20/11/2007 - 22:00

Angove finds his niche at Leeuwin

20/11/2007 - 22:00


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Leeuwin Estate head chef Danny Angove is a big fan of David Coomer so, when he’s up in Perth, he’ll more than likely be spending some time at Star Anise restaurant in Shenton Park.

Angove finds his niche at Leeuwin

Leeuwin Estate head chef Danny Angove is a big fan of David Coomer so, when he’s up in Perth, he’ll more than likely be spending some time at Star Anise restaurant in Shenton Park.

Mr Angove says Mr Coomer’s ability to create sensational food more than justifies the prices.

But while he admires what Mr Coomer has achieved since he established Star Anise almost a decade ago, Mr Angove has no ambition to do anything similar – owning and operating a restaurant is not his big dream.

“I looked at buying a restaurant down here [Margaret River] and thought better of it,” Mr Angove says. “You would have to buy freehold and I’d be putting too much on the line. What you are doing is buying your job, and it could be very detrimental.”

Mr Angove has had a taste of life as his own boss, however, when he became a consulting chef after leaving his head chef job at Margaret River’s Vat 107 a few years ago.

It was a big change for Mr Angove, who spent almost six years at Vat 107, helping build the venue’s reputation as one of the town’s great food and wine venues.

Mr Angove started cooking at private functions, as well as consulting to other restaurants, including Caves House and Guildford’s Rose & Crown.

Then he got a call about an opportunity to take up the head chef role at Leeuwin Estate.

Mr Angove has been at the helm for about six months and, after hiring the right staff, he says the restaurant is humming along.

“We are not going to get a French waiter down here so what we look for is enthusiastic people who enjoy it but that also have a life outside of here,” Mr Angove says.

“If they have a family or other things in their life, they can switch off.”

The restaurant has predominately been a lunchtime operation but, as of a few weeks ago, Mr Angove and his team started a dinner service on Friday and Saturday nights.

Working at the renowned winery has been a positive move, Mr Angove says.

But he attributes much of the good time he is having to working with a great team of people.

“It is like a family down here,” he says. “Everyone works well together.

“It is really quite good; it’s not just a restaurant, it’s a winery and there are lots of concerts.”

He credits much of the restaurant’s ability to provide quality food and service to Travers O’Rafferty, who overseas the venue’s front of house and kitchen operations.

Mr Angove meets with Mr O’Rafferty and a member from the front-of-house team every Friday morning to go over function bookings, special requests and other events. It’s a move that has helped keep everyone “on the same page”, he says, and creates a more smooth operation without the unwanted surprises.

Mr Angove has been cooking in the South West since 1999, first at Neal Jackson’s former restaurant Louisa’s in Bunbury, before taking up a job at VAT 107.

But even all of that South West wining and dining experience behind him, he has never sold as much cheese as in his time at Leeuwin.

“It’s unbelievable,” Mr Angove says. “I don’t think I’ve ever sold more of it in my life. We serve up four cheeses on an old cheese board, which suits this rustic place, and people sit back and enjoy the wine and the cheese.

“We have some people fly in here and just do that.”


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