Hadleigh Troy [chef and co-owner of Restaurant Amuse with wife Carolynne] was the first chef that really taught me how to cook.
He told everyone in his kitchen, “You’re cooking everything. You’re on a proper pan section where you have to know how to cook a bit of fish, you have to know how to cook a bit of beef, you have to cook lamb. You’re going to be cooking things from scratch through service.” There aren’t actually that many kitchens that do that. A lot of it is pre-cooked and you’re warming things up, finishing something or the sauce has already been made and you’re putting it in a pan.
At Tetsuya’s [Pynt cooked at the Sydney restaurant from 2005 to 2007], we were doing some cooking to order, but because you’re doing 150 people a day, it was very methodical and your range was quite short. When I started at Restaurant Amuse, we were doing around 40 to 45 covers a night but all the cooking was a la minute (cooked to order and not prepared in advance). The menus were quite extensive and it was a small brigade with six chefs in total. Your range had to be quite big for what you’re trying to achieve.
You’d prepare, but the rush would come during service. That’s when the work begins. You’ve got to be ready for when it kicks off. It’s more of a game-time kind of feeling. Training – which is your prep time – is great, but when it’s game time, you’ve got people running at you and things coming in from left and right. You’ve got things to watch out for. You’ve got to work in a different way.
Cooking to order is challenging but it’s something you want to do and when you’re doing it, it makes a lot of sense. The skill and enjoyment of cooking is actually cooking. It’s not organising or preparing.
As a chef, Hadleigh was fucking amazing. His work ethic and creativity were incredible. His temper was pretty mild. Very rarely did he lose it. He probably went off at me a few times, but I probably deserved it, too.
He was also a chef that just gets on with it. He’s not a “oh, look what I’m doing” sort of guy, just practical. He didn’t make a big song and dance about the ingredients he was getting. Trying to get the best ingredients you can, look after them and utilise them is what everyone should be doing anyway; he didn’t feel the need to spruik and talk and glorify that. He’s modest, maybe too modest. He probably did himself a disservice. He could have probably gotten a lot more out of it if he wanted to schmooze people more.
I remember how hard they worked. It’s still inspiring today. They poured everything they had into that restaurant, not just financially, but their blood, sweat and tears. On holidays, Hadleigh would be building shit in the restaurant rather than going away. Every night he’d be scrubbing down with everyone. I was talking to him on Saturday night and even 10 years down the track, he’s still cleaning the toilets.
Amuse will be remembered as one of the most prominent figures in Perth dining. I think you’ll see a lot of the guys who’ve spent a lot of time there do good things if they’re staying in the area. Just seeing the level Hadleigh and Carolynne worked and trying to keep up is either going to make you or break you. You’re either going to be able to carry that on or you’re going to finish up.
Perth-born chef David Pynt was sous chef at Restaurant Amuse between 2008 and 2010. He is currently chef-patron of Burnt Ends in Singapore. The restaurant is ranked number 53 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and number 10 on the Asia’s Best Restaurants List. Pynt also won the peer-voted chef’s award at the Asia’s Best Restaurants award.