Executive Chef Zac Cribbes

zac cribbes

We’d like to share with you the man behind the scenes at Lucy Liu Kitchen & Bar. He leads the way in the kitchen and is a partner in the business.

Zachary Cribbes grew up in the hospitality industry where his parents ran and owned a restaurant. Zac’s whole life has been surrounded by food, whether it was helping to make the Crème Caramels after school in his parents bistro at the tender age 9, or to help prepare the rendang for the ‘Rijstaffel” (traditional Dutch/ Indonesian feast) they would have at family celebrations. In fact, that very Rendang recipe is now showcased on Lucy Liu’s menu with the short rib beef.

After finishing school and unsure of what to do, Zac enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts at LaTrobe University while still working in restaurants to support himself. A one-year stint at The Long Table in Red Hill working nights and weekends, it affirmed his love for the industry and gave him a taste of the excitement that comes with cooking great food. Always interested in travel, Zac gave away university and headed to Europe and the Asia.

Well and truly bitten by the travel bug, the next four years were trips in and out of Australia living and working abroad. After returning from 8 months living and working in Sweden, Zac walked into Taxi Dining Room, one week after it had won Restaurant Of The Year award and told Michael Lambie that he wanted to work in the best restaurant in the state; that he would work for free if he needed to prove himself. His profound eagerness caught Michael’s attention who took him on. Michael and his head chef Tony Twitchett latched on to Zachary’s interest in food and thirst for knowledge and taught him how to operate in a successful busy restaurant. They both remain great mentors and friends.

In 2010 after a four year pseudo-apprenticeship at Taxi Dining Room, Zac decided to see something more moving to Red Hill to work at the brand new Port Philip Estate. Together with the great team, they were ecstatic to gain their first chef’s hat in 2011. In the following year, mentor Michael approached Zac again to launch The Smith in Prahran.

At The Smith, Zac became the head chef with Brad Simpson; together they built a brilliant kitchen and a great team. In 2014, the team launched Lucy Liu together where Zac came onboard as a partner, creating one of Melbournes busiest restaurants.

Outside of the kitchen, Zac’s greatest pride is in his family. He lives in the inner north with his wife, Kelly and two daughters; Lola and Ruby.

When asked what his greatest inspiration for cooking is, it would be ‘travel and food’. “I would rather eat in the local dumpling house and adapt what they do than follow cookbooks,” he reiterates. His love for food and what it means for families – excites him, especially when it comes to enhancing human interaction, communication and relationships.

In the kitchen Zac, finds himself always telling his chefs ‘hot, sour, salty and sweet” when talking about flavour balance and flavour profiles for dishes at Lucy Liu’s.

When asked how to measure a successful restaurant, Zac says, “Success has to be based on how the customers perceive it, and how in turn, busy you are. Focusing on what tastes great first and worrying about how it looks second and always checking in with your customers. Ultimately, it is about hospitality and we should be doing it for them not for ourselves”.

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Please note that all booking(s) after 3pm are allocated a 1 hour and 45min seating time.

If it is a Friday or Saturday and you wish to book for this evening please call the restaurant on (03) 9639 5777.

For groups of 8 and above, or if your preferred time is not available online, please call the restaurant on (03) 9639 5777