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 Q&A Hamish Ingham
Owner Bar H, Restaurant Executive Chef, The Woods , Four Seasons, Sydney

Hamish Ingham  is the creative mind behind  the new The Woods restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney.  Hamish is Fresh from achieving his first Chef's Hat accolade in the prestigious 2013 Good Food Guide for his funky Surry Hills restaurant, Bar H, In addition to running Bar H, Ingham's culinary talents now stretch across developing the food menu for the Hotel's new bar, Grain, The Woods and the Hotel's In-Room Dining menu. Aptly named The Woods, the restaurant has a spectacular centrally placed wood-fired oven where Hamish will use naturally flavoured Australian varietal woods in the oven to enhance his signature grilled dishes.

From a family of inspirational cooks, Hamish spent time freelancing at some of Sydney's top dining venues including Sean's Panorama and The Bellevue Hotel.  He also hosted cooking classes at Simon Johnson and Accoutrement. In 2000, he joined joined the start-up team in the widely acclaimed Billy Kwong restaurant in Surry Hills -working directly for its famous modern China-Oz cuisine owner and Chef, Kylie Kwong. There he honed his modern Chinese cooking skills whilst also meeting his wife and Bar H partner, Rebecca Lines. Together, the duo is making their first foray into luxury hotel dining with Rebecca as Consulting Restaurant Manager for The Woods.

How is creating a menu for an hotel restaurant different from creating something for stand alone restaurant like bar H
I believe they're both the same but with different identities. I never want to compromise the quality of food I produce, It's my life & my dream. I guess the difference is the size of the place, you have to be able to do what you do without compromise but have a broad market understand it.
 
Through Minor International PLC you deal with a number of major international brands what inspired you to create you own luxury boutique brand?
On a very simple level Passion but on business level I knew how powerful a boutique brand could be. H is for Hamish but it's stands for many more things including humanity. It was important to us to be able to give back as we grew.
What is the single best/defining thing about your cooking style?
My respect for produce, for me cooking is about finding the best produce I can and cooking it without feeling the need to over complicate a dish, it's all about keeping its integrity. Simplicity is incredibly hard to master and it takes confidence to do, so the most defining thing about my cooking is my ability to be able produce dishes that look simple but are perfectly balanced, not every chef can do that.
Hamish Ingham and Rebecca Lines
 
You worked with some of the best in the business including Kylie Kwong. Which chefs have been your major influences and inspirations?
There have been so many, the biggest one would have to be Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, I love her philosophy it is so well balanced from what she puts on the plate to recycling, every thing goes a full circle. She is a huge inspiration to me and the way I cook. In Australia I would have to say Neil Perry as he has done so much for Australian food, his ability to be so good at Asian and also western cuisine I admire, there are few who can do it
What is the next big food trend?
I would have to say cooking with different types of wood to create flavour profile in a dish, it is emerging as a huge trend among chefs. I'm lucky enough to be one of the first to do it!
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a restaurant is worth eating in?
I always check out the produce the restaurant is using, are they using sustainable seafood, organic vegetables, is the produce local to the area? I'll know just by looking at the dish whether they are using quality produce. I believe all these factors when combined together with a passionate chef and restaurateur is what makes a great restaurant.
Apart from your own, what are your favourite restaurants ? (and why)
Fishface in Darlinghurst Steve hodges in the king of cooking fish I just love it there.
Cafe Zuni in San Francisco Judy Rogers food is simple but has all the elements that I love about food, simple, good produce, great service and a cracking wine list.
Obviously China is your inspiration. Where in China would you most like to go next?
Zhongdian in Yunnan it's one of the most beautiful place on earth
As a foodie what is your favourite city to visit?
I have not been but I think Tokyo will be my next foodie destination.
What is your best overseas travel experience?
I would have to say living and working in New York for 2 months it blew me away
Who would you most like to sit next to on a plane?
Patti Smith, Her music rocks!!
What three things do you never travel without?
My music player, Ray ban sunglasses and my family.

What is the one travel experience you will never forget?
When I was 21 arriving at 3am in New Deli India, by myself with no accommodation booked & no plans, it was the most interesting place I have ever been to, such a culture shock! So colour full, the different smells in the air it was absolutely incredible I will never forget it.
What is the most important thing (travelwise) that money CAN buy?
A great nanny to take with you to help look after the children!
What is the most important thing it can't?
The personal experience's you have while traveling, the people you meet, the food you try, the smells, the new culture, money can't buy experience.
Luxury Links:  www.barhsurryhills.com/
Posted 12/12/12
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