Sam Bourke, Margaret, Double Bay
Sam, like his brother Luke, grew up in Penrith on Darug country, with ties to the Palawa people of Tasmania. Food has always been important in his family (his sister is also a chef), and he and his brother Luke were always encouraged to help out in the kitchen at home. It has paid off.
After an apprenticeship through the NICI program at Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sam marked his graduation by moving to Rosetta as sous chef to work with executive chef Richard Purdue, whom he credits with his continued growth as a chef. The connection is now continuing at Neil Perry’s new restaurant, Margaret, in Double Bay, where Richard Purdue is head chef.
At Rosetta, Sam appreciated the fact that he was cooking from scratch. It wasn’t simply a case of pan-frying a fillet of fish, it was learning to break down a whole fish into its many parts and use them all. Trips to key producers and growers kept the learning coming. And all the while, his interest in Australia’s own unique ingredients grew.
Now, he’s made it his mission to raise awareness of Indigenous herbs, spices and other ingredients, and wants to help Indigenous and non-indigenous people understand more about the diversity of native Australian foods available. “I want people to buy them for lunch and use them in their home kitchen, as if it’s something normal,: he says. “Not just drink Earl Grey tea, but lemon myrtle tea. It would be great if native ingredients became so mainstream they were like Vegemite on toast, something you don’t even think about.”
His long-term dream is to have his own restaurant with his brother Luke. “We’re looking at a mixed-use space, maybe a warehouse, where we could do breakfast in the morning, and a couple of dinners, and events” he says. “We’re very inspired by the kitchen at Agnes in Brisbane, where food is cooked over coals on an open hearth. It will happen, one day”.