Hollywood’s loss is Brisbane’s gain.
Chef Louis Tikaram has clocked up plenty of plaudits on the Australian dining scene, cooking at Bentley, Tetsuya’s and Longrain in Sydney. But it’s his most recent work as founding chef of EP & LP in Los Angeles that has left the biggest mark on his career. Over the past five years, Tikaram’s Southeast Asian cooking has helped make the West Hollywood joint one of LA’s hottest restaurants.
Now he’s back on local shores, joining the trend of star chefs moving to Brisbane. Next month he’ll open Stanley, a 200-seat Cantonese restaurant in the old water-police headquarters at Howard Smith Wharves.
“Myself and my wife are from Mullumbimby, and we’ve always wanted to come back to this area,” Tikaram says. “I feel like Brisbane is an extended part of Byron.”
He moved back to Australia with his young family in January. Without a plan, they visited Brisbane and were immediately impressed by the extent of the city’s development.
“I was so shocked with how much Brisbane has changed … it has developed into an amazing food city and an exciting city in general,” Tikaram says. “I went out for dinner with Jonathan Barthelmess from Greca and Patrick [Friesen, executive chef of Howard Smith Wharves] and had to keep on reminding myself that I was in Brisbane. That’s when I made the decision [to stay].”
Through Friesen, Tikaram heard about the plans for Stanley. “One of my huge passions is Chinese and Cantonese food,” Tikaram says. “It’s always been one of my favourite cuisines to eat, but I’ve never had the opportunity to cook it [professionally]. It’s nice to break out of my comfort zone and cook food I’m really passionate about.”
Tikaram says he’s enjoyed working with local suppliers, particularly those from the Byron area. The menu for Stanley isn’t finalised yet, but he says you can expect dim sum, seafood dishes such as live pippies in XO on crispy egg noodles, and plenty of barbeque and roasted meats, including pork belly with English mustard and hoisin.
Earlier this year, a group of private investors took over the Stanley lease from restaurateur Andrew Baturo (Walter’s Steakhouse, The Gresham, Libertine). The name and concept has otherwise remained the same, with Howard Smith Wharves hiring French-born hospitality pro Hervé Dudognon (ex-Merivale Group) as general manager.
For Tikaram, it’s a long way from his days in Mullumbimby, where he attended school with chef Ben Devlin of Pipit (in Pottsville, NSW) and pop-star Iggy Azalea.
Stanley will open at the Howard Smith Wharves in mid-October.