Five minutes with Highline Restaurant Chef Simon Tarlington
Simon Tarlington was born and raised in Bundaberg, North Queensland. Growing up in a small farming community provided him with great insight as to how hard small producers and farmers have to work, how reliant they are on the seasons and how important it is to produce the finest quality produce to make a living.
At the age of thirteen his family relocated to Brisbane and it was here that he fell in love with cooking. Simon started his first job at 13 years old working as a school based Apprentice at Broncos Leagues Club. Six months later he was offered an apprenticeship at one of Brisbane’s highly renowned 5 star hotels, the Hilton. Here he learnt the basics of cookery. Once he completed his apprenticeship he worked at a small restaurant called Gianni’s. After 10 months at Gianni’s he packed his bags and moved to London. Initially working in numerous Michelin Star restaurants including Pied a Terre and Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, his first paid job in London would be at Maze (Michelin 1 Star) for a very famous Chef named Jason Atherton. After a year and a half at Maze he moved on to working at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (Michelin 3 Star) for the inspirational Chef, Clare Smyth.
After two years in London, Simon moved back to Australia where he worked at one of Australia’s most famous restaurants, Quay in Sydney under the tutelage of the amazing Peter Gilmore. In 2014 whilst working at Quay, he was nominated for Appetite for Excellence Young Chef of The Year Awards. Simon worked his way through the State Finals and was eventually a Young Chef of the Year National Finalist.
In October 2014, Simon was approached by the Railway Hotel in Chapel Street, Windsor with the offer of a Head Chef position which he accepted. In his time at the Railway Hotel, Simon has created Highline Restaurant which has been the recipient of multiple awards for it’s contemporary Australian menu which utilizes produce from the owner’s farm located in the Strathbogie Ranges.
Q: What is the ‘can’t miss’ foodie event in your calendar each year?
A: I’m always interested in reading the guides, seeing what restaurants have done well and what has been trending throughout the year
Q: How long have you been a chef and why did you decide to pursue this career?
A: At the age of thirteen my family moved to Brisbane from Bundaberg. It was here that I fell in love with cooking. I started my first job at thirteen and a half working as a school based Apprentice at Broncos Leagues Club. 14 years later I still enjoy working in a team during a busy service.
Q: Can you explain your food philosophy?
A: My food philosophy is based around fresh flavours, seasonal produce, and sustainable practices so future generations can enjoy what I have. I believe that the food should speak for itself. I believe by using seasonal and local produce that I can create dishes that can help reveal to others the exciting Australian produce that we have available. I like to think outside the box. Nothing should go to waste and I like turning people’s perception of something that may seem inedible into something wonderful.
Q: If you weren’t a Chef, what would you be?
A: Possibly a carpenter (or a trades man of some type) as I like to use my hands and the satisfaction that comes from seeing the finished product that I have created.
Q: What is your favourite ingredient?
A: Australian Pepperberry, it is such a unique ingredient that can be matched with so many flavours. In Highline we use pepperberry in both savoury and sweet dishes.
Q: What do you like to eat at home when nobody’s looking?
A: Arnott’s Cheds are my all time favourite snack, I have been known to eat half a packet by myself.
Q: If you could invite any Chef for dinner, who would it be and why?
A: Peter Gilmore or Jason Atherton as both of these chefs have inspired me to cook in different ways and encouraged me to create my own style.
Q: Sweet or savoury?
A: I must admit I do have a sweet tooth, but I prefer cooking savoury dishes.
Q: Which era would you like to recreate with your culinary talent and why?
A: The early 90’s when fine dining started moving away from French Cuisine and was being recreated all over the world in varying styles.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you could give to aspiring chefs?
A: Keep on pushing, listen to what the customers are saying, use their feedback to your advantage and never take criticisms personally.
Q Person you would most like to cook for (alive or dead)?
A: Escoffier. It would be amazing to have a conversation with him and be able to show how the industry has evolved.
About Highline Restarurant
Highline is a fine dining restaurant situated above the bottle shop on the first floor at 29 Chapel Street, Windsor, Victoria. (Entry is via a hidden door between the bottle shop and the convenience store).
In October 2014, the restaurant set about creating a truly unique fine dining experience using produce from their own farm, Oak Valley.
Oak Valley is located in the Strathbogie Ranges at Longwood in Victoria. With over 2000 acres of land they grow a huge variety of fruit and vegetables. They also have thei own livestock, Pure Bred Angus cattle, Dorper lambs and Pure Bred Berkshire pigs. Seasonally they collect honey from their bee hives, wild berries from their paddocks and mushrooms from their Radiata Pine plantation.
Head Chef Simon Tarlington (Young Chef of the Year Finalist 2014 and formerly of Quay in Sydney and Maze in London) and his team create dishes from the freshest ingredients as they arrive from the farm. Dishes often changing daily as produce arrives.
In 2017, Highline Restaurant received a Chefs Hat from the Age Good Food Guide alongside Australian Hotels Association (Victoria) Best Restaurant and Australian Hotels Association (National) Best Restaurant.
The restaurant itself is a very intimate space where they hope to transport you away from the hustle and bustle of city life to the peace and tranquility they enjoy at the farm.
The Restaurant Manager and Sommelier Eric Wagnon and his team will take you on the "Farm to Plate Journey". Eric's extensive experience and knowledge is highlighted in his wine matches which was awarded 3 Glasses by Gourmet Traveller in 2017.
Highline is open on Tuesday through to Saturday from 6pm and Tuesday to Friday you are welcome to dine a la carte or from the seasonal degustation menu.
Citibank customers can enjoy a free bottle of award-winning wine, every time they dine and pay with their Citibank card at Highline Restaurant. To book, click here