News & Media
AWARDS ABROAD - THE STARS SHINE ON "THE CHEF"
Big celebrations North and South of the equator with the announcement last week that Osia, the much awarded "cousin" to Carrington Place Bar & Restaurant, had been announced as the recipient of a Michelin Star, the most widely recognised and valued culinary benchmark!
Many of the patrons who enjoy the fine fare and excellent service at Carrington Place may not be aware that when owner Scott Webster is sometimes absent, he is overseeing operations at Osia, located in the Sentosa Resorts World complex in Singapore. Opened in 2010, Osia Singapore is the "rebirth" of the highly acclaimed London restaurant of the same name, owned and operated by Scott.
Congratulations to Scott and all of the Singapore team on this very special achievement.
Love for food keeps chef busy
By PENELOPE GREEN
Nov. 23, 2015, 9:30 p.m. Newcastle Herald
Scott Webster, owner of Throsby Street Providore in Wickham. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
Where did you grow up and what is your first memory of food?
I am a Newcastle lad through and through. My first memories of cooking are my mum’s roast dinners at home after school on Mondays but I got the first taste of cooking myself from enrolling in the home science classes with all the girls at Lambton High in 1974.
When did you know the kitchen would be your office?
I started washing dishes at the old Squids Ink Motel at Belmont the same year and had so much fun I couldn’t get enough of the action, the adrenalin or the fun I was having.
Where did you train and who was a key mentor?
I started my first year as an apprentice chef training at the original Fanny’s Nightclub and Restaurant and Lloyds of Bar Beach.
Chef Geoff Sawyer was a huge influence in my very early days. I then transferred to the Royal Sydney Golf Club for the final three years and must pay a lot of credit to the club’s executive chef Barry Wright.
You’ve worked at London’s Savoy Hotel and Switzerland’s Grand Hotel. How different is cheffing in a hotel setting versus a restaurant?
Working within hotels is much more structured with much bigger culinary brigades and many facets of cuisine from banqueting, room service, coffee shops, staff dining and gourmet restaurants. You can learn from many different styles and many different chefs.
We hear you’ve cooked for Michael Jackson and Liz Taylor. Were they dining together, and can you share some dining gossip?
I was fortunate enough to spend a few years working for two private caterers in Los Angeles in the 1980s and both companies had many clients of Hollywood’s elite. I spent time in both Michael and Liz’s home kitchens preparing meals for them and their guests. One of the most memorable dinner parties, however, was in the home of Barbara Walters and husband Merv Adelson of Capitol Records fame. It was Merv’s birthday and the small guest list included Walter Matthau, Kirk Douglas, Sydney Poitier and Larry Hagman, and their respective wives, and Burt Bacharach and Carol Bayer Sager.
What was your vision in setting up Osia Bar and Restaurant in Singapore with your chef mate Otto Weibel?
I had owned and operated the very successful venture Osia Bar and Grill in London from 2003 until 2006. At the time I opened the London restaurant we made the finals of the ITV Food Awards for best new restaurant and best service in London. When I was approached by Resorts World Sentosa to open a place in Singapore, I jumped at the chance to open another reincarnation of Osia. The current success of this outlet would not be possible without Otto’s help because he is a very well-respected chef in Asia and is on the ground in Singapore. It is harder for me when it is a seven-hour flight. Osia Singapore is a three-star restaurant with many accolades.
What sort of consultancy work do you and Otto do, and where?
For many years I operated a consultancy company promoting Australian food for export through my cuisine, doing events on a global scale for Austrade, Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Horticulture, and the many state and regional development arms nationally. Our company in Singapore assists new hotels, airlines and restaurants to establish brands and standard operating procedures so they, too, can own and run successful food and beverage businesses.
I now own and operate a very successful export business, Prestige Foods International in Melbourne, with three other partners. We also run a manufacturing plant which produces a wide range of stocks and sauces for the global food service and retail trades.
Your establishment Carrington Place has got a reputation for sophisticated pub fare. What were your goals when you opened and why open in Carrington?
When I first returned from London in 2006, it was my aim to open my own place in an area of Newcastle that did not have a food focus like Darby or Beaumont streets.
I was lucky enough to find a derelict building in Carrington, right next door to the place that had once been a culinary institution, Carrington House, operated by well-known restaurateurs Paul Garmon and Barry Mieklejohn some 15 years before. It seemed only natural to do a similar style of finer dining in an old pub atmosphere. The goal was to fire up Carrington’s food scene again and I like to think I have achieved that goal.
You’ve just opened Throsby Street Providore in Wickham. What inspired you to try such a broad European business concept, with a little bit of everything?
Clientele is much more educated today because of TV food programming and the art of the “celebrity chef”. Many of the world’s great cities and indeed many of our own capital cities have great food emporiums today where high-end items can be purchased that were once exclusive to a fine restaurant. The timing was right and only time and extremely hard work will tell if it was a good idea for Newcastle.
Hospitality is a high-pressure business and the public scrutiny of food and chefs is intense. How do you stomach it?
I love what I do – simple as that. I was taught many moons ago that you can’t please the minority, concentrate on the majority.
How big a role do restaurants play in a city’s revitalisation and how is Newcastle travelling?
Newcastle has a much more vibrant food culture and cafe culture than when I left in 1978.
We have some great chefs working on the frontline as well as those who don’t get recognised working the clubs, pubs and cafes.
My biggest disappointment is that when you talk food outside the Sydney metropolitan area, the Hunter Valley gets all the credit for great food and wine, which it should, but Newcastle is not far behind and I think that more than six restaurants in our city rate higher than the established food critics give us credit for.