Scott Pickett hit the culinary world hard, fast, and young.
At the age of 18, upon entering and winning the prestigious UK chef competition Salon Culinaire, he was recognised as ‘one to watch’ and since then, has worked in many of the top kitchens both locally and around the world.
He’s now running four different venues—Saint Crispin, Estelle Bistro (a relaunch of his first restaurant Estelle), ESP—Estelle by Scott Pickett, and Pickett’s Deli and Rotisserie—and has no intention of stopping!
This is a chef who’s got edge (he rides a Harley!), who pushes boundaries, and is charmingly persuasive in sharing his love for food with other people (I found myself trying sweetbreads—eek!).
That being said, Chef Scott Pickett isn’t one for the limelight nor does he really like being hammered with questions. But he still managed to finish off a private function, jump on his Harley, and make it to Estelle to see us. Major respect, Scott, and thank you!
Estelle Bistro is the relaunch of Scott’s original baby, Estelle, and is just as it sounds—a French-style bistro that is casually elegant with lovely wood tables and a lush and light-filled courtyard. Right next door is Estelle by Scott Pickett, more affectionately known as ESP, which is the degustation destination and like the posher, wealthier, more masculine older brother. Here, it’s dark and moody, sexy and mysterious; the lights are dim and the palette consists of dark neutrals.
The clientele is mostly made up of the business attire crowd, a few of whom you’ll find sitting merrily on the stools around the huge open kitchen! Whether you’re here with friends or for business, ESP is the place you come to for a whole evening of entertaining—there’s no hurry to get through the courses. You’re here to indulge, luxuriate, and enjoy the company you’re with.
The eclectic menu at ESP had me a bit nervous as it included wallaby, milk fed lamb, and the aforementioned sweetbreads, which is probably my worst ever ‘fear food’! I have to tip my hat towards Chef Scott Pickett because I still found the seven-course menu utterly delectable and my friend and I walked away without any of the discomfort that usually accompanies an extensive tasting course!
The paired wines were spot on and the entertainment provided by the open kitchen just elevated the entire dining experience. You get the chance to engage with the chefs who all bring dishes directly to your table which I just loved.
When Chef Scott noticed my visible aversion to the sweetbreads course, he told me:
“…think of them as some lovely, juicy chicken nuggets.”
I tried (I really did!) and took a bite to see if I might be able to enjoy them but NOPE—my brain just refused to accept it! Oh well. It was a valiant effort and certainly more than anyone else has ever been able to do in terms of getting me to take a bite of sweetbreads! Luckily, my friend utterly devoured my portion, claiming it to be delicious, so it really is a matter of personal preference!
You were dubbed as the one to watch from Judge Bruno Cerdan at the age of 18. Did such high expectations from a young age affect you?
The high expectations motivated me to perform and excel.
You worked for some pretty impressive restaurants. What made you “choose” these establishments?
I made a decision when I was in year 11 that if I was going to be a cook, I was going to be a good one and work at really good restaurants. I wanted to be the best, no mucking around! And to be the best I had to learn from the best—that was my driving force and what led me to the restaurants.
Over the years who has been there for you the most in good and bad times?
My wife Bec. She is a wonderful, supportive wife and mother, and she puts up with my crazy hours!
Who is your most inspiring mentor/friend in the business and why?
Philippe Mouchel. Not only is he a wonderful friend, but his guidance and skills taught me to be the chef I am today.
Describe your new baby Estelle (ESP) in 3 words?
Glamour & Good Food
Has your gut always been right in business projects?
So far so good (haha). I put my heart and soul into every business.
Menu inspiration happens when you are doing…
All the time! I’m lucky to live in Melbourne and be constantly inspired by what’s happening around me. It’s such a vibrant city, and the food and wine culture is second to none.
What’s the number one culinary trend you cannot stand?
Moving into breakfast for the first time at Pickett’s Deli and Rotisserie, I would have to say smashed avocado. It’s not on my brekkie menu!
In your eyes, what’s the most underrated ingredient?
Food critics are…
A wonderful support to the industry.
Chef Hats – a must-have? What are your motivators behind gaining Chef Hats?
Lovely recognition, but not always the be all and end all.
Best restaurant in your neighborhood (apart from yours 😉)
Love Merricote. Just down the hill from us in West Garth, doing really great things.
Who is Scott Pickett in 3 words…
Cook, chef & father
And with our interview and chat all wrapped up, Scott jumped back on his Harley and rumbled off into the night.
245 High Street,