Beyond the Menu: Louis Tikaram talks festive feasting at Stanley and his plans for Christmas Day

Beyond the Menu: Louis Tikaram talks festive feasting at Stanley and his plans for Christmas Day

Ask Louis Tikaram about his ideal Christmas lunch spread would be and he’ll say there’s nothing better than a tray of fresh mangoes and a procession of killer waves to surf. At Stanley, however, it’s different. In the lead-up to Christmas the talented chef is cooking up a cracker of a festive feast, with three kinds of banquets boasting loads of Cantonese delights to devour. As the year winds down, we caught up with Louis to talk about how 2023 has treated the Howard Smith Wharves stand-out, his favourite summer produce, highlights of his current menu, which restaurants he’s loving right now and what he’ll really be cooking on Christmas Day.

It’s been a big year for Brisbane’s food scene! How has 2023 treated Stanley?
Really amazing! I feel like Brisbane’s food scene is growing stronger every minute. National recognition has catapulted some of the great restaurants into the limelight and given so much well-deserved recognition to the great chefs and industry superstars in Brisbane. It has helped to create such an amazing vibe in Brisbane, which has kept Stanley evolving – and busy, thanks to our loyal customers!

How would you say you’ve grown as a chef this year, be it technically or creatively?
As a chef you’re always evolving and growing. It’s an amazing feeling to be constantly learning and then very proud to see customers enjoying your new creations. I feel like most of my growth is in becoming the best leader I can be and inspiring young chefs to learn and reach for the stars. I was lucky enough to have great mentors throughout my career, so I feel it’s up to me to nurture and develop the next generation.

It has been four years since Stanley first opened at Howard Smith Wharves – what do you think is the secret to running a successful kitchen?
It’s all about consistency and making the customers feel special and appreciated. I feel that customers love to come back to their favourite restaurant, order their favourite dish and a bottle of wine and just relax. There is nothing more I love to see then familiar faces of repeat guests and regular customers in the dining room. There are so many restaurants to choose from these days, so this is the greatest compliment I could ever receive.

We heard you’ve recently added some new dishes to Stanley’s a la carte menu! Was there any idea, guiding theme, or creative urge that informed these new dishes?
Local produce! Discovering more and more local produce and meeting local fisherman and farmers is so inspiring when designing new dishes.

If we were coming in to dine at Stanley and left the curation of our meal entirely in your hands, what would you send our way?
The best of the best is our ‘Stanley Experience’ banquet. It showcases all of Stanley’s signature dishes – our steamed dim sum, Moreton Bay bug spring roll, Peking duck, coral trout, Stockyard beef and local Asian greens! It always hits the spot and is well balanced.

The silly season is approaching! What is Christmas Day like in the Tikaram household? Do you love whipping up a festive spread? If so, what would we likely see on the table at your Christmas Day lunch?
I grew up in Mullumbimby in a surfing household, so Christmas Day consisted of enjoying a tray of mangoes on the beach as we surfed the day away. Now, with my two daughters, things are a little different – we still head back down to Mullumbimby on the farm where I grew up with my parents and put on a spread for them. I keep it on the lighter side so we can still surf before and after lunch – so there’s lots of seafood, prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, and the main attraction is always a whole coral trout cooked on the barbecue. If I’m feeling extra festive, I will make a trifle to wash it all down!

On a similar note, what ingredients or produce are coming into their seasonal peak that you think are a must for summer cooking?
Exotic fruits are a must on my summer special menus! Lychee, rambutans, cherries, mangoes are all spectacular.

What local spots are you loving right now for:
a) A cheap and cheerful feed? I love a quick snack at 1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle in Westfield Mount Gravatt before taking my daughters to Time Zone.
b) A celebratory feast? Short Grain by Martin Boetz is always a great place to celebrate – it’s light, bright and fun.
c) Innovative eats? Exhibition is always mind-blowing, from the hand-selected produce to the perfectly executed cooking.
d) A good drink? Bar Francine. Post up in the window with a bottle of pet nat and watch the world go by.
e) Top-notch produce? OTTO – chef Will Cowper only uses the best of the best, so when you dine at OTTO it’s always top notch.

Call us crazy, but we are already looking forward to the year ahead! What does 2024 hold in store for Stanley?
We turned four in November – I know, time flies! It’s so crazy. Though we always must keep pushing and improve every year, I feel we have one of the most amazing locations in Brisbane, so 2024 will be focusing on activating our outdoor areas for our guests to appreciate the view with some cool and fun snacks, and some exciting new drink options. I can’t give too much away, though – watch this space!

Looking to cram in one more Friendsmas feast in the lead up to Christmas? Stanley’s festive banquet menus are available now (starting from $88 per person) and feature the likes of Stanley’s steamed dim sum platter, steamed coral trout with ginger, shallot and white soy, and local baby pineapple with vanilla gelato, lime sago and tropical ice. Head to the Stanley website now to make a booking!

The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.


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