Rick Stein is renowned for fresh seafood, cooked simply. Perched high up on a breathtaking sweep of south coast headland, Rick Stein at Mollymook – part of the Bannisters family – the relaxed restaurant’s sprawling ocean views and proximity to Ulladulla, one of the biggest fishing ports on the South Coast, ensures its fresh seasonal ingredients create a truly memorable experience.
We sat down with Remi Lachiaille, head chef of Rick Stein at Mollymook whose menu highlights incredible, fresh local seafood to produce unforgettable dishes bursting with flavour. Lachiaille’s introduction to cooking began early, sitting in his childhood kitchen in Southwest France watching his father. Lachiaille told us about his journey to Mollymook, and shared his recipe for scampi risotto.
On becoming a chef…
Since I was a kid, I loved eating and my parents always enjoyed cooking at home. My father used to cook for weddings, and I used to help him when needed. Since then, I’ve loved being in a kitchen and cooking for others. Then I studied in France (Biarritz) to get my cooking certification and I kept cooking since. I fell in love with Michelin-level cooking and I’m trying to always progress.
On life before Bannisters…
I cooked for years in Ireland, mainly in The Greehouse (one Michelin star at that time, then two, now closed) with Mickael Viljanen in Dublin. After that I moved to Mews Restaurant with Ahmet Dede (one Michelin star) and stayed for three years as sous chef. I arrived in Melbourne in 2019 and cooked for Grossi Florentino with Guy Grossi (two hats) for few months before I took the job as Pastry Chef with Rick Stein in August 2020. By November, I was Head Chef.
On what drives him each day…
I love cooking; it is my passion, my happy zone. When service time starts adrenaline pumps in my body. Every day is a new challenge; it is a unique feeling to be able to please people by driving chefs to cook the food you believed in.
On unwinding after service…
I go home and have dinner with my partner Marina Jacques, share a moment with a glass a wine and try to settle the body and mind.
On always discovering new flavours…
Local ingredients are one of my main focuses and of course what is in season. At the moment I get really good local fish – the bluefin tuna just started, and it is always an exciting moment during the year as it is the most beautiful fish you can get all year long. It is almost like a celebration for a chef to have access to a local bluefin tuna. The wild-caught kingfish is also unbelievable at the moment.
In term of flavours, working for Rick is a great opportunity to travel around the world with him so I intend to create a menu to reflect that. I am always happy to go back to my roots with a nice classical French touch. And I have to say one of the biggest learning for me is the curries, which are always a good challenge to cook and to balance.
On cooking at home…
It depends on my mood really. During the week, always something simple and quick as I cook after dinner service. During days off when I have more time, I love to cook a nice rich sauce dish as beef bourguignon or chicken with morel sauce. If the weather is nice, lighting up the barbecue is always a pleasure too.
On what he’s excited for at Bannisters…
There is a lot of excitement now. I guess building a team is always the first challenge and to keep them going it is always important because without them we will not be able to operate and to create the right experience for customers.
And the food of course! We are always trying to find the right ingredients as sustainable as we can, being innovative and creative to keep the interest of cooking.
On the chefs who inspire him…
I really love the work of Josh Niland in Sydney focused on seafood and how to reduce the wastage. His technique is impressive and inspiring.
The other restaurant I really look up is Oncore by Clare Smith. She is such a talented chef with elegant way of cooking and great palate.
Worldwide I always enjoyed looking at some of my former chefs Ahmet Dede (Dede at the Customs House in Baltimore, Ireland) and Mickael Viljanen (Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen in Dublin, Ireland) – both talented with different style of cooking and great human beings. I’m always grateful and thankful to have learned from them. The French scene is always something I follow up too. I find the food at Marine Restaurant in Noirmoutier (Alexandre Couillon) impressive.
Rick Stein at Mollymook’s Scampi Risotto
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 celery stick, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small leek, chopped
1.5 litres fish stock
350g arborio rice
50g unsalted butter
125ml dry white wine
8 scampi tails
Juice of 1/2 lemon
To make the stock, heat olive oil in a large pan and add the garlic and chopped vegetables and allow them to sweat. Add the fish stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid off. Then push through a conical sieve with the back of a ladle to extract the flavour.
To make the risotto, melt the butter in a pan then add shallots to sweat. Add the arborio rice and stir until golden. Add wine and reduce until dry. Add the stock in four stages, allowing the liquid to absorb each time before adding more.
To finish, brush the scampi tails with olive oil and grill for a few minutes. Serve the risotto topped with the scampi tail, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.