Tell us about yourself. When did you first know that you wanted to become a chef?
I’m 49 now. I started cooking when I was 18 in a very traditional brigade in Hobart, of all places (long story). I had always cooked with my mum. I had never considered it as a career, but didn’t realise how much I learned from her.

Then fortuitously I moved to Melbourne, and I finished my apprenticeship at The Lake House in Daylesford which was awesome training. And then from there went travelling, then ended up working for quite a long stint with Karen Martini at both The Wine Room and Icebergs. And then also worked with Greg Malouf, then went and worked with Kylie Kwong. So that’s the short version.

Then I had three children – so my career stopped. I moved back to Adelaide, and then it came up that The Salopian [Inn] was available, and when my youngest was two and a half I started a restaurant (which I would never give as good advice for anyone to do). We’ve been here for 10 years now.

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You’ve worked with all these amazing chefs. Who do you think you emulate the most?
Alla [Wolf-Tasker] is uncompromising and I really learned that from her. [I learnt a lot from] all three of them – Karen, Kylie and Alla. I still sometimes very much have real self-doubt that whatever I’m doing is not good enough, but they seemed to handle it and just get on with it.

The other thing I’ve really learned from all three of them is to listen to your intuition. So much cooking now has become about probing meat or doing things to time and temperature, and very exact. But they taught me about actually listening to the inner voice that goes, “It might read 68 degrees but it might actually need another four minutes because it just doesn’t look right”.

If you had to nominate one dish from The Salopian Inn as representative of your cooking style, what would it be?
It’s such a simple dish but we’ve had an ice-cream sandwich on [the menu] since the day we opened. We have any entire folder of all the flavours, but it always goes back to the beautiful local cream and local seasonal fruit. My food is really simple – it’s not fancy but it’s just full of flavour and it’s got a story. So that ice-cream sandwich has just evolved over the years and now it’s got like six different garnishes and three different biscuits. It’s a lot of fun.

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s Tasting Australia program?
I’m really looking forward to seeing the art overlay and how that interacts with the food at the Dining Galleries. Claudette [Zepeda]and James [Henry] are coming from overseas. They’re both really different representations of food excellence. I like the broadness in this program.

What about any events that you’re personally hosting?
I’m also cooking with Emma McCaskill and Adam D’Sylva in the Dining Galleries, where it’s all about looking at Indian food and culture though Australian ingredients. I’ve spent a bit of time in India and just love it. I love the food, spices and chaos. Adam D’Sylva and I went to trade school together so we’re super excited to cook together again.

If someone was only going to one Tasting Australia event, which would you recommend?
It’s like choosing one of my children. I’m all about accessibility. I think good food doesn’t have to be expensive so [I’d pick] the Canteen Series. It’s the regional restaurants coming in, bringing their staff and telling their story. For $49 with a glass of wine, it’s crazy good value.