I first met Amy Hamilton, when I had a sneak preview of the Taste Great Southern in 2012. Amy was the head chef for Three Anchors at the time and I knew she was bound for great things. Her passion for fresh food and the local produce was an inspiration.
Amy had told me she was inspired to cook when she was just a dishie at Must Wine Bar. She was mentored by one of my favourite Perth Chefs Russell Blaikie and to this day, Must Wine Bar is still my favourite restaurant. I was also fascinated to hear, before becoming Three Anchors head chef, Amy had been Lady Gaga’s personal chef for 5 days when she stayed at Albany’s luxury retreat, Maitraya. Read my interview with Amy from 2012 here.
I met Amy again years later at her very own venue, Liberté, a Parisian inspired bar with an elaborate wine and cocktail list and French-inspired Vietnamese food. Amy’s passion for food and Albany hadn’t changed one bit and I am not at all surprised her venue won Bar of the Year in Gourmet Travellers Restaurant Awards. If you are planning a trip to the Great Southern, Liberté is a must visit.
As a mum to two children of my own, I do wonder how other parents who have to work or are doing it solo manage. I am told Amy is not interested in painting a bleak picture of life as a chef and a single mum. She loves to create amazing food and she feels lucky to be part of such a creative industry; even one that is male-dominated. She speaks about how she has always been fully supported by male colleagues but admits:
“I’ve seen a lot of women struggle to being a mum in the industry, just because of the hours. Often you can go to work when they’re asleep and come home when they’re asleep and it’s really difficult that mother guilt.”
Amy speaks from the heart as she has two children of her own and believes balancing family life with work is extremely important. This is the main reason that Liberte is closed on a Sunday, allowing the team to spend time with their families. Even with breaks like this, the working hours of a chef are long. Amy understands that for some young people wanting to start out in the industry, the necessary dedication can be a hard sell. She says,
“Not every chef starts out in the kitchen. If you like the idea of the industry but are unsure about fitting in, get a qualification like the Certificate III in Hospitality. It gives you a good grounding in everything from the front of the house to food hygiene. You can start with the basics and see where it goes from there. This helps you to see whether you can get the balance right before you are all in.”
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