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Greg Vankuyk describes Stanley Street Station in East Sydney as an ‘urban playground’ and it’s perfectly at home with the area’s creative spaces, tiny bars and colourful nightlife.
The aim is less about formal dining and more about playing board games, checking out the ever-changing art installations and wiling the afternoon away over an all-day menu and breezy cocktails.
Where did you grow up?
“In the North Island of New Zealand.”
When did you realise you wanted to be a chef?
“Growing up I used to cook a lot with my grandmother. It was when I was about 15 that I decided I wanted to make a living from my passion.”
Is there one dish you still struggle to get right?
“To replicate my grandmother’s banana cake, it still doesn’t taste the same as I remembered. Knowing her there would have been some ‘secret’ ingredient. “
What does it take to be a successful chef?
“Patience, dedication, passion, and you have to be excellent multi-tasker!”
Worst job you have ever had?
“Cleaning toilets after school...my stomach turns just thinking about it...”
What is your signature dish?
“Roast char-grilled Atlantic salmon, pomme puree, balsamic jus, lime aioli and green leaf. I could eat salmon every day.”
What is unique about your restaurant?
“Stanley Street Station is based loosely on the concept of psychogeography - the artistic notion of jolting pedestrians off their predictable paths, hopefully resulting in new awareness of the urban landscape...perfect for the arts hub where it is located.”
What is the chef serving in heaven?
“New Zealand steamed crayfish, topped with Sevruga caviar, citrus beurre blanc, rocket and white asparagus.”
What is the most bizarre dish you have ever tried?
“Fried crickets, and ducks brains.”
What is one question people are always asking you?
“What do you specialise in?” I find that you have to educate people about the modern day kitchen and about modern Australian cuisine; realistically you have to be able to do everything!”
What is your biggest food indulgence?
“At the moment, I have a freakishly sweet tooth. During this launch phase of Stanley Street Station I have become addicted to sugar.”
How do you have your coffee?
“Double shot cappuccino with 2.”
What ingredient are you obsessed with right now?
“Local small goods and condiments. There are so many local products on the market of such high quality.”
Which three people would to invite to a dinner party?
“Gordon Ramsey, Bono and Barack Obama.”
What is your best tip for home cooks?
“Use your imagination and experiment within reason. Adding your own personal touch is always more rewarding.”