Aw Shucks! Q&A with chef Oliver Carruthers
12 questions with Noosa executive chef at Cafe le Monde, Oliver Carruthers
Name: Oliver Carruthers
Position: Executive Chef
Restaurant: Café le Monde, Noosa Heads
How and why did you decide on a career as a chef?
I had great exposure to food as a kid, going to Europe every year with my parents, getting to try a fantastic array of different food. But the moment I decided I wanted to be a chef wasn’t that deep – I was watching a film called Goodfellas. There’s a scene when Pauly and his crew end up in prison they turn their cell into a kitchen, cooking lobsters and steak. I couldn’t help but think how cool cooking is and how much pleasure you get from preparing a meal as well as eating it!
As soon as I started working in the kitchen I knew it was a job for life. I loved the intensity, the pleasure from doing something you love, and the characters you meet.
Where have your previously worked? And what are some of your career highlights?
I was fortunate to start my career at Jason Atherton’s 1st restaurant (he now has over 20, many of them Michelin-starred). After moving to Australia I worked with Peter Gilmore at Quay and Guillame Brahimi at Bennelong, before taking over at Bambini Trust.
What do you love the most about being a chef?
It’s great going to work every day knowing what you do gives people pleasure.
How would you describe your approach to food?
I like to cook the right food for the environment I’m in. In Noosa my aim is to cook food that’s tasty, but also with a healthy balance. Sustainability is important, this includes providing a sustainable environment for people to work in, not making them work until they burn out. Chefs have stressful jobs, it’s important to look after them.
Who is your favourite local Noosa producer?
Having an oyster bar, the quality and freshness is paramount. Greg from Diabla oysters on Stradbroke Island, and Andy from Q Oysters Moreton Bay have been a huge support in achieving our success. These guys go above and beyond for us. On a busy week over Christmas, we ran short of oysters so we chartered a plane, flew to Stradbroke island, pulled 300 dozen oysters out of the water and flew them back for dinner service!
I love the organic bread and pastries from Tanglewood Bakery; and George at Voodoo Bacon is also amazing. Once you’ve tasted his bacon, no other will do.
Do you think it is important to use local produce and why?
Noosa is such an amazing place, the more we can do to help and support local people to succeed here the better. The Snail of Approval lets people know what we stand for.
What has been the most rewarding moment of your career so far?
There’ve been so many rewarding moments in my career, although being able to cook and live in Noosa is pretty special.
Who is your inspiration when it comes to culinary creations?
Georgio Locatelli is amazing for great Italian food, more recently the boys at Porteno in Sydney, and places like Firedoor and Three Blue Ducks.
Do you cook at home and if so, what do you like to cook?
As often as I can! A big lump of meat cooked over coals on my BBQ with as many people to share it with as possible.
What are the highlights of your latest menu at Café le Monde?
We’ve been running a few poke bowls, which started as a Hawaiian dish, but now has a massive Japanese influence -it’s the perfect food for when you come out of the surf. The 12 hour lamb shoulder flies out the door.
What is your favourite kitchen tool?
We have great fun with our hot and cold smokers and with the quantity of oysters we do, I have to love my shucker!
What is your favourite ingredient?
Hard to go past a fresh oyster, shucked straight out of the water.