Cott & Co
After travelling the country and the world for much of the year, high-profile chef Michelle Forbes has finally settled down back in Perth.
The former Trustee chef, who recently returned from a trip to Spain’s San Sebastian, has been appointed head chef of the Cott & Co Fish Bar, part of the redeveloped Cottesloe Beach Hotel owned by the Prendiville group.
“It’s got the most fantastic views,” says Michelle. “The kitchen is in the restaurant so you just get to look at the beach all day long. You can’t really complain about that. There hasn’t been too much consistency here in the past, so I’ve got my work cut out for me, and am currently getting the menus all in order.”
Michelle is also stoked to be working alongside good buddy Russell Blaikie. “As well as still working at Must in Highgate and Must in Margaret River, Russell has been consulting for the Cottesloe Beach Hotel for a couple of years now, and has lots of ideas for food and big events – we’ve just recently completed one in Broome, at The Mangrove Hotel. So I help out with those kinds of projects… overseeing it for Russell before he arrives.”
Four Points by Sheraton Perth
A new head chef has joined the ranks at Four Points by Sheraton Perth. Californian-born John Bautista has reams of experience under his knife belt, including running his own restaurants in Tasmania and Canberra; manning choice eateries around the Thredbo (NSW), Scamander (Tassie) and Whistler (Canada) ski resorts; and preparing more than a thousand meals a day for FIFO workers up at Tom Price.
So what prompted him to up stakes and move to Perth?
“My wife and I moved here last July, and it’s gorgeous,” he says. “I came here to mine, as I’m a heavy equipment operator by trade as well, and I worked on a couple of mines in Kalgoorlie, but coming to Perth was my ultimate goal. I got back into cheffing, which I know and love.
“In America, I started my career working at the Kapalua Bay hotel in Hawaii, as well as the Hilton and the Sheraton. Four Points is a boutique hotel, and it’s a great place with a great team. It’s been really pleasant, and easy to do great things there. My background is classical French and Italian, and, of course, American, so we’ve changed the menu a bit, which was Asian and Korean food.
“I absolutely miss being a ski rat though, so may have to plan a snow trip to Japan or Switzerland to tide me over.”
What goes around comes around, as they say. New head chef Rhys Jones is no stranger to the team at Fraser’s – in fact, he finished his apprenticeship there 10 years ago.
He has since worked in Edinburgh, Vancouver and London, before finding his way back home.
“It was a challenge, returning to Perth,” he says. “After working in London, coming back to such an isolated city was quite difficult for me in the beginning. But then I got more in touch with West Australian produce, and started working with the seasons and availability.”
So after all that gallivanting around, how does Perth compare on the global dining scene? “When it comes to food trends, I think there’s only a slight delay between what’s happening in London and Australia. The biggest thing is more casual dining. All the big chefs in London aren’t pushing to open Michelin-starred restaurants anymore. They’re all looking towards casual options. Cafes are huge at the moment, too. Fraser’s is always adapting to the market, so we’ll be broadening our spectrum to cater to that.”
Popular Italian eatery Orecchiette has taken out the gong as this year’s Best Italian Restaurant in WA, as part of the Restaurant and Catering’s Awards for Excellence. The Bunbury restaurant, owned by Jennie and Danny Drummond, was pipped at the post in the nationals by South Australian restaurant, Chianti. The couple also run Wild Bull Brewery in Dardanup.
Head chef Diego Cossio has left Must Winebar for the warmer climes of Singapore. Meanwhile chef-owner Russell Blaikie is back on the pots and pans. Expect to see some flash new menu items, such as 14-hour cooked Harvey beef rib with a whisky jus. Drool.
Michael Higgs is the new boy on the block at BWG Steakhouse (formerly Bluewater Grill) in Applecross, replacing Brad Leahy as head chef. Michael cites cranking up the flames and cooking food over a woodfire grill and rotisserie as one of his favourite things to do.
David Whitting is the brand spanking new executive chef at the Subiaco Hotel. He’s the former chef de cuisine at Crown Perth’s Bistro Guillaume and, prior to that, worked at three-hat restaurant Guillaume at Bennelong in Sydney. With French cooking techniques running through his veins, he’s looking forward to putting his mark on the iconic hotel.
Balthazar has a new head chef in the form of Peter Hajdu. Formerly the restaurant’s sous chef, Peter hails from fellow stablemate and smash-hit eatery Bread in Common in Fremantle.
Neal Jackson has been lured out of retirement to head The Old Laundry in North Perth. The executive chef brings with him a newly designed menu, which features a range of modern cuisine with an international twist.
ChefHire Atelier is the newest venue to open in East Perth. It’s a cooking school, cafe and restaurant headed by Bradley Backhouse, who wishes to showcase the skills and talents of his growing team of chefs.