Chef Interviews

Paul Macnish

7 July, 2012
paul macnish Cropped


Position: Executive Chef/Co-owner
Where: Mortar & Pestle Fine Foods

How did you decide on the career of being a chef?
I was working front of house and decided to do a restaurant management course which entailed a cooking component. Once I was in the kitchen that was all she wrote, I knew straight away I was home.

What’s the one cooking tip you wish someone had told you sooner?
Surprisingly my tip comes from Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s rule 2 in his list of 5 rules to success… And it is “break the rules” just to clarify that is break the rules not the laws.

What do you never fail to order if it’s on the menu?
Entrée – pate or steak tartare. Main – duck confit or pork belly. Dessert – crème brûlée.

Do you have a favourite breakfast?
I will have to answer this in a three pronged response…
1. If I had a last meal, death row style, then it would be a slap up full cooked English brekky with black pudding, fried bread and all the trimmings.
2. Favourite when not on death row would be eggs benedict.
3. The brekky I order 90% of the time when I’m out is one slice of multigrain toast, bacon and two poached eggs.

What did you have for dinner on your last day off?
I had a great night off with a few mates round my place! We had sashimi for entrée then tortillas with beer spiced chilli pork, jalapeno basil and cucumber salsa with Dave & Fi’s amazing chilli sauce and several bottles of red followed by white chocolate and peanut butter tart. I really do love to cook.

What’s your favourite place in Perth to eat out and why?
Once again I will have to go for a three-pronged answer…
1. In Contro because Pete’s food is seriously good and Anna who runs front of house is a true professional and they are both great people.
2. Golden century for dim sum, but really any where that my dim sum crew are located as it’s the people that make dim sum (squid is also very important).
3. Jacksons. This is a huge call as I haven’t been there in 4 years but I have had my best dining experiences in WA there so it has to get a mention.

The best thing about the Perth food scene?
It’s that we finally have one and there are so many talented chefs now staying here and opening very cool places. It’s still young but if we support change and the people willing to experiment then the future looks great. Don’t go hating, it doesn’t do anyone any good.

The worst?
Too many restaurants are closed on a Monday. This is no good if you’re a chef, but also the reason we generally have the night off. But to be a world-class city, top class restaurants can’t all close on the same night as that is just ludicrous.

Where do you recommend for fresh produce?
If you don’t mind spending a dollar or two then Herdsman Fresh in Wembley have great produce (thanks to Benno). For the best and harder to get items the Boatshed in Cottesloe is superb. But you can’t go past any local supplier that is selling farmer direct produce – Longs at the Freo markets is one of many doing just that. Ask your local veggie man or woman where they get their produce, it makes all the difference.

Give us one “egg” related tip?}
1.To hard boil eggs, place them in a pan of cold water and bring to boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let stand for 20 minutes, and then rinse with cold water.
2. To get double the volume of meringue, add one teaspoon of cold water for each egg white before beating.

Do you have a tip for customers to improve their dining experience?
Always go somewhere wanting it to be good and don’t think negatively before you even begin or it will never be good. Don’t go somewhere that has a good chef then change his or hers well balanced dish, because we put dishes together for a reason.

Tell us about your recipe?
I created this recipe especially in honour of the launch of this great site dedicated to the most underrated meal, and from the most underrated meal I always find the beans the most underwhelming of the underrated… so I have left places no excuse not to have delicious beans.

Breakfast Confidential Beans

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Graeme 8 July, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Great interview. Go the under dog! Breakfast rules!

  • Reply Traingirl21 3 September, 2012 at 7:58 am

    fabbo interview, I love the three pronged answers and now I have a hankering for dim sum!!

    • Reply Liz 3 September, 2012 at 8:00 am

      Thanks! Paul is fantastic.

      I LOVE Dim Sum…. I always go to New Moon Cafe on James St. They serve dim sum day and night on weekends!

    Leave a Reply