Louis Tikaram, chef, Stanley Restaurant
I really focus on sourcing all of our produce from around the Brisbane region to help cut down the carbon footprint on our menu ...
We may be biased, but we think Queensland produce is some of the best around. Our proximity to the ocean and some phenomenal growing regions means top-notch ingredients are right out our fingertips, and while this is great for us home cooks, it’s even better for Brisbane’s chefs. Louis Tikaram, head chef of Stanley Restaurant, is one of the most skilled culinary talents working in Brisbane right now. His menu of Chinese and Cantonese eats makes great use of ingredients at their seasonal peak, elevating flavours to ambrosial levels. Louis will be hosting a cooking demonstration as part of Regional Flavours’ Grazed and Grown weekend, which is taking place at South Bank from June 18–20. We caught up with Louis ahead of his appearance to pick his brain on his go-to winter dish, favourite unheralded ingredients and Stanley’s approach to using produce sustainably and ethically.
It’s been almost a year and a half since Stanley opened its doors down at Howard Smith Wharves. Last year’s challenges aside, how do you feel the restaurant has found its footing and carved out its own identity in the local dining landscape?
The reason I love Stanley so much is not only because the menu has found its groove, that I have formed friendships with farmers from the community sourcing local produce, or have attracted loyal and grateful customers – it’s that when you walk through the front door you feel like you are immediately transported somewhere else. Seeing the breathtaking fit out is still a pinch-yourself moment every morning when I arrive and a completely unique experience for Brisbane foodies.
As Brisbane’s hospitality scene continues to grow and diversify, what are your thoughts on the calibre and current trajectory of dining in Brisbane?
Just in the short time I have lived in Brisbane I have seen the city’s food scene grow from strength to strength – so many new and exciting restaurants are opening that would rival the calibre of any great food city around the world. The best part seems to be that Brisbane doesn’t seem to be slowing down, so I think we have many more exciting years ahead of us!
Foodies can catch you at Grazed and Grown by Regional Flavours when you pop up at The Kitchen on Sunday June 21. Can you reveal anything about what you have planned for your appearance that weekend?
The main reason I love cooking in Brisbane so much is just how close we are to the amazing farms and local fresh seafood – the ingredients we use at the restaurant every day! I am going to focus on this during my time at Regional Flavours.
In addition to being a delicious showcase of local culinary endeavour, Regional Flavours is also geared towards educating locals on the importance of sustainable food practices. What philosophy do you employ at Stanley in regards to the sensible use of seasonal and local produce?
I really focus on sourcing all of our produce from around the Brisbane region to help cut down the carbon footprint on our menu. Not only is it more sustainable, everything just tastes so much better!
You’ve been fortunate enough to have worked at restaurants in some incredible food-loving cities – how would you say proximity to the produce-growing regions of Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales sets Brisbane apart from other places you’ve worked?
Working in Brisbane is a serious game changer for a chef – to have such amazing meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables being sourced all from literally under two hours from our doorstep isn’t just great for freshness and flavour, it’s also so inspiring for creating seasonal menus and dishes.
What are some unheralded ingredients that are coming into season that you think more people should include in their home cooking?
I love persimmons! You can use them in salads, desserts and they’re so amazing to just eat on their own. They are grown locally here in Brisbane and are just coming into season.
Similarly, with winter coming up, we’d love to know what your go-to warming dish is to cook at home during the cooler months?
Our favourite warming dish at home would have to be a nice low-and-slow roast – not only are they a family favourite, I love the oven warming the house with an amazing aroma on a cold day.