Speak to Guy Jeffreys and it quickly becomes clear his career was always going to revolve around food: either growing or cooking it.
His passion for homegrown goodness is obvious and has fuelled a career so far earning him the respect of Western Australian diners and the broader hospitality industry – plus a few awards along the way.
“I always enjoyed cooking when I was young, and I wanted to get out of school and surf all day – so I thought working in a kitchen at night would be a good job and fell in love with cooking,” Guy said.
As his career progressed, it became clear some of his workplaces weren’t making the most of the freshest possible produce – which marked a turning point in Guy’s career direction and focus.
“I was working in some top restaurants around the place and we were using these veggies that weren’t like what I had at home – so I just thought I need to find somewhere that’s got a really big backyard and do what I do at home, just on a much larger scale.”
It was a decision that saw him eventually land at Millbrook Winery in Jarradale, where for 10 years he served as both Head Chef and gardener – including the development and maintenance of a rich and diverse one-acre vegetable garden servicing the Millbrook kitchen.
As one of WA’s only restaurants growing all its own fruit and veggies, Millbrook quickly developed an enviable reputation for top quality hyper-seasonal dishes.
“I came to Millbrook so I could do the gardening and bring all the vegetables and fruit into the restaurant to share with our guests,” Guy said.
“It’s just backyard gardening, but on a much larger scale. We head to the garden, pick the vegetables, take them up and cook them really simple – let the produce shine.”
In turning his food vision into a reality, Guy quickly built a reputation as one of WA’s most dynamic chefs – culminating in his being named the 2017 WA Good Food Guide Chef of the Year.
Following a decade growing and cooking produce at Millbrook Winery, in 2019 Guy became Executive Chef of Fogarty Wine Group – owners of Millbrook Winery and popular Margaret River locations Bunkers Beach House and Evans & Tate – where he oversees sourcing of fresh produce and menu development.
A food philosophy that really grows on you
Guy’s approach to cooking is simple: create restaurant menus that reflect the type of dishes he likes to cook for guests at his home, usually incorporating ingredients sourced from the backyard.
He admits he wouldn’t be the person or the cook he is today without the influence of home gardening on his food philosophy – which is all about respecting ingredients, getting creative with fresh produce and purchasing whole animals rather than just the basic cuts.
“We’re lucky in WA to have space for backyard gardens and it’s important to realise you can eat more than just the main part of a vegetable – don’t throw those beetroot leaves away, use them,” he says.
“You never run short of inspiration in the garden. In winter you’re looking at all the brassica, the broccoli, the cabbages. Then the broad beans are coming on. There’s always something, no matter the season.”
“Mother Nature’s the boss, and if you don’t work with her you’re not going to win.”
Looking to be more eco-friendly with cooking? Check out more tips for reducing waste in the kitchen and ways you can put your fruit and veggie scraps to good use as garden compost.
Demonstrating garden-to-plate in action
A focus on getting the most out of ingredients paved the way for Millbrook’s popular “No Waste Mondays” – a three-course shared lunch using fresh garden produce left over at the end of weekend service.
Options change weekly and guests are loving it – booking out lunch sittings well in advance and earning industry praise for its culinary creativity.
Check out more of Guy’s root-to-shoot food philosophy in action in these delicious and creative dishes:
Purslane and tomato salad
Sure, purslane’s a common weed – but it’s also great to eat and contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable. Guy keeps things super-simple and lets the deliciousness of fresh, firm tomatoes shine through.
Carrots, stems and all
Waste not, want not with this super-easy side dish of roasted carrots complemented perfectly with a tasty salsa using charred stems and leaves.
Pumpkin pasta (without the pumpkin)
If pumpkin isn’t in season, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat pumpkin. Guy gets creative by incorporating pumpkin flowers, stalks and leaves into a simple and delicious pasta.
Cucumbers cooked in sour cream with fish, wild fennel and samphire (from feature video)
Feeds four for dinner
1 fish head and wings (or four 200g fillets if you’re scared)
50g unsalted butter
1 lemon, zest and juice
3 cucumbers chopped into chunks (caigua and cucamelons if you can)
300g sour cream
Wild fennel seeds and flowers
Bottle of Millbrook Viognier
Heat a large frypan and add a splash of olive oil then sear seasoned fish head and wings skin side down.
Flip over, add some butter and roast in a preheated 220C oven for 10 minutes or until cooked.
While the fish is cooking heat a saucepan and add a splash of olive oil then sear chopped cucumbers.
Once they have a bit of colour add lemon zest, sour cream and a pinch of salt, then bring to the boil.
To serve squeeze lemon juice over the fish and place on a platter.
Pour over cucumbers cooked in sour cream and garnish with wild fennel and samphire.
Viognier pairs beautifully with fennel and cream, so don’t forget to pour this perfect wine match.