Last month, I had the pleasure of a lunch at Palings Kitchen & Bar with Rhys Badcock, Masterchef Professionals Winner, hosted by Kimberley Quest’s Manager, Alice Ralston and her partner Captain, Josh Bairstow.
Kimberley Quest II is a 25 metre custom-built vessel designed for exploring the Kimberley coastline. A maximum of 18 guests can enjoy indoor and outdoor alfresco areas, a refreshing dip in the spa and gourmet cuisine prepared by on-board chef, Rhys Badcock.
Rhys has been Chef for the 18 passenger custom-built cruiser for multiple seasons. In this interview, I chat with Rhys about life after Masterchef, Marco Pierre White and life on board the small luxury cruiser.
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Corinne: Tell me a little about yourself, where you were born and where you grew up.
Rhys: I was born in Caloundra on the Sunshine coast and moved Kalbarri in WA, a little cray fishing town, where I lived till I was about 13 and then moved to Byron. I completed high school in Byron Bay and then moved to Margaret River where I was lucky enough to be apprenticed to Tony Howell, Head Chef at Cape Lodge.
When I finished apprenticeship I travelled around Oz, working NQ, Brisbane.
Then back to Cape Lodge as Sous Chef five years ago, and then on board KQ.
You joined the Kimberley Quest crew as a chef in 2007. What inspired you to work on a passenger cruiser?
Just the freedom pretty much, I wanted to explore the last untouched area of Oz, massive appeal to me. Plus of course fishing..Kalbarri was starting point of love of fishing. My stepdad owned a crayboat there, and in school holidays we used to go out and work as deck hands.
What’s a typical day for you while on board the Kimberley Quest?
Up at sparrow fart, usually around 5am, cook breakfast, go for a fish or a walk or a swim – then make lunch I try to get off the boat every day. Otherwise you lose your land legs. And you might as well enjoy the spectacular. The bonus thing about the boat is you can prep beforehand as you are setting all the menus yourself.
The best is actually catching a fish and then cooking it for your passengers, they just love that Then off to bed, waking up in a different spot every day. It just doesn’t get old, something new to look at every day. Always changing
What are some of the challenges of cooking on a boat?
Ordering, everything has to come from Perth and ordered five or six days in advance. If product isn’t up to scratch, well, more fishing for me. And when there is an odd patch of rough weather, very hard to keep things immobile in kitchen. I’m pretty adept at that now, this is my third season on Kimberley Quest.
Where do you get your inspiration to cook while on board the Kimberley Quest?
Jeez. It’s just exciting making food every day and the appreciation the passengers give you. Their responses are terrific.
As the first Masterchef Professionals Winner, has the experience changed you and your outlook on the profession in any way?
I don’t think it’s changed me one bit at all, I’m still myself, back at work. It has definitely opened up more opportunities
What was it like working with Marco Pierre White? Is there a special story or a memorable experience that you can share with us?
The whole thing was absolutely memorable. Watching the way Marco conducts himself is amazing to watch. He is always supportive, always there for you. Everybody felt that.
Tony Howell at Cape Lodge was always supportive. And then working with Marco just extended my appreciation and understanding of chefs with that nurturing ability. Marco is really awesome.
What has been a major highlight in your career so far?
Being on MasterChef. Just being involved in the production, how the whole thing worked. Just working with and helping people – particularly watching apprentices learn and grow is incredible.
Where would we find you when you’re not cooking on the Kimberley Quest?
Out surfing or fishing. So you probably won’t be able to find me.
Rhys Badcock in Sydney, at Palings Kitchen & Bar
In July 2013, Kimberley Quest is running an 8 day “Cruise, Fish & Taste Expedition” with Rhys Badcock and Nathan Brindle, Masterchef Professional Finalist on board. The cruise will include hands-on cooking classes working with seafood caught whilst on fishing adventures via tender and includes huge barramundi, mud crabs and oysters. More information in the website below.
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