How about this for a recruitment technique: look after a chef's dog while he travels overseas, then hold the dog ransom until the chef agrees to cook in your restaurant.
It worked for The Summertown Aristologist's Aaron Fenwick, who has successfully recruited chef David Moyle to lead the Adelaide Hills restaurant for an eight-week stint later this year.
"I said: yeah, we can look after your kelpie. But how you feel about cooking in our kitchen?" says co-owner Fenwick. "We have your dog now, so you have to say yes."
He's joking, of course. But since announcing the departure of current head chefs Brianna Smith and Oliver Edwards, co-owners Fenwick, Anton von Klopper and Jasper Button have recruited Luke Burgess and Moyle to cover the pans. Burgess, who nabbed a Gourmet Traveller Best New Talent award in 2011 during his time at Hobart's Garagistes, will be in residence from 28 August before making way for Moyle (Franklin, Longsong) from October to December.
"They both have their own styles – Luke ran one of the top restaurants in the country, and Dave's experience speaks for itself. I'm excited to work with them," says Fenwick. And where there are new colleagues, there are new housemates, too. "They'll be staying at my house. It should be all good – we have spare rooms."
The successive residencies are a temporary solution while Fenwick seeks a permanent head chef. At The Summertown Aristologist (who've also been shortlisted for the Wine List of the Year and Sustainability & Innovation categories in the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards 2020), the job description is very specific: they need a green-thumbed chef who can turn out breads and smallgoods, as well as pickles and ferments using produce from the restaurant's garden.
"It's a unique restaurant to cook in. We need a multi-skilled person who can deliver the food we have here now: well thought-out, simple and vegetable-driven," says Fenwick.
He's keeping schtum on who's applied for the job, but says there's a shortlist of potential recruits who align with Summertown's ethos. In the meantime, diners can look forward to what Burgess and Moyle will plate up, while Fenwick makes the most of his time with Frank the kelpie. "He's been hanging out on the farm with Anton's dogs," he says. "He's living the hills-dog life."
This weekend is the last weekend with Brianna Smith and Oliver Edwards at The Summertown Aristologist.
Luke Burgess's residence runs from 28 August to 29 September, and David Moyle will be in the kitchen from 16 October to 15 December.
The Summertown Aristologist, 1097 Greenhill Rd, Summertown, SA, 0477 410 105, thesummertownaristologist.com. Open Fri-Sat, noon-3pm, 6-9pm.