Luke was born in Papua New Guinea, moved with his family to London at age eight, and then following his parents’ separation, moved to Spain with his mother, her new husband and his sister at age 14, leaving his father and brother in London.
He was 16 years old and living in Barcelona when he saw a notice in the window of a small restaurant, advertising for cooks. He applied, got the job, and cooked in Barcelona for six years. Luke moved back to Australia in 1991 and was briefly employed by Maggie Beer at Pheasant Farm restaurant. He later owned his own catering company and restaurant. When it closed he worked at the Adelaide Convention Centre, before moving to Byron Bay to be head chef at Dish restaurant.
In 2010 Luke was working in what he dubs an amazing job as a catering manager at Sanctuary Byron Bay, when he was involved in a terrible car accident that forced him to quit his job. He has been recovering ever since and still suffers physical and emotional trauma from the accident. Luke sees MasterChef: The Professionals as a step to getting back into the kitchen.
Luke’s mother taught him to cook and this, along with his time in Spain, has had a profound affect on him, giving him history, tradition and a true understanding of food and cooking. “I would see thousands of years of tradition flowing from the cooks I worked with. They taught me that ingredients can argue with each other.”
His grandfather, Alfred Wark, also features prominently in his food memories. Alfred worked at Yalumba Winery for over 25 years and passed away 20 years ago. Luke has many old cookbooks and menus that belonged to his grandfather and would often visit Australia as a youngster and stay with his grandparents in South Australia, spending time on the vineyard and doing country stuff like yabbying. “It feels like the old boy is watching me and I’m sure he’d be proud that I’ve got his cookbook.”
He describes himself as loyal, creative and passionate.“You see who you really are when you’re cooking. It brings out the best and the worst in you.”
Luke lives in Byron Bay with his partner Tanith, who does all the cooking (he loves others cooking for him, even if it’s beans on toast). He has an 11-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, Leila, who lives in Adelaide with her mum, but visits Luke regularly.