Catching Up With Neil Perry

By Jacqui Thompson
26th Aug 2013

Kylie Kwong (Billy Kwong), Mike McEnearney (Kitchen By Mike) and Ross Lusted (The Bridge Room) will all be returning to Rockpool's famous galley for one night only—to farewell Neil Perry's iconic George Street home.

For those of you lucky enough to have enjoyed a Rockpool fine dining experience, feelings of nostalgia, will I am sure, surface at the thought of this relocation. After 24-and-a-half years on George Street, the move is certainly an emotional one for Neil Perry. 

In honour of this hospitality legacy, Neil and Trish Richards have organised Rockpool's All Star Dinners with some of its former culinary stars. On the 3rd, 10th and 17th of September, Kylie, Mike and Ross will consecutively take over Rockpool's kitchen. Tickets are available for each Rockpool All Star Dinner and will comprise five-course menus based upon the dishes created by Kylie, Mike and Ross during their time at Rockpool.

We caught up with Neil to find out more about the big move, what we can look forward to from the All Star Dinners, and what he likes to cook at home.

TUL: After 24 iconic years in Rockpool's original home—how does this move feel? Positive and nostalgic at the same time I can imagine...

Neil Perry: A combination of sadness and happiness. It's going to be hard to turn the lights out on George Street, but we are so excited about the new space. It is going to be an exquisite restaurant.

TUL: Your kitchen has truly been the training ground for some of Australia's greatest chefs—is furthering Australia's cuisine culture a conscious goal of yours?

Neil: Yes, nurturing staff is an important part of what we do, for so many reasons. The quality of your staff ultimately depicts the quality of your guest's experience, rigorous training goes into each and every employee to ensure the guest experience is at the highest possible level. 

The industry has come leaps and bounds in terms of hospitality being considered a legitimate career, also aided by consumers' increasing appetite for out of home dining experiences.

TUL:  Can you tell us the dishes you are most looking forward to reliving from Kylie, Mike and Ross?

Neil: Kylie, Mike and Ross are still working away on their menus for each night. I am really excited to see what they come up with.

TUL: How will it feel to have your former chefs back in the Rockpool kitchen?

Neil: I anticipate it will feel something akin to Christmas when family returns home to celebrate together.

TUL: Can you tell us what we can expect from Rockpool's new Bridge Street location? Any highlights for you in the new location's design by Grant Cheyne Architects?

Neil: The two words that best define the inspiration for the new space are sophisticated, elegance. The specifics in terms of the design are still under wraps.

TUL: Will the menu also be receiving a revamp?

Neil: The dinner menu will largely be staying the same. However, we are entering into a daily lunch service. Head Chef Phil Wood and his team are currently fine-tuning this.

TUL: Has there been a food experience that impressed you unexpectedly?

Neil: I am really enjoying Tsukemen noodle bowls at the moment.

TUL: For a comfy night in, what is your ideal home-cooked meal?

Neil: Mexican. Delicious and a great one for getting the kids involved.

Rockpool's All Star Dinners

Tickets for each dinner are $150 per person or $230 per person including matching wines by Sommerlier Emma Plumridge. For bookings head to the Rockpool website or call 02 9252 1888.

Tuesday the 3rd of September – Kylie Kwong

Tuesday the 10th of September – Mike McEnearney

Tuesday the 17th of September – Ross Lusted


Address: 107 George Street?The Rocks, NSW 2000?Australia

Ph: 02 9252 1888

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