Chef Louis Couttoupes will finish his three-year tenure at Bar Rochford this Saturday night. Couttoupes has built a reputation for serving inventive, considered dishes at the Canberra-favourite (and GT Bar of the Year) since it opened in 2015, but is taking a break to refine his culinary ideas, and eventually open his own restaurant.
"I've learnt a whole lot but it's time for me to keep learning outside of the kitchen," Couttoupes says."It's really bittersweet. It's been my first real kitchen job and being given the space to experiment and try new things has allowed me to grow and learn as a chef."
Josh Lundy – whose CV includes time at Ellacrue, Eightysix, Pulp Kitchen and Sepia – has been lined up to lead the kitchen upon Couttoupes' departure. Not that the outgoing chef has any solid plans post-Bar Rochford.
"Pop-ups are definitely on the cards in Canberra and potentially in Sydney," he says. "I'd love to open my own place. I think that's every chef's dream but I'm in no rush. I've just got to find the sweet spot in terms of location and costings."
For Couttoupes, his future restaurant will have its foundations in solid relationships with small scale producers, and a focus on in-house fermentation. "I'm really excited about having the time to cook at home from my own produce and for me as well. That's hard to do when you're in a kitchen all day, every week."
The final service of Bar Rochford with Louis Couttoupes in the kitchen will be Saturday 23 February, where diners can order his favourite dish of the moment: tomatoes with bee pollen, stracciatella and fig leaf oil, sharpened with a mango vinaigrette and finished with black mint, grown by Couttoupes himself.
"The Bar Rockhord team have become my family", he says. "I'm sad the closer it gets [to leaving], but the other side of it is exciting."
Bar Rochford, Level 1, 65 London Circuit, Canberra, 02 6230 6222, barrochford.com