We were once told that if our Executive Chef was just an alcoholic, then we had a keeper. Most have gambling habits, drug addictions, sex addictions, personal problems and anger issues. They have no impulse control and reliably say yes to every bad idea. They live from pay day to pay day. You see, there’s a difference between hotel chefs and restaurant chefs. The former, we now know, like clipboards, standard hours and career progression, while the latter are loose, unruly, messy and incredibly talented. We’ve always hired restaurant chefs – at a cost – but it’s worth every warning letter because they can cook.
Our current Executive Chef, Alasdair Nicolson, is far from the stereotype. He has no vices – as far as we can tell – and if he drifted towards something criminal or even mildly anti-social, his gorgeous wife would beat him to a pulp. Guaranteed. Most of the chefs we’ve known over the years couldn’t write down a recipe, even if you asked them nicely. When someone asked us for the ingredients in a curry paste after a cooking demonstration a few years ago, we didn’t even ask the chef, we just copied something straight out of a cookbook on the shelf and hoped they didn’t have that book at home. But, except for our guest chefs’ contributions, every single recipe in our Lord Howe Island Cookbook was written by Al. That’s about 50,000 words of serious dedication.
Alasdair grew up on the Isle of Skye and, like so many of his compatriots, made his way to Sydney where he worked as Sous Chef, then Head Chef, at the iconic One Hat restaurant, The Grand National, in Paddington. He moved to Lord Howe in 2013, loves the fishing and is here to stay. Al’s food, as you’ll discover if you visit, is the real deal. Supporting him in the kitchen are Dennis Tierney (aka The Stranded Chef), Lara Bisoni, Sam Benson, Mike Humble, Mitja Kalitzki and Alexis Yoli. We’re very proud of them (and they’re all clean, healthy, organised and talented!).