Masterchef S01 ep11: Peter Doyle, Doyle Restaurant, [Sydney]

Interview with Peter Doyle

Three years into my apprenticeship thre was a revolution in cooking called Nouvelle Cuisine, Leo Scoffield started writing about Tony Bilson and I read a couple of articles and I thought I better go and try this out. So we went for dinner, I took Beverley for her birthday, in 1976 or 77, and it was just mindblowing. I just knew I had to go to France and find out for myself.


KM What is EST?

It is sort of a glamorous dinning room. It is really nice food, but it is also simple
food based on a little bit of precision technique but it is not elaborate.

My brother started cooking and then two years later he was surfing every day,
so I thought I like to surf so I'll go cooking too, because then I can work at
dinner and surf during the day.

KM This is in Sydney?

I started at Argyle Tavern, which was sort of not anything but an al a carte
restaurant, it was like a traditional Australian roast restaurant, but it was just a
great camaraderie in the kitchen and the atmosphere in the workplace, it just
fascinated me.

Three years into my apprenticeship there was a revolution in cooking called
Nouvelle Cuisine, Leo Scoffield started writing about Tammy Bilson and I read
a couple of articles and I thought I better go and try this out. So I went and he
was out at Tony's Bon Gou, which everyone knows was hardly an elaborate
restaurant, it was as basic as you can get. But we went for dinner, I took
Beverley for her birthday, in 1976 or 77, and it was just mind blowing. Every
restaurant in Sydney had the same 20 dishes on and I had been cooking
Oysters Kilpatrick, Oysters Mornay, Prawn Cocktail, all that kind of thing

As soon as I had that meal, and it wasn't just that meal, all of a sudden it was
just an exciting time in the paper, in the Weekend Australian Len Evans was
writing about this revolution. Leo Scoffield was writing about this revolution, all
of a sudden it was appearing in Vogue magazine and thing like that and this
had never happened before and so you just got swept up into it, and then I just
knew I had to go to France and find out and O.K. have a look for myself.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

We saved up and went surfing in Asia for a while and went off to France, we
bought a camper van and we drove around France for 8 months, and I worked
in a few little restaurants, Oh not little restaurants, but a couple of restaurants
for a week here and there.

KM Did you simple go there and say I just want to work in your kitchen?

No I called into Mr. Bocuse, he said No. and I called in to Roger Verge and he
said Yes, and then I called into Troigrois and he said yes,

KM What was your first reaction to some of these people?

I was using incredible produce that wasn't available in Australia at that time,
that was the first thing and then he was doing incredible things with it, that in
the combinations were....what people don't realise about Nouvelle Cuisine was
that it was all based on tradition, it wasn't like fish with strawberries, in the
translation, it was still based on classical taste combinations that worked, and
it wasn't minute portions, by the time you sat down and had a three star meal,
you couldn't move. It was still be but was much lighter than it had been, it was
just a fresher approach, and just the plating of the food was incredible. Like

KM It is the presentation

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

..everyone knows that you put sauce over the fish, but when Troisgrois put the
fish on top of the sauce well everyone does it now, but someone has to do it
first, and that was happening all over France. All of a sudden people were
thinking about things in a different way. Went to Michel Girad and it is still one
of the top three meals I have ever had,

We ate at quite a few just because it was achievable then, that is what we
went there for. We were living in a campervan and we would just go to that
area, go to the markets, do all that and then I would just call in. I couldn't
afford to eat at all the restaurants but I still liked to look at them all, so we
travelled around sort of calling in and having a look and checking out the
menu, and things like that and getting a whole feel for the thing, the feel for the

If I wanted a zucchini flower I had to....o.k. I lived at Palm Beach at the time, I
just hunted around. At the back of Mona Vale there was old market gardens,
and one guy let me go and pick them. He wouldn't let me pick the flowers with
zucchini attached, he would only let me pick the other flower on the stem, so
I'd get those. I had to go and pick them myself everyday if I wanted them, if I
wanted shallots, I'd have to call Melbourne. There was one place in Australia
that grew golden shallots, and they would put them in the post and I had to
pick them up at Darling Harbour at the old railway docks, so it was an involved
process just getting basic things.

There was a little group of people doing it and so everyone was after this
produce so we all knew each other, we were all feeding off and helping each
other. Someone would find some yabbies and then the guy would say o.k. I've
got a mate who has them as well and all of a sudden there are enough yabbies
to supply 6 restaurants instead of 1. So it was just a thing like that and
gradually more and more things became available. It is no good me going to a
grower and saying I will have a kilo of this, he is not interested, but if someone
comes along and says I will have a 100 kilos, he will grow 200 kilos.

Jewellery Theatre Elements

All the restaurants in Sydney run by us guys at that time were..... if you look
back they were really basic, but the food was good. The food distinguished
them, we didn't have wine list, we didn't HAVE decor, we didn't have probably
service of the scale of today, I mean it has come a long way.


KM Are you throwing in Asian influences?

Not so many, I mean we do have some but I think it is really important that you
follow your instincts as a cook. My instincts was, going back to the time when I
went to France first, I just felt really comfortable there and I felt comfortable
with that produce and that was the way my palate was. I love going to Chinese
restaurants, I love Indian food, I love Thai food, I love all that but when it
comes to cooking it I don't feel instinctively safe doing it. I can't

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

KM It is not your thing.

No I never quite sure whether I have got the balance right, whereas in my
food, my French influenced or European influenced food I feel very
comfortable. I think that is important and you shouldn't try and be what you are
not. You just use seasonal produce and I have got my basic taste
combinations that I think will work and you are always looking for things that
are a little bit different a little bit off beat.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE:Peter Doyle, Doyle Restaurant, [Sydney]