It’s no exaggeration to say Stix is one of the country’s top caterers. For years it has worked with Neil Perry (Margaret, ex-Rockpool and Spice Temple) on Qantas’s first- and business-class menus. It also has a popular Marrickville cafe, and owns a regenerative farm in the Hawkesbury. Equally, the Fink Group, which owns and operates Quay, Bennelong, Firedoor and Otto, is one of the country’s leading hospitality groups. Now, these two industry leaders have established a partnership, with loads of great stuff in the works.
The syndicate will focus on evolving Stix – expect a new cafe in Hunters Hill; an events arm (want Peter Gilmore to cook at your wedding? They can make it happen); and Fix Dining, a meal-delivery service with ex-Momofuku Seiobo head chef Paul Carmichael, Analiese Gregory (ex-Quay, Hobart’s Franklin and London’s Ledbury), Gilmore and Firedoor’s Lennox Hastie. Fink Group will also use produce from the Stix farm across its venues.
Overseeing all this will be Brian Murray, the former head chef at Quay and Bennelong. Here’s what he’s got in store for his multifaceted new role.
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What’s your new job title?
Head chef of Stix. In this role, I’ll oversee the kitchen team and menu creation and execution across all arms of the Stix business, including Fix Dining (an exciting new concept in partnership with my alma mater, Fink), Stix Cafe Marrickville and the soon-to-be-opened Stix Cafe Hunters Hill, Stix Events, and Stix Farm in the Hawkesbury.
Why did you decide to move Stix?
It’s a really exciting opportunity that goes beyond the traditional role of head chef. At Stix, we’re looking at how we can make the hospitality industry, including kitchen practices and consumer behaviour, more sustainable.
Do you have any fun plans or ideas for your new role?
I have a strong passion and drive to see a necessary change come about for the sake of our climate and the longevity of our industry – we need to look at how we do things, break the model and move forward. Change isn’t always easy, and it’ll take some time, [and] long-term planning and courage to move from old habits to more sustainable new practices in and out of the kitchen. In this new role of head chef at Stix, I’m eager to help lead the charge.
Will you bring along any dishes or ideas you’re known for?
It’s been a busy few months, and it’s set to get even busier with the doors of Stix Cafe Marrickville reopening and Fix coming online. I’m looking forward to adapting my skills to the varied environments and kitchens of Stix – whether it be the Ultimate Roast Chook I’ve put together for Fix, or a potato and La Luna [cheese] pastry at Stix Cafe, I’m really enjoying getting creative, especially on the baking front.
Will we see any cool ideas or dishes that you think will particularly thrill diners?
It’s been a really fun learning process working with the additional launch chefs of Fix – Analiese Gregory, Paul Carmichael [and] Lennox Hastie – and I’ve been very lucky to have worked with Peter Gilmore for years at Quay and Bennelong. There are some great dishes on Fix that I think people will really respond to – think Peter Gilmore’s chocolate crackle delivered to your door.
Pulling from my experience of far too many cold Dublin winters, I’ve put together a pretty epic Guinness and potato dumpling stew that should help us Sydneysiders get through these cold months.