East Restaurant has a spanking new executive chef, Marty Glidden, who has worked throughout Europe and the Americas.
• Sam Okita, the new head chef at Sushia with 40 years' experience, has cooked for the likes of Bill Clinton and David Beckham.

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