30 Jan Meet Your Executive Chef – Scott Drinkwater
As Executive Chef, Scott Drinkwater, celebrates five years of tantalising our tastebuds, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to sit down and get to know the man behind the meals.
Tell us about your journey to date in the food world.
I started working part time in the only licenced restaurant in Tasmania at age 13. At 14 I left school and started my apprenticeship, left home at 15 to attend catering college, then at 19 departed Australia for London.
I spent many years overseas working in London at the Gloucester, Dorchester and Royal Garden Hotels. I then worked in Switzerland for Penta Hotels, Los Angeles for Wolf Gang Puck at Spargo’s, returning to Australia to become the youngest Executive Chef of a 5 star hotel at Hyatt Kingsgate Hotel in Australia, (the hotel behind the large Coke sign). I have worked for Hyatt, Sheraton, Rydges and Accor hotels in Australia and opened my own restaurant in Cairns. I started my own Consulting Business for nine years consulting to around 50 Clubs nationally and have been a National Judge for Chef of the Year Competitions.
Who has been the greatest inspiration in your cooking?
Firstly, my Mother as she was a great cook. I look back with admiration for my mother. She was a stay at home mum with three children under five and provided us with different breakfasts, lunches and dinners seven days a week on a small budget!
My main influences in food would be Marco Pierre White. He is the chef that modernised cookery and challenged chefs to looked outside the box. Wolf Gang Puck was inspirational because he changed the way chefs worded menus. In came words such as “de constructed, smashed, hint, mist” and he made the humble pizza a WOW dish by using different toppings with items we now take for granted like duck, pulled pork etc.
What is your favourite dish/cuisine to cook?
I really don’t have a favourite dish. I do however like Lebanese and Spanish food.
In my career I have been lucky enough to work with chefs from many nationalities, I have learnt so much from these chefs and have been able to use that
knowledge in my career as an Executive Chef.
How would you describe the menu selections at Dee Why RSL?
The menu selections at Dee Why RSL are designed to offer dishes to all different personal tastes and price lines. We offer incredible specials and different types of cuisine. I use a lot of nostalgic dishes on menus such as Steak Dianne, Chicken Kiev (dishes from the 70’s).
Our roasts are so popular because of the choice of roasts available, the tenderness, flavour, price and the fact that as a customer, you don’t have to cook the roast at home yourself.
Over the last five years, the menu options have seen many delicious changes.
What are the top three dishes you have created and in what outlet are they served in?
“The art of Parmology” was introduced five years ago in Aqua Bar and Dining. Everyone thought this would be good for six months and here we are five years on and it’s more popular than ever.
“For the Love of Lobsters” in The Bistro, was a promotion that worked well as we sold 6,000 ½ lobsters in four weeks.
Take three very Australian ingredients Barramundi, King Prawns, Avocado and you have created Flames all-time best selling dish!!
How important is the visual aspect of dining in your opinion?
People eat with their eyes first, smell second, taste third. So the visual appearance of a dish is critical, especially today. Before most people even taste the meal it has been photographed and sent out to the world via social media. If it looks good it must taste good.
What are your favourite local ingredients to work with?
Seafood. We are so lucky in this country to have some of the best seafood in the world. Try some of our fish specials in Flame or Aqua and don’t forget our oysters!
Also our beef is some of the best in the world, I’m sure all those that tried the eye fillet special we ran in November 2018 would have to agree!
If you were to host a dinner party for six close friends or family, what would you serve?
For me it’s about conversation and sharing food at the same time so I put everything in the middle of the table, I like to start with fresh seafood, oyster, prawns, salmon etc, then 12 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder, tabouleh, labna, Lebanese breads and finish with fresh fruits and berries and lots of wine!
Tell us about one life-changing meal.
I was lucky enough to be flown to Switzerland by Caviar House to do a full days Caviar and Vodka Tasting in Genève followed by an eight course degustation dinner in a three star Michelin restaurant. I thought I had died and gone to
heaven. It was the most amazing food.
What is something in your fridge/freezer that might surprise some people?
There is always Butterscotch Schnapps in my freezer, and always French Butter and Kombucha.
What is something we don’t know about you?
I like to swim in the ocean and body surf, however these days the belly seems to rub on the sandy bottom more and more.
Congratulations on five years Scott!