HOMEGROWN CHEF: Ripe at Buller Wines head chef Gavin Swalwell marks 30 years in the trade

​AFTER three decades in the kitchen Rutherglen chef Gavin Swalwell shows no signs of slowing down.

Swalwell does the lunch shift at new restaurant Ripe at Buller Wines, Wednesday to Sunday, followed by the dinner shift at Taste@Rutherglen, the venture he opened with his partner Fiona Myers in 2012. Taste also houses Rutherglen Brewery.

“It’s all good fun,” said Swalwell, who marks his 30th year in the trade this year.

Swalwell said since its opening during winter Ripe at Buller Wines had been popular.

“The menu is contemporary Australian; totally based on seasonal produce and reliant on what pops out of the market garden we put in at the winery,” he said.

Swalwell trained as a chef in Melbourne, where he also did the rounds of fine-dining establishments such as Le Restaurant and Burnham Beeches at Sherbrooke, which now belonged to Vue de monde chef, restaurateur and director Shannon Bennett.

In 2001 Swalwell moved to Rutherglen to work at Tuileries.

What's your favourite dish?

Spring Lamb Shoulder, a slowly-cooked dish in tomato and white wine with celeriac.

What are the staples in your pantry?

Truffle when in season, Milawa Duck, venison also sells well. 

What's your secret vice?

Our own beer. IPA. Rutherglen Brewery does about 10 different beers including standard and seasonal brews.

What is your recipe standby?

What is your most unforgettable meal and where?

About 27 years ago I went to French chef Paul Bocuse’s restaurant at Daimaru in Melbourne. I was a young kid who had just finished my apprenticeship. (Melbourne was the most far-flung culinary outpost of Paul Bocuse's great gastronomic empire.)

What's your favourite cooking utensil?

My new char-grill.

What's in your kitchen toolkit?

The Ripe kitchen is a Rolls-Royce kitchen! 

What did you have for dinner last night?

Roast chicken. It’s a Monday night staple in our house. We have 14-year-old twin girls.

What are you drinking?

Our own beers and Buller Wines. Buller does amazing rose and grenache. (Winemaker) Dave Whyte is doing a really good job.


Ripe at Buller Wines,

2804 Federation Way, Rutherglen

Phone: 0400 832 061

Opens for lunch, Wednesday to Sunday, or by appointment for events.