CHOW- DOWN- Chris Taylor wants The Old Brewery to become the best steakhouse in Perth

Taylor made for taste

HE doesn't care for hospitality awards. If you've overstayed your welcome, he's not afraid to usher you out the restaurant's door. He unabashedly admits he's in it for the money, although he does love the industry and concedes the margins are small.

What he strives for is to be a leader in supplying customers with consistent quality produce and service, at whatever cost.

And for all this, Fraser's Group chief Chris Taylor is unapologetic.

"I don't want to be the latest kid on the block," Mr Taylor told Gusto.

Heading up the kitchen at Fraser's Restaurant in Kings Park, while taking charge of the Fraser's Group, which includes Indiana's on Cottesloe, Bluewater Grill in Applecross and now the revamped The Old Brewery along the Swan River, Mr Taylor is far from the new boy in town.

In October 2007, the Fraser's Group took over the Old Swan Brewery and has since rebranded the heritage-listed establishment, refurbishing it into a premier steakhouse and getting the beer flowing again.

With a rustic-meets-retro warehouse look, big steel beams and wrought iron girders, the new The Old Brewery has an earthy, masculine feel, but not to the point where women won't feel comfortable there.

"It is a bit blokey perhaps, but blokes go out with girls," Mr Taylor said.

"Still, I had to soften it up a little bit. We have the 1.4-kilogram Wagyu steaks on the menu, but there's internal controversy about why we put 120-gram steaks on the new menu.

"I put it on there because that's what women eat, and that's what blokes eat as well. It's not just about meat; I want to make the best steakhouse in Perth, but you've got to be smart about what you're doing, so it's my role to identify that and to get it up and going.

"It's a big package, make no mistake, it's about more than the food. The toilets have got to look good, you've got to be clean, the beer's got to be good and brewed and there's got to be story behind it, and the wine's got to be good."

While running four of Perth's larger establishments under the Fraser's Group presents challenges for Mr Taylor, the experienced chef says allowing each restaurant manager to make decisions relevant to their own operation has been a winning formula.

"It's important that these guys have a profile; all I do is set the perimeter and they all run their places independently," Mr Taylor said.

Greg Farnan, former head chef at Fraser's, has been appointed chef and general manager of The Old Brewery, overseeing more than a dozen different cuts of meat on the heavily red meat-weighted menu.

"A good steakhouse needs good quality produce, and consumers these days are pretty smart. They know what good food is and they know what they are paying for and we don't skimp on the food, we source nothing but the finest cuts," Mr Farnan told Gusto.

With a passion for red meat, Mr Farnan has travelled across Australia and abroad, sourcing the best cuts and researching the entire process from paddock to plate.

He introduced a new range of dry-aged beef at The Old Brewery, including the mammoth Wagyu 'Tomahawk' steak - a 1.4-kilogram rib eye carved by the chef on the customer's table when ordered.

And to the delight of many Perth diners, The Old Brewery now offers three boutique beers - the Bavarian-style lager Riverside Reserve, American-style Angus Pale Ale, and Northern-English-style Mounts Bay Brown Ale.

Brewer Mark Reilly, who gained experience at the Duckstein and Ironbark breweries in the Swan Valley, heads up the on-site microbrewery.


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