Rodney Carroll is Head Chef at Pandora’s Restaurant at Rouse Hill, offering up a fusion of modern Australian food with contemporary Italian flavours. The ingredients are seasonal to make sure the food tastes and looks at its best, and the presentation is modern, chic and inviting.

Each item on the menu has been thoroughly taste tested and modified to bring out the best flavour combination possible, and while the menu is extensive and chef driven, there are a lot of cross over ingredients throughout which helps to manage the food preparation process.

Go West Gourmet caught up with Rod, to ask about his experience and food influences…

Rodney Carroll in Pandora’s Restaurant kitchenTELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AS A CHEF?
My first job was in a delicatessen, where I experienced many new foods. I would help the chef prepare meals and also do offsite catering. I then studied at the Hotel School, and completed my apprenticeship at the Hotel Intercontinental Sydney, which gave me a world of knowledge and inspiration from chefs of many different backgrounds and cultures. I was able to work in the 9 different kitchens at the hotel, offering a wide scope of learning opportunities. From there I moved my way through a few more hotels and restaurants for over 10 years, to then find myself working as Head Chef with the team at
Pandora’s Restaurant since its inception.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO BECOME A CHEF?
I have always been interested in food and cooking, even from an early age. This probably stems from my upbringing and my families love for entertaining.

with honeyed ricotta and goats cheese, wrapped in pancettaWHAT DO YOU LOVE BEST ABOUT YOUR ROLE AS HEAD CHEF AT PANDORA’S?
I love that I get to show the local clientele my passion for food and individual flair. It’s great to start the day with fresh raw produce, then create and mix flavours to present meals that really excite people. It also makes the days so worthwhile when we receive great feedback from customers, and see the smiles on their faces.

 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST AND/OR WORST MOMENT IN THE KITCHEN?
There are always great days; however one that comes to mind is a bit of a best/worst case scenario. Early in my career I received a call at roughly 2am from the Duty Manager that our fridge had broken down overnight – on a day when we had multiple functions! So I called our suppliers and they were able to bring all the items in that we needed that day very early. That day there was only me and one other chef working in our department, so we got stuck into it. By the end of the day we had served meals to over 1000 people, and received fantastic feedback. That then was a moment of accomplishment and relief.

WHAT FOOD/INGREDIENT DO YOU MOST LIKE TO WORK WITH & WHY?
There are so many items to choose from, however in Australia and our local communities our farmers are producing top quality products. So I would have to say that it depends on the time of year, and whatever is in season and at its peak at that time. Recently on our menu we have had zucchini flowers, mangoes and figs that have all been top quality and great to work with.

marinated in red wine, garlic and herbs, served with duck fat potatoes, ratatouille, green beans and shiraz jusWHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ON THE PANDORA’S MENU RIGHT NOW & WHY?
My favourite would have to be the ‘ Herb and Garlic Marinated Lamb Rump, with Duck Fat Potatoes, Ratatouille, Green Beans and Shiraz Jus’. All the flavours work so we’ll together, and is fabulous with a nice glass of red.

WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL FOOD OBSESSION?
I always have a weakness for lamb. It’s the first thing I’ll look for on a menu, and usually the one I’ll always order.

WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR ASPIRATIONAL CHEFS?
Don’t listen to your mother – yes you can play with your food! By this I mean try different combinations, get experience with new flavours and see for what works well together. Also take advice from as many people as possible, keep notes, and help out as much as possible, even it means extra hours – the best way to learn is by spending more time in your environment.

WHAT FOOD TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN WESTERN SYDNEY?
I’m seeing a modernisation of food – from all types of cuisine. Most places you go, the diner is wowed by what is put in front of them. This being achieved through height, colour and shape of the food, and also plate selection.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN NOT IN THE KITCHEN?
When I’m not at work, I’ll be catching up with friends and spending my time with my kids and family.