Masterchef S02 ep9 : Peter Doyle, Pier Restaurant, [Sydney]

Interview with Peter Doyle

The King of all things Fish in Australia.


Doyle: The restaurant originally started out as an old tea house in the 50’s and then was developed
into a marina and the Doyle family took it over I think in the early 60’s, it became Dory’s in the
late 70’s and then we took it over in 1991.

Doyle: It had always been a seafood restaurant so I sort of, when we first took it over, I thought
we’d continue that theme, we’ve sort of developed a whole different new approach where we
undercook the seafood a lot more than most people do, cooking it like a rare steak.

Doyle: We were raised on a farm so dad would go and get marron out of the river and he’d kill a
chook or string up a lamb and de-bone it himself so you sort of, there was a bit more of a food
philosophy within our family living off the land so to speak so mum used to always use fresh
vegetables and a lot of families in those days, it came out of a tin or out of the freezer.

Doyle: Just prior to leaving school all of a sudden I had a desire I wanted to become a chef and I
don’t know really why, there’s no family history and then I went and had a vocational guidance
test you know you had to mark down what three career paths you’d like to take and I put a chef and
then I think carpentry and plumbing or something and I was told by the vocational guidance
teacher that I’d never become a chef so that probably made me more obstinate to actually become

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Doyle: A course came up where you could do a 12 week block TAFE course which completed
your first year of your apprenticeship so I did that and I sort of worked and casually cooking and
put myself through that course and then started an apprenticeship there after.

Doyle: I was hooked when I was working as a youngster in the RSL Club, I just loved the vibe and
the energy of the whole kitchen. I found it sort of came to me very easily.

Doyle: I started at a place called The Balmain Bakery and it was pretty much my first chef’s
position. I was sort of cooking what I thought was quite good cuisine and then I went and saw
Tony, he advised me to go overseas and that I should go to France and experience some of the
restaurants so my wife and I set off over there and we, so that sort of changed my whole outlook, I
came back and at that stage Tony had just opened Tony’s Bongoo in Elizabeth Street and I’m a
true believer that he changed the whole face of cuisine in Australia.

Doyle: I came back from overseas and I started at basically a nightclub that had a very small
dining room of about 40 seats and I, in a place called Rogues and I was therefore for four years and
after two years I became a partner in the premises and I sort of developed a lot of my ideas and
thought process with the cuisine there and then in 1983 I opened up a small restaurant in Neutral
Bay called Pelinis and once again it seated about 40 people, we just used to open five nights and
do a Friday lunch and just sort of what was considered then even though it was in a little shop
frontage it was sort of considered fine dining and just tried to develop and evolve from that and
then in the late 80’s I opened a place called East Side Bar & Grill because I could see the whole
food scene changing. I was approached to actually come down here and consult on setting Pier up
and eventually ended up taking it over.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Doyle: Over the years we developed contacts and we fly a lot of produce in directly from Western
Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, Northern Territory that sort of thing, we buy all
line caught, … spike fish and it’s just that attention to detail, the handling, the quality, the way the
processing, all our fish we buy whole, scaled on and no water touches our fish, we gut it all
ourselves and it’s all wiped out rather than, we don’t hose it out or spray rinse it out at all.

Doyle: Say you go down to the fish markets, a lot of the fish down there is net caught which puts a
lot more stress so the fish is dragged along jumbled around, so it drowns before it’s even come up
on to the deck of the boat and it’s been mixed in with shellfish and crabs etc. The fish doesn’t have
a true state of rigor mortis because it’s died under stress, it’s drowned itself. Whereas we buy line
caught fish which is still alive when it’s brought up on deck, it’s spiked through the head, through
the brain, so it dies instantly so there’s a much better state of rigor mortis.

Doyle: We get fish in whole and then it’s gutted and it’s wiped out and then we wrap it in a wax
paper and date it until we break it down and we’ve discovered over the years that once you fillet
snapper, you can’t actually serve it until the next day, 24 hours later, because it’ll curl in the pan,
it’s a far better product if it’s taken off the bone and used a day later.

Doyle: All our fish is portioned and laid on stainless steel, perforated inlay trays the covered in
wax paper so it still can get a little bit of air to it, any residue juices are dropping away, the trays
are changed after each service so it’s just a process of thoroughness really. In treating product with
respect and care. You see a lot of people go to all this trouble of sourcing the very best product
that’s available on the marketplace and then they don’t actually care for it once they’ve got a hold
of it.

Jewellery Theatre Elements

Doyle: We do a lot of raw fish here, we do raw dishes like a capuche with snapper or John Dory,
we also do a lot of sashimi.

Doyle: Fran Adria from El Bully developed these different textures which are products that you
can actually make to create these different liquid bubbles, so we’ve sort of got a dish on at the
moment where we’re doing the liquid butternut pumpkin, gnocchi with a mushroom consommé
and a liquid bubble and it bursts open with basically pure butternut pumpkin puree and people are
quite fascinated with how you go about actually creating it and it’s a lovely looking dish because it
comes out in a small clear vase with just the pumpkin gnocchi which are like little bubbles and
then you pour the consommé at the table.

Doyle: Australia I think in particular from the late 80’s onwards started to develop its own cuisine.
We’re such a cosmopolitan country and there’s so many influences, Turkish, Greek, Italian,
Spanish, Asian, so they’ve sort of dragged lots of different components from all those cuisines
because it was so natural to us to go and eat Thai one night, Greek the next night whatever, and
whereas Europe is more centralised, they’re sort of more focussed on their own cuisine. A lot of
them don’t really want to change their ways, whereas I think fortunately in Australia we’re just,
we’re sponges for information, we just, we can’t get enough. We have more magazines, food
magazines and wine magazines per capital in the world in our country than in you know, it’s just,
it’s quite amazing

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

Doyle: Princess Mary happened to dine here and the paparazzi were just harassing her it was just
before she was getting married we sort of had to sneak her out the back door on to a little dinghy
and get her out of here over to

It’s probably not a bad place for that.

Doyle: No, no it was good, over to the Point Piper Marina and she could get a car to pick them up
over there away because there must have been 150 photographers out the front all hounding us at
the doorway, trying to get in to get a shot of her you know it was quite amazing and Nicole
Kidman comes here quite a bit and that sort of thing and you know you, with any clientele like
that, we never advise the press because, and that’s why they keep coming back. Luckily we’ve got
a few side and back entrances that they can escape from unnoticed.

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