Ross, Royce and Coffee

November 18, 2019

Ross Dobson, a local chef who grew up in South Penrith is best known for opening iconic dining spots; Cafe at Lewers and The Union Restaurant, in addition to creating fantastic cookbooks. Now, Dobson has decided to start a new venture.

I caught up with the chef to find out more about his decision to change direction and open Café Royce, and to get his thoughts on the connection between food and happiness.

Ross, after Cafe at Lewers, The Union Restaurant and writing several award-winning cookbooks, why Café Royce?

“I took a big break and a bit of time out to focus on what was next. I was lucky and had the opportunity to work on a huge cookery book project, which I am just finishing up now. I can’t tell you any more than that at this stage as it’s still under wraps but it’s all very exciting! If everything goes to plan, I’ll be launching the book at the Café Royce so watch this space.

I guess when I was approached to operate the Café Royce, I felt an immediate connection and positive energy coming from the Tulich family. They are so clearly motivated to improve the whole retirement living and aged care experience. It was very refreshing, and I feel privileged to be part of their vision.”

What inspired you to become a chef?

“[It was] a little unusual back then, but my dad was the cook in our house. He was passionate about his veggie patch and grew a lot of the food we ate; all the fresh vegetables. Also, we were lucky to be surrounded by neighbours from all over the world. Our neighbours from Hong Kong, I think though, had the most influence on my decision to become a cook. The exciting food they ate blew me away.”

There is so much in the media now about eating nutritious health food. Has that had an impact on your cooking?

“Trends haven’t really affected what I cook and eat. But I can definitely see the influence. There are so many healthy cuisines without finding a new trend. Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese all come to mind. I look to these traditional cuisines for inspiration.”

I’ve been fortunate to sample a few of your culinary delights myself, but what’s your personal favourite?

“I am all for the classics; a roast dinner, fish and chips and a good salad sandwich. I am also fond of the exciting and fresh of flavours of Thai food, the comfort of Italian cooking or hearty Middle Eastern dishes. And I love baking and eating cake. Very simple cakes, nothing too adorned. I think it’s about simplicity.”

What are your most crowd-pleasing dishes?

“I find that people love a good pie; chicken and leek is a winner. Soup, too. People seem to really like fresh vegetable soups; maybe with some small pasta, scattered with parmesan and crusty bread on the side.”

What kind of dishes will you be serving at Café Royce?

“I’m inspired by Middle Eastern flavours combined with good local and seasonal produce. I’d like to do poached salmon or chicken salad with labneh and lots of fresh herbs and crisp greens. Maybe a simple pasta dish and a pie or lasagne. I also like the idea of sharing so I would like to offer a grazing plate for a couple and families to share.”

Café Royce at The Royce Retirement Living and Aged Care Community is now open. A beautiful, light-filled space, Café Royce features a fresh and delicious menu by Ross Dobson, a tempting selection of pastries and coffee by The Little Marionette.

Article by Claire Ward

Ross Dobson Cafe Royce

Cafe Royce Now Open