Chef Luke Sutherland – Bringing the Restaurant to the People

The “Butler and The Chef” – is an exciting, fine dining concept, in which, Chef, Luke Sutherland and his partner, Cameron Croad take the gourmet experience to a new level of client hospitality – all in the ease and comfort of your own home.

Even before lockdown took its toll on dining out, the idea of having your own “personal chef” to prepare a meal in your home kitchen was the ultimate in dining-in. Whether a special celebration, family event or simply having friends over for the evening, the concept ticks all the boxes! You choose a menu – to your specific taste and preferences – then relax and enjoy your meal as a full service, dining out experience. All in the privacy of your living room!

There are around 85,000 places for Australians to eat out, including 22,000 restaurants, according to Hospitality Magazine Survey, 2017. The outbreak of Covid-19 has resulted in many having to rethink and remodel their service offering in the short to medium term. For Co-Founder and Executive Chef of ‘The Butler and The Chef’ Perth WA, Luke Sutherland, the pandemic led to taking a decisive step…

Not only a reset, but a real change in hospitality

In our latest interview feature, we spoke remotely with Luke who immediately declared his passion for the hospitality industry and his concern over the future of the restaurant concept itself. “I feel that it is not only a reset, but a real change that will significantly impact our industry for many years ahead”.

As is so often found amongst the most dedicated of chefs, Luke’s passion was sparked from childhood. His love of food, and learning all about how to create a recipe from family and friends. At the age of 14, Luke instinctively knew his future path lay in seeing food not only as a creative art but also fundamental to human “comfort, nourishment and community”. From the moment he left school and entering his first kitchen, Luke knew he was “in the right place”.

Chef Luke Sutherland… bringing the restaurant to the people

Remembering the apricot and brie stuffed chicken breast

The formative phase in hospitality saw the young chef at McLaren Vale SA in the late 1990s, which he now views as an “awkward phase” in the world of cooking:

“Like fashion, we look back at the 90’s and reminisce about what we were thinking, and I do the same with food. Remembering the apricot and brie stuffed chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto with a mustard cream sauce, the chicken stacks with balsamic vinegar, and roast capsicum and baby spinach”.

Luke believes, however, that the industry has evolved to becoming “more mindful about flavours, textures, sustainability, and most importantly for the current generation, the appearance!”

Honour of going to the bush and utilising all the great native ingredients

Reaching the age of 30, Luke decided it was time to make a career move to the Kimberley region of WA where he saw an opportunity to further his knowledge and hone his skills, and was soon promoted to Executive Chef of Eco Beach Resort in Broome WA.

Luke recalls, “the honour of going to the bush, learning about the land, and utilising all the great native ingredients”. He and his team would create long table dinners on the sand while hanging whole barramundi over flames and creating boab tree desserts using native ingredients.

Finest of restaurant dining skills brought to the ordinary person’s home

Fast-forward to early 2020 and Covid-19, which brought Luke’s time as Head Chef at the Resort to an untimely end. It was actually after the lockdown restrictions were lifted to allow gatherings of only ten people that Luke knew what he had to do next. He and a long time close friend, seasoned restaurateur Cameron Croad, had always talked of going into business together. Realising the time was right, they looked at each other and said, “Let’s bring the restaurant to the people!” and ‘The Butler and The Chef’ concept was born.

Together, they would bring the finest of their restaurant dining skills and experience to the ordinary person’s home offering 4, 6 and 8 course set menus and “bespoke degustation” or “tasting menu” – sampling small portions of all of a chef’s signature dishes, or type of cuisine in one sitting.

High pressure environment of the traditional restaurant kitchen

Luke believes the personal chef service could very much be the future in bespoke dining experiences. Far away from the high pressure environment of the traditional restaurant kitchen. Luke feels that the most common cause of stress for chefs in a typical kitchen environment is the lack of a system and communication.

Educating the next generation of chefs in future sustainability

The conversation quickly turns to the importance of educating the next generation of chefs in the future sustainability of the hospitality sector. “The culinary identity of Australia is undergoing a radical transformation. We are just starting to see the fruits of locally sourced and sustainable eating, and soon this will include native and indigenous ingredients. I have seen many young chefs learning more about these practices, and developing a keener knowledge than I ever did back in the day”.

Luke is committed to drive the changes he describes by wanting to help educate and inform the next generation of chefs in the all-important areas of sustainability, right across the cheffing industry. From food sourcing and preparation to consumption.

Advice to younger chefs is to, “soak it up, learn… do the hard yards”

When asked what advice he would give to anyone who is considering a career in hospitality the veteran chef considers that the industry is tougher than it was when he was starting out. Luke thinks that this is due, ironically, to the “expectations that we have to be healthy, local, and sustainable, plus dietary requirements – and making sure your food is Insta worthy”. The pressure to perform, says Luke, has never been as great as it is today.

Ultimately, his advice to younger chefs is to, “soak it up, learn, stay positive, respect, do the hard yards, because you eventually look at a future generation of chefs and say, ‘remember what we were doing in the 2020s!”

Meanwhile, Luke and Cameron are busy building their ‘Butler and The Chef’ enterprise to ensure they continue to serve only the finest food and top class hospitality to their home dining clients.