Russell Blaikie - Chef/partner, Must Winebar
What do you like most about your job?
I take pleasure in seeing people enjoying themselves. Our customers are here to have a great time, and it is a gratifying feeling to know that your team is delivering that.
This covers so many things; like seeing a customer’s face (through the window to our kitchen) when a plate of food arrives that my team has proudly prepared, and seeing that positive reaction, or talking to customers in the bar who are soaking in the atmosphere and feeling like they are in another city…not Perth.
Your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
Trying to run a kitchen before I had all the professional tools to do so. I’ve found that I need to invest a large amount of time and energy into training my team in the kitchen; giving them the guidance as a mentor in many cases; to enable these great young cooks become fantastic and empowered chefs.
You are probably expecting me to write wagyu beef, fresh foie gras that I prepared and tasted in London, black truffles freshly dug off Al Blakers' property in Pemberton…nup...it’s pizza cooked in my woodfired oven at home. It’s as much about the relaxed environment, and the fact it is always enjoyed with friends and family, as it is about the food.
Favourite Chinese/Asian restaurant?
I like Phi Yen, for the satays. Red Teapot is probably the pick for modern Chinese.
If you had to take guests to a restaurant in Perth other than your own where would you go and why?
For a casual night out – Little Creatures; for the absolute theatre of the place, pretty good pizza and great beer. Big night out with great food, Star Anise.
Favourite interstate restaurant?
Quay in Sydney. Chef Peter Gilmore is a genius, his food is exciting, innovative and the location on Circular Quay is awesome.
Favourite international restaurant?
Haven’t been overseas for a long time, but planning a trip to San Francisco within the year and would not go there without a visit to the French Laundry. I see it as a culinary pilgrimage, and I see chef Thomas Keller as one of the world’s divine food identities.
What’s your pet hate in the kitchen/your business?
Anything dirty in the kitchen. Clean, clean and clean again.
Cookbook you couldn’t live without?
This changes almost weekly with every new purchase! Currently it is Eggs by Michel Roux.
What kitchen tool would you hate to be without?
Apart from a knife…kitchen aid mixer. It really puts the joy back into pastry work.
What wine or wine style are you enjoying right now?
I am developing a habit for red Burgundy, which is a little expensive (but quite pleasurable). I may have to go into rehab soon.
If you weren’t doing your current job what would you be doing?
A sport fishing guide, in Broome, Shark Bay or Exmouth.