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Meet the chefs

Meet the chefs who’ll be appearing at the Kleenheat Kitchen at this year’s Perth Garden and Outdoor Living Festival between Thursday 11 May and Sunday 14 May 2023.

You can view when the chefs will be appearing and what they’ll be preparing here.

Don’t forget that Kleenheat customers can purchase half-priced tickets to the festival.

Rohan Park

Executive Chef, Old Young’s Kitchen and Old Young’s Distillery

When did you decide to become a chef, and how long have you been in the industry?

I have been in the industry for over 15 years and decided to become a chef later than most after tiring of the mining industry and deciding to follow my family roots into hospitality.  It was inevitable really with my mother being a food scientist, her mother (my grandmother) being a cooking lecturer and her father (my great grandfather being one of Perth’s most prominent pastry chefs in his day).

What are your favourite West Australian ingredients to use in your dishes? Are there any you are particularly inspired by right now?

Indigenous ingredients obviously hold a place close to my heart as my cuisine is so orientated around them with my career history gravitating towards them strongly alongside Nordic and Japanese cooking and fermentation techniques.  Right now I’m really happy to be incorporating some more of the lesser-used ingredients like cinnamon myrtle, anise myrtle, native lemongrass, bush tomato, and such, really trying to broaden guests’ horizons in this department.

Do you keep a garden? If so, what do you grow?

I definitely do, both at the restaurant and at home.  At home I have a lot of ingredients from my good friend Mark at Tuckerbush including desert lime, lemon myrtle, old man saltbush, native lemongrass and ‘jambinu zest’ Geraldton wax, while at work we have those as well as ruby saltbush, wild basil, native thyme, river mint, bush mint, wild mint, redback ginger, and others.  It has been really enjoyable getting down and dirty and supporting my menu with estate-grown ingredients with support from my home garden allowing us to be able to feed hundreds of people a week with such amazing and sustainably sourced produce.

What’s a go-to dish you prepare for yourself?

Noodles.  Udon, soba, ramen, stirfry, mee goreng.  No matter what stage of my life and/or career I find myself at I have always had an assortment of different noodles in the pantry for any type of weather.  I often question if I will ever tire of them.  Alas not yet.

What are some of your favourite restaurants and cafes in Perth?

That’s a hard one.  I really love the small business family-run holes in the wall like Uncle Lam’s Vietnamese in Morley or Oishii Ramen in Myaree.  But if I’m really feeling like a serious dinner experience I would say somewhere like Fleur, Wildflower, Heritage Wine Bar, Madalena’s, or Manuka Woodfire Kitchen.

If you were given a box containing tomatoes, green beans, and cauliflower how would you use them?

I would make a really simple salad of blanched and sliced beans with tomato concasse, shredded young coconut, fish sauce, lime, and sesame oil with the cauliflower slow-roasted whole then finished off with a wattle seed and jalapeño béchamel and brown butter bread crumbs.

Casey Lister

Cookbook Author and Gardener

When did you get into gardening, and what inspired you to start?

I’ve always loved gardening. When I was six my Mum and I snuck into my grandad’s garden and planted daffodils to surprise him for spring, and my grandmother picked posies of sweet peas for me to take home whenever I visited her. My parents grew fruit trees and as a kid I’d climb into the branches of cherry and peach trees. I love to be outside and I love to grow things.

What inspired you to create your ‘Seasoned’ cookbook?

There’s a certain kind of satisfaction in eating a dish filled with only those vegetables and herbs that you’ve grown yourself. I wanted to create a cookbook that would allow other gardeners to stock their pantry with the basics – rice, pasta, flour and cans of chickpeas – and then rely on their garden for the rest of a dish. You can only do this if every ingredient in a dish comes from the same season, so my goal was to create a book that celebrates each season with ingredients specific to that time of year.

What are your favourite local ingredients to incorporate into your dishes?

I’m a garlic addict. One recipe in my book calls for twenty cloves of garlic, and I had to specify in the introduction that that was not a typo. Garlic transcends different cultures and works with so many ingredients. I also love eating in-season tomatoes, and veggies that are at their best when eaten straight from the garden such as corn, asparagus and snake beans.

What’s your favourite recipe in your cookbook?

I think it would have to be between the Barley and Charred Corn Salad (I love the zingy, garlicky basil chimichurri), the Stuffed Baby Sweet Potatoes (you roast them until they’re caramelised and soft, then stuff them with goats cheese, fresh dill, roasted almonds, red onion and chilli) and the Strawberry and Honey Teacake.

What’s a go-to dish that you make for yourself?

My two most-cooked recipes are probably Basil Pesto and Butterbeans with Chilli, Garlic and Lemon which is such an easy, rustic and hearty side dish – perfect for dipping crusty bread into on a cold night with a glass of red wine.

Do you think there are plants that every WA gardener should have in their garden?

Everyone should be growing bananas – they do so well in Perth and fruit prolifically. Everyone should have at least one lemon tree to keep them in lemons throughout the year. Curry leaf trees offer beautiful, dappled shade and the leaves taste incredible in curries. I also think everyone should have a pot of Moroccan mint. For flowering plants Salvias, Bidens and Cistus do really well with our hot summers and relatively thin soils.  Last, I think everyone should get into growing artichokes – a delicious vegetable to steam and eat with lemony-garlic vinaigrette, and a beautiful, striking plant that thrives in our climate.

Caroline Taylor

Chef Presenter and Hospitality Consultant

When did you decide to become a chef, and how long have you been in the industry?

I started cooking professionally at 22 in my cafe in the Swan Valley. I couldn’t find a chef to cook the food we wanted so Kate and Fiona Lamont taught me how to run a kitchen, letting me work in their kitchens in Yallingup and the Swan Valley.

My brother and I started Taylor’s Art and Coffee House in 2005 and sold it to two of our young staff members in 2020. It was time to pass the baton on. I now work as a food presenter and hospitality consultant.

What are your favourite West Australian ingredients to use in your dishes? Are there any you are particularly inspired by right now? 

I love broad bean, asparagus, and fig season. It’s always a bit exciting when you know it’s getting closer. They all grow prolifically in the Swan Valley and remind me of my childhood.

Eggplant is such a versatile vegetable and grows easily at home. I love how nutty and creamy it gets when you sauté it, I add it into casseroles and curries to stretch out the meat component, it’s the best!

We’re always using Geraldton wax leaves in our dishes at home and lemon myrtle – they’re so fragrant and really low maintenance.

My partner Rohan uses saltbush to smoke meats when he’s grilling on the BBQ, that’s always a bit special.

Do you keep a garden? If so, what do you grow?

We only have a small space but we have sweet potato, Geraldton wax, lemon myrtle, saltbush, native lemongrass, dessert lime, mint and thyme all growing at the moment.

What’s a go-to dish you would prepare for yourself?

It would have to be chicken saag curry with cauliflower rice, or grass fed gravy beef cut in strips, cauliflower purée, baked zucchini, sautéed mushroom, and broccoli. They’re my meal prep go-tos, I never get sick of them, ever!

What are some of your favourite restaurants and cafes in Perth?

Si Paradiso, Young George, Fleur, Old Young’s Kitchen, Madalena’s, Uncle Lam’s Vietnamese and Manuka Woodfire Kitchen.

If you were given a box containing tomatoes, green beans, and cauliflower how would you use them?

I’d slow roast the tomatoes until they almost fall apart in a bit of balsamic vinegar, make a rich, smooth cauliflower purée with loads of butter, blanch the green beans, and season well.

Kenny McHardy

Director and Chef, Manuka Woodfire Kitchen

Originally hailing from New Zealand, Kenny’s career as a chef began at the age of 14. His career has since taken him to Michelin-starred kitchens in London and to the celebrated Two Hatted Walters Wine Bar in Melbourne.

In WA he has fronted the kitchens of The Garden in Leederville, Coco’s Restaurant in South Perth, The Red Herring in East Fremantle, and Due South in Albany.

Kenny’s reputation has continued to excel with the success of Manuka Woodfire Kitchen in Fremantle. At Manuka, Kenny uses his woodfire oven and open flames to create simple yet innovative woodfired fare. The restaurant sources local, seasonal produce from WA growers and producers from Carnavon to the Great Southern, while supporting ethical and sustainable farming.

The name Manuka comes from Kenny’s fond childhood memories of growing up in New Zealand collecting manuka firewood at his home on Kawau Island.

Kenny and his team have been awarded a Chef’s Hat from the Australian Good Food Guide along with coveted spots in the Gourmet Traveller and WA Good Food Guide Top Restaurants awards.