It looks like Verre by Gordon Ramsay has undergone a complete facelift. The decor’s new, and you’re new... Are the changes just superficial, or is it a true relaunch?
To be honest, it’s kind of like a blank canvas. The restaurant’s been closed for three months after a fire, and we went in there and started from scratch. I think I’ve kept one dish on the menu. I really wanted to open up with something fresh.
So the menu’s new as well? What else has changed?
There’s a new glass floor, and it’s really different to any restaurant I’ve been in. We have the chef’s table in there now – I’m really looking forward to starting that off. Plus, all the dishes we’re going to do are really bespoke, and the chefs have more interaction with guests. You can see through to the kitchen and we explain all the dishes, serve them a bit differently and make it more like theatre for guests.
What would you say is your signature style as a chef?
I like to keep things quite simple. The flavour is the most important thing. I try not to overcomplicate things – I keep ingredients as fresh as possible and of the highest quality I can find.
Speaking of that, do you think you’ll be using more local ingredients?
Ideally, I’d really like to. It’s important that you support the local produce and what it has to offer, so I’m trying to look at what is available around here. Obviously we have an amazing array of fresh spices on the door of the creek, as well as the wide range of seafood.
Of all the dishes on the menu, which is your favourite?
Well, I like my poached lobster dish, though at the moment we’re trying to keep things simple because it’s a new menu. Once we get going, we’ll make things a little more technical.
This may be a touchy subject, but we noticed the prices are pretty high – at least as high as they’ve always been. We’ve seen other restaurants in town dropping their prices. How do you justify that?
That’s a good point. I’ve tried to keep the price point the same as before we closed. I haven’t tried to put prices down. I’m just trying to work using [former executive chef Matt Pickop’s] format. Of course, if people aren’t coming to the restaurant we’ll have to review what we do. Hopefully it won’t be an issue.
We heard a rumour that Gordon Ramsay sends in spies to all his restaurants to make sure they’re running smoothly. Is that true?
I’ve heard that as well, although I don’t know if it’s true. At the end of day, Gordon is Gordon. If he has his name above anything, he wants it to be as good as it can be. Obviously he gives the go-ahead for most of the things we come up with. A big part of the reason he’s successful is that he puts the right people in the right places. He’s aware that people have creative sides and lets them go, but he keeps an eye on what we’re doing.
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