In the Kitchen with Head Chef Saul Collins – The Vinyard Restaurant and Bar
How long have you been a Chef?
I have been a Chef for eighteen years. I have been at the Vinyard since it has opened which has been about nineteen months now.
Who Was your biggest inspiration, while you were training to be a Chef?
Dad was a Chef, so he was a big inspiration for me I always wanted to be a Chef and follow in my dads footsteps. I grew up sitting in kitchens as a young kid surrounded by food.
As a kid what was your favourite food memory?
I don’t have just one memory in particular but many. I started my apprenticeship when I was fifteen so I got introduced to a lot of really great food when I was young, my eyes were always open and I got to taste some amazing food. I was definitely introduced to the fine dining experience early on.
What is your favourite kitchen appliance or gadget?
There are a lot of things that I couldn’t do without. Probably my Blender as I use that a lot. I apply classical, old fashioned techniques so also couldn’t do without my Mandoline Slicer, this is a great little tool used for precision cutting.
How do you sum up the menu at the Vinyard?
The menu is as local as possible. About 80% of the seafood is local. I also use pork belly from Biggendon, and I also use Kawangan Butcher’s, All of my beef and pork is bought locally. Here at the Vinyard we try not be to pretentious, in fact I think we cater for everyone. We cook dishes from fried calamari to Coq au Vin, and everything in between. We have an emphasis on seafood and showcase the Hervey Bay scallops. Our menu is seasonal and is changed about four to five times a year at the moment we have Beef Cheeks as part of our winter warmers. Our cheese platters are world class. We use real cheeses like Stilton, Cave Aged Cheddar from the UK, Le formulaire Brie, these cheeses are only the best, and expensive.
What is the newest trend that you see emerging?
I think the new trend is cooking without flour, the food is a lot lighter now and also a lot fresher. Back in the day everything had flour and ruse and thick sauces. About 90% of our menu is now gluten free so there is definitely no more stodgy thick sauces that were the norm back in the day.
What advice would you give a novice just getting into the business?
You just have to stick with it, it is really hard work and there is a lot of behind the scenes work like washing the dishes and some other fairly crappy Jobs like that. You need to have a love of food to start with, because without the love of food, it is simply not worth the heartache and pain as Chefs don’t get paid a whole heap of money.
You have to have lots of dedication and do a lot of research as well. In this day and age you can look up anything on the internet everything is at your fingertips. So I guess it is just having a thirst for knowledge and putting the hard yakka in.
What do you most like to cook?
I think it would be Confit Duck Leg, this is my favourite thing to cook, I cook pretty wicked Pork Belly too.
How long have you lived on the Fraser Coast for?
My wife and I have been here for about three years. We have two young kids so we like to go down to the beach and go fishing as that is something that I enjoy. The Fraser Coast is a great place for young kids.
What Is the strangest item in your fridge right now?
I have a few items in my fridge right now that could be considered strange. I have some Shrimp Paste at the moment or Saffron, I also have a few Finger Limes as well.
– Written by Kim Parnell