When he was a chef in training, Liam Power (yes, that is his real surname) quit the kitchen to pursue a career in magic.
Power performs illusions such as swallowing separate needles and a piece of cotton thread, only to pull them out of his mouth a short time later threaded together. Power walked away from his training at top restaurants including est., Pier, Balzac and Four in Hand, so you’ve got to wonder, what lured him from simmering sauces to smoke and mirrors.
“A friend-of-a-friend of my dad’s, Fran Ferry, was a magician doing charity shows for the Red Cross in Thailand. When I was 16 on holiday there with my family I met him on Christmas Day and he showed me some tricks. I was just blown away. That’s when I got started.”
He worked on perfecting card tricks from then on, but the idea of being a professional magician didn’t come until nearly five years into his career as a chef.
“A mate popped into Balzac one night and told my boss at the time, Matt Kemp, that I did magic. So he said, ‘Alright Liam, Saturday night is magic night!’ And after service and a few beers I’d do some magic tricks for everyone. That was when I realised that I really loved it,” says Power.
“Cooking and magic are both very creative. You need good basic techniques like sleight-of-hand, otherwise it will all be terrible. Just like in cooking you need to spend years learning the basic techniques and then you can grow from there. There’s a lot of trial and error in both of them.”
At the same time Kemp was encouraging him to entertain the kitchen crew, Power was offered the chance to learn from his original inspiration.
“I was still in contact with Fran, and when I was 22 he invited me to come to the States – he was near Boston – to be his apprentice and learn from him… So I went.” That was in 2011 and he hasn’t looked back. But the ex-chef hasn’t left all of his kitchen craft behind, seeing an opportunity for food and magic to work together.
“I always wanted to find a venue that would work well for amazing, intimate and close-up magic – mostly that’s wedding and corporate events – but I wanted a theatre-style setting. I wanted it to be about more than the magic. I wanted to create an amazing night out that included amazing food and wine.”
His search lead him to Studio Neon and owner-chef Aaron Teece. Power and Teece have created a dinner and a two-part show in the intimate space, with Studio Neon preparing dishes in its signature unexpected style. With two shows coming up (Friday July 31 and Friday September 11) expect to see a menu that includes tofu that isn’t tofu – made from pumpkin with walnuts, sage and Parmesan – and roasted kingfish served with the flavours and elements of boeuf bourguignon. “It’s what we do at Studio Neon, something a bit quirky and out of the box,” says Studio Neon head chef, Richard Robinson.
With just 30 diners at each event, all seated at one long table, everyone will have the best seat in the house says Power. He’ll perform mentalism and mind reading in addition to his sleight-of-hand and card tricks.
“It’s all a bit like cooking, there’re no new flavours really. It’s all been done before, but you need to find the balance and best flavours to work together. It’s the same with magic, you create a nice clear ‘wow moment’, but you do it your way.”
Liam Power will perform at Studio Neon on July 31 and September 11 at 7pm. Tickets include three courses and are $110pp. For bookings contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liam Power is also performing at The Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville on September 23, 25 and 27. Tickets start at $15. For bookings visit fringecomedy.com.au