Chef Ross Lusted was recently named Citi Chef of the Year for 2013. Ross has had a pretty extensive career, having lived and worked as a chef all around the world. We recently had the chance to catch up with him to ask about the moment he knew he wanted to be a chef, his best foodie memories, his career highlights so far
1. When did you first know you wanted to become a chef?
I worked in a restaurant as a teenager during my school holidays and it was an environment I just loved, nothing waits for Monday. I always love the immediacy and the creative outlet.
2. What’s your best childhood foodie memory?
Growing up in South Africa and the heavy use of spices in the Cape Malay food, chewing sugarcane on the way to school, my dad’s biltong and big family charcoal “Braai.”
3. You’ve had a pretty extensive career – what’s been the highlight so far?
I have been so lucky to have been able to live in so many countries and travel to cities known for their food and this has really helped me form my cooking style. Spending time in Spain and India with the late Santi Santamaria was an incredible time for me.
4. You’ve just been named Citi Chef of the Year – how does that feel?
Winning the Citi Chef of the Year, especially in a city like Sydney which is filled with so much talent and creativity, is an honour and highlight in any chef’s career.
5. The Bridge Room is your first restaurant and you played a big part in its entire conception – what makes it a unique dining experience?
We wanted to create a residential dining experience and this restaurant has been in my head for a long time. I always wanted a restaurant at this site for more than a decade. I am a very visual person so I could always see it completed in my mind. I designed all the ceramics and felt for the restaurant and was lucky enough to be able to work closely with Nick Tobias who really got our vision.
Juilio Sambonet custom made the cutlery for us and a wonderful small company De La Espada for designers Autoban did the chairs, so it is a really collaboration of likeminded people who connected with our vision and they all continue to work with us as the restaurant evolves.
6. Top ingredient you can’t live without?
I am very interested in salt, I use different salts from all over the world, organic Korean, Celtic sea salt, deep sea Japanese, Murray river salt. I don’t use it often at the restaurant but I eat a lot of Japanese rice at home with ocean trout folded through it when still warm and grilled rock kelp.
7. Do you have a food philosophy?
Source the best ingredients and cook them well, respecting every step in the preparation.
8. Best place to EAT in Sydney?
I mostly eat out on Sunday night or very late so it narrows it down. Last weekend we had a fantastic dinner at The Apollo with old friends.
9. Where do you like to DRINK in Sydney?
121 BC !
10. On your time off, where do you PLAY in Sydney?
Bronte. The thing I missed the most when I lived overseas are the Sydney beaches, they are the best in the world.