State: NSW/Western Australia
Born on the Sunshine Coast, Rhys’ earliest memories of food are of his mum’s epic feasts and Christmas lunches at his grandparents' camping spot in Byron Bay. “Beer for the oldies and swimming and surfing for the grommets, followed by a big seafood lunch; prawns, fish, spanner crabs and pavlova. Classic Aussie food.”
Rhys has one brother and two sisters, who are now spread over Australia. His parents separated when he was young and it was then he moved to Kalbarri in Western Australia, a small cray fishing town. His stepfather was a commercial cray fisherman and it was Rhys’ time on the cray boats during school holidays that saw his passion for seafood emerge.
At 14 he moved to Byron Bay to be with his father. Since he started his apprenticeship at 17, he has gone wherever the job has taken him. Beginning his apprenticeship at Driftwood Estate, he then moved onto Cape Lodge where he worked with Tony Howell, whom he credits for teaching him to cook. He has since worked as a certified chef at Dunk Island, a sous chef at Bespoke in Brisbane and has been head chef on the Kimberley Quest for the past three years.
Laid back, fun and easy going, people think he’s the cruisiest person they’ve ever met and often employers can’t work out how he gets the work done. His mantra: “Don’t stress out. You’re useless when you’re stressed so just don’t do it.”
Rhys loves surfing, fishing and when the opportunity arises, diving, which is only about once a year in the Kimberley due to the crocs.