Richard Ousby: Cooking Is When I Feel At Home

Amanda Bowen moonlights as Brisbane Foodie and wishes there were more meals in a day.

For some years, walking around the last bend of South Bank near the Goodwill Bridge was a bit of a non-affair. Faded wooden boardwalk, a few restaurants, and the distinct feeling of being tucked away. Certainly not somewhere you’d find an award-winning chef making waves on the culinary scene. The River Quay precinct of stunning eateries we know today couldn’t be any more different. With Popolo Italian Kitchen & BarJetty South BankAquitaine Brasserie and Cove Bar & Dining all beautiful venues to enjoy the lights of the City and some fine cuisine, it is Stokehouse‘s star that shines brightly; a shimmering jewel in River Quay’s crown. 

What makes Stokehouse so special is Head Chef Richard Ousby at the helm, accounting for some of Stokehouse’s je ne sais quoi. At just 32 years-of-age, Richard has worked with some of the country’s greatest culinary artists and won several prestigious awards, including the San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Young Chef Of The Year in 2012. But it’s not merely his curriculum vitae that impresses – it is what he brings to every plate: classical French influences and innovative, while championing local produce. His work is clean and precise, where every dish has that little something that captivates. Patrons of Stokehouse understand exactly what this means.

It is this exciting energy that Richard will bring to his dessert collaboration alongside Executive Chef Cameron Matthews – who we also interviewed recently, which you can read here – at the Variety Of Chefs Ball this Saturday at the Hilton Brisbane Hotel. The dynamic duo will undoubtedly plate up sweet show-stoppers for the final dishes of the evening. In the lead up to this distinguished event that sees ten of the country’s top chefs coming together to cook for a cause, we sit down with Richard to talk all things Stokehouse, olive oil and #VOC2015.

Stokehouse had quite a few adventures in 2014. What exciting things have been happening at Stokehouse Brisbane and has Stokehouse Melbourne bounced back?
At the moment, Stokehouse Q has been keeping things exciting by sourcing more great produce. White Stokehouse City in Melbourne is doing well and the rebuild of Stokehouse St Kilda is underway and scheduled to finish by early 2016.

Stokehouse is without a doubt one of Brisbane’s fine dining standouts – particularly with its attention to fresh produce. What is Stokehouse’s approach to food?
It is forever changing with the times. The enduring tone is a fresh, local and interested approach to our food, underpinned by Mediterranean flair.
Classical French has formed the basis of many chefs’ skills in Brisbane: why do you think this is such a strong foundation to work from?
I think French is the basis of most chefs in the western world because it is flavour and produce driven. It can be very simple or very intricate – sometimes all in one bite.

Food has different meanings to everyone. What does food mean to you and what is your ethos towards it?
Food for me is the base of some of my best memoirs. It always fills me with pleasure – cooking is when I feel at home.

Given you produce your own olive oil with David Cockerill, what differences do you find in Australian olive oil as opposed to imported oils?
I think it comes down to how Australian olive oil is produced. The whole process is done with integrity and care, making it some of the most respected olive oil in the world. David’s oil is a thoughtful, careful and perfect table oil which I love serving at Stokehouse. I’m sure there are fantastic oils from overseas, but Cudgegong Olive Oil just makes sense to me.

Variety Queensland achieves incredible success as a charity raising funds to assist children with special needs and their families. Why is Variety so important to you and how is Variety of Chefs so important to the community?
It’s a great cause that helps those who need it most. I think because of its key ethos to help others. It really brings the community together.

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