20/07/2004 - 22:00

Gusto

20/07/2004 - 22:00

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Jason Walker learned his trade from some of Europe’s finest chefs, and Altos is the beneficiary, as Julie-anne Sprague reports.

Gusto

Jason Walker learned his trade from some of Europe’s finest chefs, and Altos is the beneficiary, as Julie-anne Sprague reports.

When Jason Walker left London three years ago he knew he would only be content working at a restaurant that prided itself on quality food.

At the time he had spent eight years working under some of Europe’s best chefs, including Marco Pierre White, Gary Rhodes, Philip Howard, and Pierre Koffman. 

After researching the restaurant scene in Perth Mr Walker approached Altos Bistro owner Stephen Scaffidi about a job in the Altos kitchen.

“I took a bit of a holiday and doshed around a bit and I ate at a lot of places to work out who the best was,” Mr Walker says.

“I approached Stephen [Scaffidi] for a job and went in with my CV and he offered me a job in the kitchen. He was going through a transition of staff and when the head chef left, I slotted in.

“It’s allowed me to have the opportunity to cook the style of food I’m experienced at, French and Italian, and to have the best product. That’s what I’m used to.

“We make everything from scratch, from the puff pastry to the pasta and the gnocchi, the sauces and all the way down to the ice cream. We have an ice cream machine here and we do it ourselves.”

Mr Walker has been the head chef at Altos for about two years, during which time the Middlesbrough boy has learned to meet the challenges of Perth’s isolation.

“When I was in England I was so close to Europe and the variety of produce,” he says.

“I could get on the phone and get a delivery from Europe within 24 hours.

“It’s difficult in Perth because it’s a smaller city and there is not a demand for certain produce. It’s possible to get, but Perth pays a higher price for it than Melbourne or Sydney because we have to source it from there and pay the freight.”

Mr Walker’s career has been inspired to a large degree by his older brother, Darren.

“I grew up in Middlesbrough in north east England and when I was 19 my brother, who was a chef in London, encouraged me to move down there,” he says.

“I went down there and spent eight years in London, moving from restaurant to restaurant. I had no idea which ones were the best so I took a lot of advice from my brother. With the really good jobs it’s the same as it is in Perth; it comes from word of mouth.

“I worked in the kitchens with some of the best chefs. Guys like Marco Pierre White, Phil Howard, and Pierre Koffman; they ran two-star Michelin restaurants. Eight years ago they were the top of their field and if you wanted to be trained by the best, you went there.”

Mr Walker says the training was tough and he hasn’t adopted all of their techniques to teach junior chefs just how food is cooked.

“Have you seen the TV program Gordon Ramsay does? He was trained by these guys and the way he carries on is very intimidating and you have to be a strong person yourself to do a 12 or 14-hour day and to accept the abuse. A lot of chefs I trained with couldn’t do it and they left because of the pressure,” he says.

“I put these guys under pressure but it’s never physical.

“Back then there was a lot of pushing and shoving. Our kitchen [at Altos] really works as a team because everyone is on contract and everyone knows that if you are not up to standard, you just move on.”

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