Rory’s School Lunches is delighted to announce Ben Starkey has joined our team as Head Chef.
To help you get to know Ben, here’s a breakdown of a Q&A session we ran with him.
Tell us about your background?
I’ve been a chef for 18 years and a Head Chef for the last nine years. As an apprentice, I worked in many kitchens including fine dining, pubs, cafes, boarding houses – you name it. I can cook just about anything!
I worked in the restaurant at Jacob’s Creek. We did a lot of big events, corporate events, weddings as well as running an a la carte restaurant. One day I could be cooking for two VIPs in a private dining room, the next I would be catering for 5000 guests at a corporate event. As a chef at Jacobs Creek I had to write a new menu every two months. It was a great chance to be creative using the best produce available. It really kept me on my toes.
As an apprentice, I worked at the boarding house for pilots at British Aerospace. The pilots came from diverse cultural backgrounds so I had to cater for special dietary requirements and cultural preferences.
Most recently, I’ve been Head Chef at a small hotel where we cater for lots of weddings and private parties.
What influences the way you cook?
I grew up eating foods from a diverse range of cultures, which has influenced my cooking. I started using chopsticks as a four year-old! I’ve travelled a lot in Asia and I like the freshness and the flavour of Asian food. I also enjoy cooking Mediterranean food.
I’m interested in seasonal produce and I like to incorporate fresh seasonal foods in my cooking. I grow my own veggies at home and I like spending time in the garden.
I like to support local business by sourcing the best South Australian produce rather than imports where it is possible.
What attracted you to the role at Rory’s?
The level of care taken to prepare food and the diversity of the role. Rory’s prepares food in small batches and sources quality local ingredients. There is a lot of focus on consistency, quality and healthy food that tastes good. That’s in line with how I think too.
What is your motto?
I will never send food out of the kitchen that I am not happy with.
What is your vision for Rory’s as Head Chef?
My first priority is to get to know the kitchen team and understand Rory’s processes. I’ll be keeping an eye on the market looking for seasonal produce I can add to the menu. I’d like to make sure there is lots of variety and that we cater for dietary requirements. For example, I’ll look at an existing sauce recipe and see if we can make it gluten free, without compromising flavour, so it can be enjoyed by more people.