We’re currently focusing on New Kids on the Block – those businesses recently opened up on Margaret River’s main street!
Q: Who are you and what’s your one line elevator pitch?
Matt: Well, we’re two-thirds of the partnership behind Margaret River Tuck Shop…I’m Matt, a Glorified Food Transport Device. Hospitality is in my blood. I grew up around kitchens, my Dad is a chef and Mum was a sommelier, front-of-house person so it’s in my blood.
Simon: And I’m Simon, Executive of the Dishes, aka the chef. Elevator pitch? We’re not trying to do fine dining, we’re doing a quirky and modern drive in food using the best fresh produce we can get, educating people using the natural flora and fauna, with an emphasis on seafood.
Q: What’s something interesting about you that people may not know?
Matt: I’m a jack of all trades – I love working with my hands and we did most of the renovations here ourselves. Rip the floor up? No worries. Climb under the building? Sure.
Simon: When we first took over this place the first thing we wanted to do was bang out that kitchen wall to have an open pass so you can connect with your customers. There’s nothing better at the end of the day when someone walks by and gives you the thumbs up and says that was a great dish. And not just for me, but for the young guys. We’ve got an apprentice now and it’s more self-worth for them, cos if you go back to the beginning of my chef’ing days it was dismal –
Matt: – locked in a dungeon –
Simon: Yeah, but it’s great these days having that connection to the customers. I froth on the adrenalin, being under pressure.
Matt: Yeah, I don’t switch off, I thrive under pressure.
Q: Some chefs don’t handle pressure too well – you don’t seem like the plate-throwing kind of chef…
Simon: Yeah, no, I was in that transition period. I had a lot of good mentors but they were angry, salty, Gordon Ramsy wannabees. A lot of these chefs would tell me to give up, stick with uni, but I loved cooking.
Matt: Back in those days they used to work them – split shifts and underpaid. Now salaries have gone up, conditions have improved, the work life balance has gone up. Especially after COVID, a lot of chefs have started to realise what they’re worth and are getting paid what they’re worth.
Simon: At the same time a lot have given up because hospitality was the first thing to go with COVID. It’s actually the reason why we’re here.
Q: Great, that’s the next question: why did you decide to take on a restaurant in Margs?
Simon: When COVID hit, my head chef role was one of the first to go and that kind of sparked the final fuse. We’re at that point in our life where we want to do it ourselves. We’ve been working long enough in the industry, just over 32 years between Matt and I. Did uni degrees but then stuck with chef’ing – I just love the camaraderie and hospitality somehow. Sickly!
Matt: A lot of people have said COVID was the great reset, a lot of people took chances they wouldn’t have normally, and that’s us. We could have gone anywhere but this place is a food Mecca.
Simon: Coming to the food bowl and being surrounded by all your producers, being able to connect with farmers and literally be able to see your live product. It brings self-worth and connection.
Q: What’s your personal favourite thing on the menu and why?
Matt: Definitely the scallops. The freshness, beautiful amazing flavours, and how it all ties together.
Simon: It’s hard to decide. The ceviche is close to my heart, a work in progress over a number of years, but I’d have to say the scallops. An Asian-influenced, summery scallop dish with native salt-bush crispness.