Your first memory of food? My mom cooking offal in the kitchen in Sydney — disturbing but fascinating. She encouraged me to cook and bought different cookbooks. The first dish I made was lasagne and then we moved on to casseroles, cakes, pancakes and that kind of kids' stuff.
Where did it all start? I've been a chef my whole adult life. I left school at 15 and started cooking mainly European and Mediterranean food. I went to Europe and worked there when I was 17 years old and spent a lot of time in Asia running European-style bistros in Hong Kong, Thailand and Burma. I then met a nice South African girl, Angela Shaw, came back to South Africa with her in 1995 and never left. We set up a little cafe called Rocket in Durban at the Plaza Hotel down by the Waterfront. After that, I did some private catering and then went back to Asia. I returned in 2000, spent time with friends of mine who had a game farm north of Joburg and then met Sarah, who would become my wife and mother of my children, and did some catering. I opened a little club called Color Bar at 44 Stanley Avenue, ran a kitchen there and had lunch at the Troyeville Hotel once a week with my friend, Lloyd. It was my favourite local.
Where do you eat when you're not at Troyeville Hotel? Little places you find popping up in Chinatown. There's always something new. Then there's Gema, the pizzeria down the road with lovely wood-fired pizza that the kids love, so we go there regularly. There's also The Leopard in Melville and great Indian places in Fordsburg, but I work so much that it's usually dinner with friends at their houses more often.
Where are you originally from? Sydney. I started off in a little French restaurant as an apprentice, with a couple of French chefs teaching me how to cook and was very interested in travel from age of 15.
What have you made for us? A famous Portuguese classic, prawns nacional. It's always been a part of the hotel but not an everyday feature, so we do it once a week or fortnight. It's a delicious dish with a lot of Mozambican influence. Troyeville Hotel food isn't just classic Portuguese food, it's more Mozambican and spicy than traditional Portuguese, like the piri-piri chicken, which we inherited and other spicy dishes with coconut flavours too.