2 minutes with Rick Osborne
19 Aug 2014
We are no strangers to a good degustation. So our well-trained taste buds know a great degustation when they have one. Recently on our whirlwind preview of the delicious events for the 65th annual Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, we were lucky enough to sample the upcoming menu for the Mayor’s Gala Dinner Under The Stars. Afterward we chatted to head chef Rick Osborne about regional produce, the carnival, and how important supporting Queensland farmers is to him. #thisisqueensland Describe what it is you do so well in a sentence, you’re allowed to be modest Being able to get people to work together in a team and to create great food! And to see potential in a business. Tell us a little about your food journey Originally born and raised in Toowoomba, I knew from a young age that I wanted to become a chef. I started off as an apprentice here in Toowoomba, but I ended moving to the Gold Coast where I was a 2nd year apprentice at Couran Cove Island Resort on Stradbroke Island. From there I was offered a job at the Surfers Paradise Marriot as a 3rd year apprentice, then I followed my Exec chef to the Brisbane Marriott as a 4th year and actually qualified there. At the age of 19, I was actually running the Marriott kitchen at least 4 nights a week. Once I became a chef, I knew I had to go overseas to see what the world had to offer. I ended up in Jasper, in the Canadian Rockies, working for the Fairmount Hotels for the summer season. Then I moved to Toronto to get more into the restaurant scene rather than just hotels. From there I moved to London, where I was very lucky to be offered a job at a restaurant called Le Gavroche. Michel Roux Jr is one of my idols and to be working alongside him was a dream come true. I gave 2 years of my life to Chef Albert and Michel Roux Jr and I am honored to have had the privilege of being able to work in a 2 Michelin star restaurant. (When my visa ran out!) I decided to head home to Australia. After my experience in London I was offered jobs at all the best restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, I ended up working with Shannon Bennett at Vue de Monde, in Melbourne. That was a great experience for me after doing very traditional French style food moving onto more the modern style of food. I then decided to leave the big cities and head back to Toowoomba and get into business for myself. Being a dutiful son I managed to get the family empire into the hospitality business. So I brought Kingfishers Café (I just sold kingfishers 4 months ago), then Preston Manor Function Centre, and finally Angel Café. I am currently in the process of setting up Preston Peak Winery Function Centre as one of my new projects. I am very proud of my achievements to date and I would not be where I am if it was not from the love and support of my family especially my Dad, Mark Osborne who in his own right is a great business man. Tell us what part you are taking in the upcoming Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers For the Carnival of flowers my team and I are doing the Mayor’s Dinner Under the Stars (and we are hoping for wonderful weather!) in Queens Park. It’s a five course degustation for 250 people. And then we are running a special 4 course for $50 degustation at The Angel Cafe, a special during Carnival period, which is a variation of the Queen’s Park Mayor’s Dinner. That way we might get a lot of people to share that particular experience. How important is Queensland produce to you? Local produce is very important to me. It helps me attract chefs to the region and people have no idea how much local produce is at their fingertips. I would rather try to support the farmer directly. Being local we are always guaranteed fresh produce and it cuts down the food miles it has to travel. We get a lot of our produce directly from farmers, markets and the like. For example, all of our lettuces and leaf greens are ordered in the afternoon (from a local farmer) and then harvested the next morning and delivered directly to us. Can’t get a lot fresher than that! What part of the carnival are you most looking forward to? I am looking forward to showcasing our region’s produce and wine at the Mayor’s dinner. It’s our job to make the Mayor and the whole of the Carnival of Flowers team look exceptionally good to all the people who are attending. That’s what we hope to achieve. What is your proudest achievement to date? My proudest achievement is working at Le Gavroche alongside Michel Roux. Also being able to own, run, and build my own businesses, be my own boss, and to put together a very talented team of chefs. Where can we get our mitts on a little piece of you? I base myself at The Angel Café on South Street in Toowoomba and on weekends I will be at one of the function venues. Why is it important to get more Queensland produce into us? So we can support the local farmers who need to get a fair price for their produce. If we want to keep having these wonderful fresh offerings, then we need to support those who are actually growing if for us. Which Australian producers, suppliers or thinkers are inspiring you at the moment? Regional food network here in Queensland is doing a great job in trying to get restaurants and wholesalers to buy direct from the farm. Where/what was the last great meal you enjoyed? I would have to say Sepia in Sydney. I was there for one of my best friend’s wedding night and the food and service was some of the best that I have seen in Australia. Toowoomba’s best kept secret? Preston Peak Winery Function Center. It will be open shortly with its own edible gardens that will supply the function center, and the rest of the produce will be sourced from 100km radius. This winery will really showcase what regional Queensland has to offer as a destination venue. The Mayor’s Gala Dinner Under The Stars will be held on September 18 in glorious Queens Park, Toowoomba. If you can’t make it, you can visit Rick at The Angel Café on South Street.