Just 14 years old, Dylan Carter has already appeared on MasterChef, volunteered at 11 restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, and run a ‘‘pop-up’’ restaurant for a day.
Now, the Bulli High School student has been sponsored by the Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG) to run a one-day pop-up restaurant at Studio Neon in Waterloo early next year.
AGFG resident chef Shawn Sheather says he was so impressed with Dylan’s passion and potential, the AGFG created a junior development program and signed him up.
When the year 9 student invited the AGFG to his first pop-up restaurant seven months ago at his aunty’s beach house in Wombarra, it was pleasantly surprised.
‘‘The style of food he’s doing, it’s so complex, it’s got a lot of theory and science behind it,’’ Mr Sheather says.
A chef was sent to the first pop-up restaurant and the feedback was so positive, the guide wanted to support Dylan in any way possible, he says.
‘‘Dylan has got the passion and the drive that you can’t buy,’’ he says.
His experience at prestigious restaurants such as Attica, Biota, Jacques Reymond and Ormeggio were a result of his initiative to contact them himself.
The young aspiring chef says his passion began while cooking alongside his nan and watching MasterChef at age 10.
‘‘Then I got a few cookbooks by famous chefs... for birthdays and Christmas,’’ he says.
‘‘I got inspired and started doing more fine dining.
‘‘I want to open a restaurant when I’m 26 years old.
‘‘I don’t want to expand out too much, I just want a small, 35-seat restaurant somewhere, I’d like a waterfront in Sydney.’’
What would he serve?
‘‘Fine, modern Australian cuisine,’’ he says.
It’s not just the food itself that matters, he says.
The plating and presentation is an important part of the dining experience.
‘‘I’ve got a massive collection of plates down in my basement,’’ he says.
‘‘They add to the setting of the dish, it’s quite important.
‘‘I like neutral tones, browns, whites and beiges.’’
For the pop-up restaurant next year, Dylan plans to serve six courses with six spirits.
Experimenting and creating new dishes is part of the fun of cooking, he says.
‘‘I cook dinners during the week; and on weekends and holidays, I experiment with dishes.
‘‘I have a wide variety of cookbooks, but sometimes you just walk along through nature and find something that gives you inspiration.
‘‘Also the ingredients can inspire you, like a piece of lamb or a carrot that gives you an idea.
‘‘There’s also the internet.’’
With the support of his family, especially his mum, Dylan has been able to meet food producers and source fresh and quality ingredients, he says.
‘‘I’ve met quite a few producers and chefs and I can use their products.
‘‘It’s always much better than the supermarket, like organic vegetables from different farms around Australia, lamb from Milly Hill and duck from Jumjum farm,’’ he says.
‘‘I’ve met some really nice people in the industry.’’
Dylan's marron, fermented and charred leek and turnip
10 live marron (crayfish)
10tbsp olive oil
10 baby leeks
One week before cooking dish, place six leeks into a jar with a litre of water and two grams of salt and preserve in a warm place.
On the day of cooking, place marron in the freezer for four minutes, then kill swiftly by slicing through the thorax with a sharp knife.
Remove head from tail and boil in salted boiling water for 30 seconds, then place in icy water.
Split open the shell from the marron, take out the flesh in one piece and remove the intestinal tract. Vacuum-seal each marron individually with one tablespoon of olive oil.
Shave two turnips on a mandolin slicer and place the slices into cold water.
Boil 11 turnips in salted boiling water until tender.
Peel outer layers of the preserved leeks and then lightly blowtorch.
Boil 10 baby leeks in salted boiling water until tender.
Cook the marron at 60 degrees for six minutes in a pot; use a thermometer to measure the temperature.
Glaze the turnips and baby leeks in butter.
Lightly brush the marron with the remaining butter from turnips, then place to one side of a plate, place the fermented leek on to the other side and arrange the turnips, all the leeks, shaved turnip and turnip tops attractively around the plate.
This recipe serves 10 people.