Pip Sumbak grew up on an irrigation farm in the Riverina, NSW. While her family cultivated rice, wheat and oats, Pip, the youngest of 4 kids, kept herself busy, chasing sheep and enjoying the freedom of farm life.
She moved to Sydney in 2008, to study a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney. During this time she spent 3 months travelling and working in Vietnam on a University placement. Growing up, her family had always eaten slow, real food. There had always been vegetables from the garden, and a chest freezer full of pasture-fed lamb raised on their land. But it wasn’t until the spicy flavours and aromatic smells of Vietnam, that Pip began to see that food didn’t just nourish and sustain; it could also excite and challenge.
After Uni, Pip travelled throughout Europe, taking the opportunity to eat locally sourced food wherever she went. Whether it was sardines roasted in fat in Croatia or a cheap currywurst in a German train station, she found herself inspired by the food she ate. She was offered a job in the Swiss ski resort Verbier, where she worked alongside hatted chefs in luxury chalets. When a skiing accident meant Pip had to be flown home to Australia, she began working for Three Blue Ducks on their administration team, while she recovered.
In 2013, Pip was accepted as a contestant on Masterchef Australia, making it into the top 20. Her experience on Masterchef pushed her to pursue a career in food. She started working at Three Blue Ducks as a cook, learning a lot from the boys’ casual fine dining approach. She took this approach with her when she was hired as a chef onboard luxury surf charters and islands throughout Indonesia and Fiji. Pip would spend weeks surfing, and cooking with whatever ingredients she could rustle up in the tiny kitchen below deck. In the time between charters, when she would return to Sydney, Pip began catering small dinner parties. Within a few months, Pip established her own catering company, Pip's Plate, offering a restaurant experience in private homes and also larger scale grazing tables for weddings and events.
In 2016 Pip took off to France to cook at a private Chateau amid the Bordeaux Vines. Here Pip catered weddings, retreats and private dinners, sourcing seasonal ingredients from the extensive chateau garden and nearby markets.
This year, Pip's focus is with her new venture as Head Chef at Cellar by Gilbert in Mudgee, a popular wine region in central west New South Wales.