When starting a course and work in the hospitality industry, you may never think your creations will be critiqued by some of the best restaurateurs from across the globe.
For former Coffs Harbour TAFE commercial cookery student Beau Clugston, this is now classified as the “norm”.
Hailing from Sawtell, Beau dreamed of the opportunity to work in a profession where he could surf the breaks of the Coffs Coast but still earn an income to support the North Coast lifestyle. “I wanted to work at night, so I could surf in the mornings,” Beau says.
Before recently opening his own restaurant in Paris, Beau had been meticulously working away and honing in on his cookery skills all over the world. After working with the likes of Gordon Ramsay for several years in London, Beau was blown away by the flavours and produce he experienced after dining at one of the best restaurants in the world – Noma in Copenhagen.
“To go from Gordon Ramsay in London, where I used lots of fats, butter and a more heavy approach to cooking, at Noma (in Copenhagen), I could use lots of vegetables and was able to split sauces without fats …It was something I had never experienced before.”
Beau’s experience at Noma and his persistence to find out more eventually landed him a job in their test kitchen. “I turned up at the back door every day for a week, until Rene (Redzepi) got sick of me and said, ‘Come in for a trial’.”
Working in the research and development team at Noma allowed Beau to “create a new alphabet” with food.
“I really developed my power and started to look at food in a different light. When cooking at Noma, you’re cooking without reference. You’re reaching for new flavours and it means more to people; it’s done something to you … It’s touched you.”
After the opportunity to work alongside Rene Redzepi, Beau got itchy feet and jumped at the opportunity to open a restaurant in the classy, fashionable and hip 11th arondissement of Paris; Le 6 Paul Bert.
“A big reason why I ended up here (in Paris) was to work with the array of produce and be able to cook in the mecca of cuisine. You hear about the Michelin guide and the Top 50; a lot of those things are in Europe. We’re in the dead of winter and still have access to incredible citrus, flowers and tomatoes … The variety is amazing here.”
Working with ingredients that can be enjoyed as bar snacks, a multi course menu or as à la carte, Beau tests various produce to create amazing dishes for people interested in exploring an array of different food pairings.
One of his creations includes fish, bergamot, sudachi (Japanese citrus fruit) and red peppers, paired with oil made from peppercorns and rose petals.
“They have a luxurious texture, and the brightness with the heat of the oil gives (the peppers) layers and complexity.”
When asked about the future of his restaurant, he was excited but also outlined the potential as being “scary”.
“It will be challenging, but I’m excited because I can cook to my own standards now, not someone else’s. It’s scary, because you have no limit.”
Beau often thinks about his hometown of Sawtell and lauds the produce on offer across not only the Coffs Coast, but the wider North Coast of NSW.
“I travelled all of Australia on the Noma trips, and we were in Dorrigo to look at the pepper, in the Byron Bay hinterland to look at the finger limes …There’s an incredible micro-climate in Coffs Harbour and the surrounding areas. The more time I spend in Australia, the more I realise the amazing produce that is there.”
Beau hopes to one day return home and open his own establishment in Sawtell.
“I think about it a lot. I think about the incredible products available in Coffs Harbour. I think about the café culture … There’s no real café culture in Paris; we have more of a restaurant culture. It’s hard to meet up with friends here and get a good breakfast. It’s my dream to one day come home and open up my own café in Sawtell.”
Anyone interested in a commercial cookery course at TAFE is encouraged to visit www.northcoasttafe.edu.au
If you are travelling to France in the near future, Beau encourages people to visit his restaurant in Paris – Le 6 Paul Bert.
You can find out more at www.le6paulbert.com