Q&A: Chef Dallas Cuddy of Freebird

Updated on June 13 2017

Tucked away in the quiet Sukhumvit 47, Freebird is a modern Australian restaurant with a lush garden. Ever since it opened last September, Freebird has been prized for its expert immaculate plating, high-quality seasonal produce and exquisite imported ingredients. To find out the secret of Freebird’s success, we sat down with chef Dallas Cuddy at Freebird and the general manager and head sommelier Marcus Boyle.

Chef Dallas Cuddy at Freebird

My cooking philosophy is… based on the three fundamentals, the “three T’s” – taste, texture and temperature. I believe in healthy and nutritious food with clean flavours. I like food that is vibrant, and is served in smaller portions; so, that it doesn’t make you feel weighed down or heavy and still allows you to experience a myriad of subtle umami flavours.

I worked at Nobu in London for two years, and that is where I learned how to layer flavours. Nobu helped me bring my formal fine dining experience and Asian profiles together. It opened my eyes and showed me how flavours do not have to be rich or heavy. It can be subtle yet complex. 

Freebird

I like to work with… seafood. Growing up in Australia, [seafood became] something I am very comfortable with. I always believe in sourcing ingredients locally first. And Thailand is great with herbs, vegetables, as well as local fish, pork and organic chicken. I like to support the community and small farmers as much as possible. But what I can’t get locally, I will import. On some level, I think it all goes back to techniques, less about what ingredients you use. It’s about stimulating all the senses with the “three T’s”. I also like to make sure I use salt and acid in every dish to balance [the flavours] properly.    

Freebird

I am inspired by… ingredients and sometimes, its aesthetics. I always mentally conceive a dish, and usually can “taste it” in my mind before I create it. I think a lot about the flavour profiles when [it comes to] creating new dishes.  The older I get, the more I like to pare back and minimise what I put on the plate. As a chef, it takes much more confidence to hold back and be much simpler. There is usually a bit of tweaking involved. And the dishes tend to evolve, from the time I envision them to when they actually get to the plate. 

Freebird

My work philosophy in the kitchen… is training our staff and building them up. Markus and I both tend to manage from above, not from within. By that I mean, I believe in a structure and a chain of command that empowers our team to make decisions on their own. Our Thai staff has a lot of heart, soul and personality. I support them, trust them and want them to grow – to develop their own skills so, that they can go on and be the next leaders in the field.

Freebird

 To me, cooking is all about… highs and lows. A career as a chef is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. From the age of 13, I knew I wanted to be a chef. I knew I could never be tied to work. just sitting at a desk. When I was in Melbourne, I won the Young Chef of the Year Award, and I’ve also worked in many great kitchens over the years. Being recognised by my peers is always a great thing but in the end, it’s about making great food and having happy customers. I designed the kitchen [at Freebird] so, that I can get immediate feedback from our customers. Being a chef involves long hours, and it can be both exhausting and exhilarating. It’s about commitment and love of the craft. For me, it is all about passion – everything that is food related.

Freebird, 28 Alley, 47 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, +66 2 662 4936