Cooking and food weren’t central to Burgess’s life until the decision to enter commercial kitchens and undertake a four-year apprenticeship. Interest quickly became dedication and within those four years Burgess worked in establishments across Sydney, among them Tetsuya’s where he completed his training and developed a deeper connection to the provenance of ingredients and the stories connecting the guest to the table. Two years in London followed, with numerous excursions to farms, fishers and purveyors of artisanal goods. It was from here that Burgess garnered his desire to be closer to the source and build a deeper understanding of the food system and the rhythm of nature. A move beckoned and so he relocated to Tasmania on a whim, seeking a place to learn more about organic farming and rural food opportunities.
Burgess launched Pecora Café and then – following a stint at Copenhagen’s Noma in 2010 – opened Garagistes in Hobart with business partners Katrina Birchmeier and Kirk Richardson. It quickly resonated with the public and hospitality industry.
In 2011 Burgess won Best New Talent in the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant awards, with Garagistes awarded two stars in the Gourmet Traveller restaurant guide and 17th place in the top 100 restaurants nationally. Sidecar, an offshoot of the restaurant, opened in 2012. Burgess sold Garagistes in 2015 to travel and research farming techniques in preparation for a rural kitchen concept on 20 hectares of land. On return he worked with Tony Scherer at Rocky Top organic farm for three years while developing the gardens and designing the guest experience.
Burgess has a deep interest in technology and design that can assist in transforming the way we live and work, with a view to transforming the future of food, cooking and farming. He is currently involved with the CookSafe coalition, working on the electrification of kitchens and the move towards fossil fuel-free cooking.