Peter Doyle, the legendary chef behind Merivale’s two-hatted fine-dining institution, est., is retiring from the kitchen this June. To celebrate his career, est. will launch ‘Peter Doyle’s Best. Years’ menu from 30 April, featuring his most iconic dishes. Widely regarded as a founding father of contemporary Australian cuisine, Doyle will lead Merivale’s new internal chef apprenticeship school launching in 2019.
Peter Doyle officially began his culinary career in 1974 when he graduated TAFE as ‘Apprentice of the Year’. Just ten years later, he went on to become one of the first ‘hatted’ chefs, when his debut restaurant, Reflections at Palm Beach, was lauded for its refined take on French nouvelle cuisine. His revered restaurants – Le Trianon, Cicada and Celsius – followed.
In 2003, Doyle opened est., Merivale’s flagship fine-dining restaurant on the first level of The Establishment. Since then, he’s earned an outstanding reputation as one of Australia’s most influential chefs, with a host of accolades to his name, including American Express Restaurant Awards Hall of Fame three years running, 2006 Sydney Morning Herald Restaurant of the Year and the Professional Excellence Award at the 2011 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards for training, inspiring and nurturing staff – reflecting his passion for harmony and balance in the kitchen and on the plate.
Often referred to as a ‘home grown legend’ and ‘an inspiration to the industry’, Doyle’s trademark is contemporary Australian food – uncluttered, seasonally driven and executed with French-influenced precision. Margaret Fulton once described him as not only cooking “with his fingertips and hands but with all his senses – smell, taste – it’s as if he was an artist with a sensitive palate”.
To pay tribute to Doyle’s contribution to Australian dining, est. is introducing the ‘Peter Doyle’s Best. Years’ menu allowing guests to experience the dishes that have defined his impressive 46-year career and enjoy his exceptional food one last time. The menu, which will be served from 30 April – 2 June, will feature iconic dishes like ‘pan fried john dory fillet, grilled scallop, spinach, carrot juice – sauternes emulsion’ or ‘juniper crusted venison saddle, beetroot, boudin noir, chestnuts, cocoa paper’. The Best Years menu will also feature a wine list matched to the decades of Doyle’s years in restaurants. Reservations can be made from www.merivale.com or by calling 02 9240 3000.
Doyle’s kitchen has long been considered the premier training ground for young hospitality talent, with the likes of Karl Firla, Adam Wolfers, Jordan Toft and Josh Niland all earning their stripes under his leadership. It is rather fitting then that the next chapter of his illustrious career will see him focus entirely on mentoring the next generation of culinary stars.
Once he hangs up his chef’s hat in June, Peter will formalise his teaching in readiness for his new role leading Merivale’s apprenticeship programme, including studying his Certificate in Training and Assessment. He will work closely with Merivale’s long-term partner and registered training organisation, Allara Learning, to build course content that is consistent with the requirements of completing an apprenticeship.
The innovative and forward-thinking programme will also see Merivale engage esteemed subject matter experts on specialised topics and focus on achieving competency completion to fast-track talent into the workforce. It will officially launch in January 2019, with up to forty apprentice chefs joining the ranks. Further details around the programme will be announced later this year.
“I’ve been teaching people ever since I started, for the last 40 years, so this really did feel like the right evolution. I don’t want to step away completely”, says Doyle. “This is going to be face-to-face and hands on, I’m really excited to get in front of a class and teach these kids the skills that have now become so instinctual”.
“You always want the people you’re teaching to be better than you are by the time that they’ve grown in their capacity. You want the world to be a better place, so you want them to be. It’s progress, and it’s really satisfying”.
est.’s Head Chef Jacob Davey, who has worked closely alongside Doyle for the past three years, will take over the reins in June, with a new menu set to be introduced in July.