Hadleigh s pushing the boundaries
Hadleigh's pushing the boundaries

Only Hadleigh Troy could amuse seafood guru Rick Stein with a scallop dish he had never eaten before.

"That was the best thing for me, to feed him something new," Troy says.

"It was scallop skirt from the beautiful Rottnest scallops we have at the moment. They come in the whole shell, so we shuck them and braise the frill. Rick said he and his head chef only use the frill in stocks."

It was another culinary coup for the most unassuming of chefs whose Restaurant Amuse keeps blitzing the field with rave reviews and top honours.

The most recent - the 2011 Young Achievers Award - was awarded last month to Troy and his wife, Carolynne, at a Restaurant & Catering Australia Lifetime Achievers presentation dinner in Parliament House, Canberra.

The award put the couple among the ranks of The Press Club's George Calombaris, Vue de Monde's Shannon Bennett and Becasse' Justin North.

Not that it was always like this. When the Troys started in August 2007 with $120,000 to refit a downmarket Asian buffet in the wrong part of East Perth few people turned up for dinner and a lot in the industry thought they would fail.

"Sometimes we would sit there till 8.30pm with all the lights on and no one would come, so we would turn off the lights and go home," Troy says.

But people did start coming and then the awards started rolling in, including Lighthouse Chef of the Year in The West Australian Good Food Guide 2011 and a Two Star rating (Star Anise was the only other WA restaurant to be equally awarded) in the Gourmet Traveller 2011 Restaurant Guide.

Troy had an impeccable background, having worked at Alain Fabregue's Loose Box and Neal Jackson's top-notch Highgate restaurant.

The Troys both worked with internationally renowned chef Philippe Mouchel in Melbourne, before heading to London where Troy did time at Michelin-starred restaurants The Greenhouse and Gordon Ramsay's La Noisette.

Restaurant Amuse's degustation menu represents Troy perfectly - its understated description of the 10-course dinner, including "tomato, crab and avocado", "fish, scallop and samphire" or "pork, squid and cucumber" - belying the wizardry of one of Perth's most innovative chefs.

Leading a team of six in the kitchen they pump out 650 plates, not counting snacks and palate cleansers, on Friday and Saturday nights.

"Yes, in some ways it's easier doing dego than a la carte; but in a lot of ways, no," he says.

"On any given night we end up doing at least 12 different menus for people because maybe they're vego, pesco, gluten intolerant, dairy free or don't like tomatoes, won't eat green beans or are allergic to mushrooms."

Troy's passion is desserts because he can push the boundaries.

On the menu there's a melting chocolate bar with pistachio parfait and a freeze-dried raspberry and pistachio ice-cream made on the spot with liquid nitrogen. It's described as "pistachio, chocolate and raspberries".

"It's just looking at different techniques and textures and I have lots of gadgets to make easy work of the jobs," he says.

"The other night when Rick Stein's head chef popped into the kitchen, he was asking about all the gadgets and toys because he is classic, classic, all the way.

"He was very sceptical when he came into the restaurant but by the end of the evening he said 'you've changed me, this is great'.

"I was showing him the liquid nitrogen, what you do with it, and he was like a little kid all over again."

The West Australian

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