Issue Eleven A New
Normal
With
Pat Nourse
Mark Best
Myffy Rigby
and more

Contents

Editor’s Letter

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Editor’s
Letter

 
 

If 2020 has shown us anything it is that nothing is certain and whilst it is impossible to predict what will happen moving forward in relation to Covid-19, we can assume that the foodservice industry will continue to be impacted for the foreseeable future and beyond.
 
The foodservice community has demonstrated its resilience – your determination, your diligence and camaraderie are the true measures of hospitality. But if Covid-19 has taught the industry anything, it is that the model needs to adapt, offerings need to diversify and those with the ability to change will be the ones that survive.
 
The Australian red meat industry has itself faced a raft of challenges with foodservice shutdowns not only locally but around the world in every export market. Increased demand at a retail level somewhat softened the blow but demand for mince products led to carcase imbalances as premium cuts diverted from foodservice and into mince and sausages.
 
Moving back through the supply chain, livestock prices are at record highs as producers seek to restock herds and flocks after widespread rain brought some reprieve to long term drought conditions – meaning less livestock are available for processing.
 
The last few months have given me an opportunity to rethink what we bring you in our quarterly publication, to reconsider what matters and why. We have done some adapting of our own and this issue brings with it some exciting changes.
 
Firstly – I’m proud to welcome two incredible contributors to the Rare Medium family, each with their own dedicated sections. Pat Nourse, one of Australia’s most accomplished food journalists, takes on our new People | Places | Plates section – sharing the stories of chefs, venues and menus; while industry legend Mark Best brings us his Spotlight On section – an exploration of various components of the Australian red meat supply chain.
 
Our new What’s Good in the Hood section reflects the importance of community dining and celebrating neighbourhood favourites. First up we explore Sydney’s Inner West with the fabulous Myffy Rigby. If anyone is going to show us around town then it may as well be the editor of the Good Food Guide!
 
We also have a new Cut Two Ways section – featuring a different cut each time cooked by two different chefs and our Young Guns section that explores the stories of young professionals through the red meat supply chain.
 
The value of supply chain relationships has never been more apparent and I look forward to continuing to connect you with our wonderful Australian red meat producers, to grow and prosper together with whatever comes next.
 
Following your journeys over the last few months has at times been heartbreaking but more often than not it has been empowering. I hope that the stories of this issue inspire you as you have me – as together we come to terms with this strange new world.
 
 

Mary-Jane Morse
 
Meat & Livestock Australia
[email protected]
@_raremedium

 

Copyright: this publication is published by Meat & Livestock Australia Limited ABN 39 081 678 364 (MLA).

People Places Plates

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In each issue, Pat Nourse brings us People | Places | Plates – a look into the inner workings of chefs, venues and menus around the country.

 

Here, Pat talks to three vastly different hospitality leaders about how they’ve rolled with the pandemic punches.

 
 

Adaptation:

The New Normal

 
 
This is not a feel-good story. It’s a ‘do what you have to do and keep doing it’ story. It doesn’t wrap up tidily with all the answers and there’s no group-hug at the end. Not yet, anyway.
 
This is the story of three different restaurant businesses that have kept their heads above water and their lives moving forward in the middle of the greatest period of global upheaval in generations. The backgrounds of the people who run them are different, as are their businesses – one is an owner-operator chef of an acclaimed 40-seater, another a publican at a century-old boozer with a Chinese restaurant on the side, and the third oversees a dozen venues and hundreds of staff serving thousands of covers daily.
 
The things they have in common? They’re all leaders in their fields and their communities, looked to by their peers not simply for the quality of their food (which is high) but for their standards in hospitality across the board. And now, in the midst of this pandemic, they’ve also shown themselves to be united in their determination to prevail, and to embrace change to make it happen.
 
We’ll say it again: none of them claim to have the answers, some of their observations are at odds with each other, and all of them think we’ve still got a way to go before we’re clear of this thing, but here’s what’s been working for them so far.

Pull No Punches

 

O Tama Carey

– Lankan Filling Station, Sydney

 
 
What makes sense to O Tama Carey in the New Normal?
 
“Nothing. It’s f****d up,” she says. “Yeah, we’ve adapted and we’re still going and it works to a certain point, but it’s only because we have to. This isn’t what I want to be doing with my business right now. None of it.”

Lankan’s beef pan rolls – a menu mainstay.

At Lankan Filling Station, her celebrated East Sydney restaurant, Carey does things her way. One early rave review said it might be useful to think of it “less as a Sri Lankan restaurant and more an O Tama Carey restaurant”, and that rigour has come in handy in the pandemic.
 
At Lankan, she says, they’ve done pretty well with adapting, even if it has sometimes been a forced-march at times, and a challenge.
 
 
 

“The first struggle was having to get everything online to do takeaway orders, and that was a big head-f***, that was a good two weeks of quite tense work trying to figure it out, and then we suddenly said we were going to take bookings, so that was another two weeks where it was ridiculous.”

 
 
 
The food, Carey says, is the one thing she had confidence in. “One of the things that did make it easier was that we could stick our stuff inside a container. It was one of about a million things you had to think about. The packaging – that was insane. Even the eco-stuff still comes in plastic sleeves.”
 
“We’ve made a shortened menu, but the beef pan rolls will never go.” Pan rolls are a crêpe wrapped around a filling of spiced minced beef which is then crumbed, deep-fried and served with a fiery fermented-chilli sauce. Carey calls them the Sri Lankan response to the spring roll, and they’ve also been compared (favourably) in the press to the mighty Chiko. White, red and black curries have also remained at the core of the Lankan Filling Station menu. Black curry is the base of choice for red meat: shoulder of lamb or goat, for instance, cooked down without water or coconut milk in a mixture of spices rich in clove and nigella that’s been roasted hard and hot.

Lankan has evolved from a no-bookings model to three sittings and a banquet menu.

Going from a restaurant open regular dinner hours to a takeaway where orders started at five and then stopped cold at 7.30 was a curve-ball and, to Carey’s surprise, delivery didn’t take off. She promptly complemented the takeaway menu with a retail offer, packaging up a lot of what’s on the menu, like the devilled cashew nuts, as well as basic provisions and preparations such as curry powders and tea blends as well as a selection of LFS merch, including coconut-shell spoons, tees and totes.
 
Navigating back into dine-in trade has had its challenges. Lankan had previously been a no-bookings restaurant; now it does three sittings for a banquet menu, with à la carte only for walk-ins. They’ve been full since.
 
 
 

“But ‘full’ isn’t that full, and now takeaways have dropped off,” Carey says. “If we were doing as many takeaways as we’d been doing and serving people in the restaurant, we’d be doing quite well, but when one happened the other stopped.”

 
 
 
The idea that this pandemic will inspire wholesale change in hospitality isn’t something she buys into. Come spring, she says, and it’ll look very normal again: “People have short memories.” But at the same time she plans to take this opportunity to rethink what she really cares about. “Being open all the time was a big thing for me at Lankan, but I might not care for that anymore,” she says.
 
What has the situation taught Carey about adaptation? Some people are better at it than others. “It freaked a lot of people out, but adaptation doesn’t freak me out. I haven’t loved doing what I’m doing, but adaptation hasn’t scared me,” she says. “You’ve got to be ready and you’ve got to be adaptable.”

Staying Ahead of the Game

 

Palisa Anderson:

– Chat Thai Restaurant Group, Sydney

 
 
A director of Chat Thai, the restaurant group founded 31 years ago by her mother, Amy Chanta, Palisa Anderson is across a dozen businesses, including six branches of Chat Thai, plus Boon Cafe and Jarernchai grocery, and Boon Luck, an organic farm outside Byron Bay.
 
Her influence extends beyond Thai cuisine. She’s been a collaborator in the kitchen everywhere from Contra in New York City to Hija de Sanchez in Copenhagen, and in 2018 she cooked at the MAD food conference at the invitation of Noma chef René Redzepi. Boon Luck Organics, meanwhile, supplies the top-flight likes of Quay and Momofuku Seiobo.

Palisa Anderson: don’t whinge, just get on with it.

Chat Thai expanded their delivery from two avenues to five with two of their outlets delivering direct.

If there’s anything that can sum up her approach to restaurants it’s that change is continuous and essential. “We’ve always been agile. I don’t want to go into racial profiling but I’ve just come back from Thailand where survival is about being agile, and you have to roll with the punches no matter what.” Having what she calls the “immigrant business mindset” really helps, Anderson says; you don’t whinge about it, you just get on with it.
 
 
 

“You don’t ever take it for granted that you’ll always have these customers, so that’s why we always constantly put on seasonal specials. If you’ve got the ability to do it, you should do it, and that’s how we’ve always run.”

 
 
 
COVID-19 has been a real wake-up call, Anderson says, for people in the food world who have only ever done things one way. “To keep trade going we’ve done all sorts of things to stay competitive in this market.” The Chat Thai app has come into its own. They’ve expanded their delivery from two avenues to five, and two of their outlets deliver direct. They’ve upped their online advertising spend, and become much more targeted about how they do it, something Anderson says she’s surprised more food businesses don’t explore. Dark kitchens are already in the pipeline.

Khao Soi Nuea – egg noodles with beef brisket in a Northern region coconut curry with smoked chilli oil.

Anderson has also been every bit as analytical in adapting Chat Thai’s menus to the new circumstances, scaling the 100-plus items on some down by a third. “Thai food is actually not that great for takeaway when you think that anything that has fresh herbs in it just oxidises the moment you put it into steaming boxes.” Anything more labour-intensive or with higher-cost ingredients, like whole fish, also went. “We went over every product cost and refined from there.” The slimmed-down menus combine punch with pragmatism.
 
 
 

“We had to do this very quickly, and we had to do this not knowing what was coming next.”

 
 
 
On the red-meat side that translated to the likes of the fiery salads of char-grilled rump, with roast chilli and soft herbs, or nahm dtok-style, with smoked-chilli jam, as well as the comfort of curries – gaeng nuea yang, the hot coconut curry of grilled beef with betel leaves, and the classic massaman, hunks of beef shin braised with potatoes and peanuts.
 
A lot of people are starting to understand that this business isn’t about perfection, Anderson says, but about adaptation and working in progress. “You don’t have to follow trends but you do need to follow the market; where you stay true to yourself is in your core ethics and the quality of your product. But the way you do business has to change, otherwise you can’t survive.”

Chat Thai’s Massaman Nuea – a curry of slowly braised beef shin and potato.

Until COVID-19 hit, The Lincoln had not had to close its doors for an extended period since opening in 1854.

Moving Forward Together

 

Iain Ling

– The Lincoln, Melbourne

 
 
The Lincoln probably hasn’t closed its doors for any real length of time for more than 150 years. Or at least it hadn’t until COVID-19 came along. Built in 1854, it has a classic Melbourne back-street boozer facade, but its influences extend beyond Carlton. Its publican, Iain Ling, grew up in Liverpool, cut his teeth in hospitality in London and worked at MoVida before he and his wife, Stella, took over the pub in 2014.
 
Since Ling took the reins, the Lincoln has become the kind of pub that takes the care to make the buns for its burgers in-house, and puts fresh horseradish in the slaw that goes with the grilled hanger. The kind of pub that does a whole lamb shoulder to share, and smokes the Béarnaise that accompanies the T-bone with Yorkshire pudding. The kind of pub where a sour beer from Two Metre Tall and a whey stout from Bruny Island are on tap next to the Carlton Draught.
 
Two doors down is Super Ling, a small restaurant that Ling also opened. And like The Lincoln, there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s not your classic Cantonese-focussed Australian Chinese restaurant, for one thing. Chef Mike Li was raised in Mauritius, and the Hakka Chinese flavours of his mum’s cooking are front and centre on the menu.
 

Iain Ling sums up the COVID-19 experience in one word: Panic.

Ling has a reputation for candour. Ask him what the process of adaptation looked like back in March across the two businesses, he doesn’t mince words: “Panic”. When you pivot into something, Ling says, you can’t lose sight of your original reason for going into business.
 
 
 

“It’s very hard to do it just because you have to. For us, letting the pub lay dormant for a while turned out to be the better thing to do.”

 
 
 
Ling himself was anything but dormant. He and Mike Li streamlined Super Ling for takeaway, pressing pause on such signatures as the tartare of peppered tri-tip with garlic stems and spring-onion mayo, and the mighty meat platter – beef tongue, tendon, shin and honeycomb tripe piled high with chilli oil, house pickles and peanuts. They turned instead to Hunan-style topside with snake beans and a classic (ish) beef with black bean. “A lot of our à la carte menu just didn’t work for takeaway. That’s why we called our delivery model Super Ling Express – to give it two separate identities.”

Hunan-style topside with snake beans – one of the delivery menu adaptions at Super Ling Express.

Ling and some hospitality mates also started a charity, the COVID-19 Employee Assistance Directive, or COVID-19 EAD, to feed the hospitality workers that got left behind when JobKeeper was announced. “When the internationals were told to go home,” he says. They started cooking for about 100 people a week, which quickly snowballed a week later to 600 people, and now they’re sending 2,500 meals a week. “And even though we’re back open now, the demand for that is still pretty high.”
 
To reopen the pub to diners, Ling decided the menu had to be more focused. “We decided to go with homely stuff that you don’t want to cook at home.” Classic favourites that you associate with a pub: like a “really good, big” Flinders + Co porterhouse with duck-fat potatoes and Cafe de Paris. He even reduced the physical size of the menu down to A5 so there wasn’t too much empty space on the page, “the plan is to keep the offer reduced and move through stock in a more concentrated way for a while.”
 

Flinders & Co porterhouse, duck fat potatoes and café de Paris at The Lincoln.

Somehow Ling still finds time for one-off initiatives like creating a pop-up grocery with Michael Ryan, owner and chef of Provenance, the acclaimed restaurant in Beechworth, in Victoria’s northeast. For a day, Super Ling was packed with jars of miso butter, pine mushrooms picked in soy, and an exceptional beef jerky. “I know we’ve had it hard here, but f***, Michael has had it harder at Provenance. He had 90 per cent cancellations in December.”
 
 
 

“I’m a big believer that we all get ahead together,” Ling says. He lives for a challenge. “The question now is, how can we help the guys around us?”

HOT PLATES

Great red meat, to go.

Beef Lasagne

 

Attica, Melbourne

 
Three-hat lasagne? The Melbourne fine-diner may not yet be taking guests, but Ben Shewry’s cooking is still up for grabs, from the tasting menu to go, through to this very homey all-beef lasagne, replete with pull-apart garlic bread.

Lamb Ribs and Cacao

 

Gauge, Brisbane

 
Bringing new definition to the words “finger-lickin’ good”. The smoked shoulder with urfa chilli is no slouch, either.

Wood-grilled Rib Eye

 

Totti’s, Sydney

 
A serious 800 grams of prime, primal goodness, delivered to your door from one of Sydney’s busiest openings of the last 18 or so months.

Photography: Sarah Hewer

Beef Wellington

 

Heritage Wine Bar, Perth

 
The house signature: 300 grams of Harvey beef fillet wrapped in mushroom duxelles, swaddled in crêpes and then wrapped again in puff pastry. Oh yeah!

Grilled Ox-Tongue Khao Jee Pâté

 

Anchovy, Melbourne

 
Slices of tongue hot from the coals, stuffed into Laos’s answer to the bánh mì: what’s not to like?

What’s Good in the Hood

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Each issue we explore a new neighbourhood for the best eats and treats in the local community.

SYDNEY’S INNER WEST

WITH MYFFY RIGBY

 

If anyone is qualified to show us the best food in the neighbourhood it is Good Food Guide Editor and all-around fabulous food fanatic Myffy Rigby. We took to the streets of Sydney’s vibrant and vivacious Inner West to check out Myffy’s favourite local spots from epic Egyptian eats to “the best burger in Australia” on a sunny rooftop – here’s what’s good in the Inner West hood.

Our What’s Good in the Hood guest host Myffy Rigby.

CAFE PACI

Beef Tongue Taco

 

Cafe Paci’s Pasi Petanen and the basis of their delicious taco – the beef tongue is brined, poached, shaved and then cooked over coals.

The final product – Beef tongue taco at Cafe Paci

MAPO GELATO

Avocado Sorbet & Fior Di Latte Gelato

 

Architect turned gelato god Matteo Pochintesta.

Avocado Sorbet and Fior Di Latte Gelato at Mapo.

CAIRO TAKEAWAY

Charcoal Lamb Pita Pocket &
Hawawshi – spiced mince flatbread

 

Cooked to order kofta over coals at Cairo Takeaway and Hawawshi aka crispy pockets of goodness – spiced mince flatbread with onions and peppers.

Cairo Takeaway’s charcoal lamb pita pocket stuffed with house pickles, salad and tahina.

OXFORD TAVERN

Brisket, Hot Links & BBQ Sides

 

In today’s edition of MJ and Myffy eating things – it’s brisket ladies and gentlemen.

Oxford Tavern’s Black Betty smoker pumps out deliciousness like this smoked brisket with hot links and classic BBQ sides.

LP’S QUALITY MEATS & BELLA BRUTTA

Beef Cheek with polenta and garlic & parsley oil

 

LP’s has reopened for weekend lunches in addition to the wholesale smallgoods business with products like this beef bresaola in the charcuterie room at LPs.

Bella Brutta’s beef cheek special – decadently tender beef cheeks with wickedly buttery polenta and parsley and garlic oil.

MARY’S ON TOP

Mary’s Burger

 

Jake Smyth spinning yarns and flipping burgs at the new Mary’s On Top on the Lansdowne rooftop.

The construction of burger condiments is an actual science.

The Mary’s burger – “the best burger in Australia” according to Myffy.

Spotlight On

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THE PRICE OF THE PANDEMIC

 
 

For the debut of Spotlight On, Mark talks to various participants through the supply chain about the effects of COVID-19.

 
 
 

With the impact of COVID-19 continuing to unfold; the emergence from prolonged drought and a devastating bushfire season; and the near-complete shutdown of the Tourism industry – 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging the foodservice sector has ever faced.

 
 
The foodservice shutdown across the country and around the world meant that Australian red meat exports – representing 70% of Australian red meat production – were restricted or stopped altogether. Such an abrupt halt to such a significant channel for Australian red meat sent a shockwave through the industry. It was a unique scenario in how quickly it occurred and the fact that it more or less impacted all markets at once.
 
The canary in the coal mine was Stockyard Beef Managing Director Lachie Hart.

Stockyard Beef Managing Director Lachie Hart.

“We first heard about Coronavirus from one of our distributors in China towards the end of January. We watched it very closely as it developed into a pandemic during February. But I remember the week, it was about the second week of March, very clearly; and that’s when governments around the world just went into complete lockdown,” he said.

Mustering at Gulf Coast Agricultural Co – a one million hectare property in QLD producing purebred Brahman cattle.

While Stockyard Beef, with its premium lot fed product, felt the effect of COVID-19 early, other producers had a different perspective. Gulf Coast Agricultural Co. is a one million hectare, privately owned pastoral station in the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland, raising pure Brahman cattle. As livestock producers, Karina O’Neil acknowledges that they didn’t really see the worst effects of COVID-19 like many other industries did.
 
“While it was tragic to see the effects of COVID-19 on the restaurant, hospitality and tourism industries, sales of red meat through supermarkets and butcher shops more than covered this gap in the market and demand for cattle has remained consistent,” she said.

Tim Burvill, Managing Director of South Australian Cattle Co, felt a significant impact on his operation – a paddock to plate business producing its own Hereford cattle for its steakhouse restaurants.
 
 
 

“It was massive for us, and not in a good way. Both our A Hereford Beefstouw steakhouses in Adelaide and Melbourne were shut down as were our ten sister restaurants in Denmark.”

 
 
 
“We also supply dry-aged beef to all of the restaurants in our group and all of these sales came to a complete stop. On top of our own internal sales of beef, in Australia, we also supply many foodservice operators with dry-aged beef. So, pretty much overnight, our entire business was decimated. It was a horrific thing to go through.”
 

As the industry begins the process of recovery, one component is paradoxical – that despite a dramatic drop in exports – red meat prices have remained at a premium.

Tim Burvill outside his A Hereford Beefstouw restaurant.

“Coming into 2020 many producers were looking to rebuild their herd and from late January a number of widespread rainfall events swept across northern and eastern Australia driving reprieve from the dry conditions and reinvigorating producers demand and desire for livestock,” Meat and Livestock Australia’s Scott Tolmie explains.
 
“This has led to a significant immediate tightening of available livestock for slaughter and, as is typically the case, a drop in supply has led to higher prices.”

Widespread rainfall has driven up the price of livestock as producers look to restock their herds after prolonged drought conditions.

Karina O’Neil of Gulf Coast has felt the effects of the prolonged dry spell saying that while there has been late summer rain throughout many drought-affected areas, it has not necessarily been enough to fully recover.

“Throughout most of the North of Australia and a lot of areas of Queensland and NSW, the rain has not really been substantial enough and some areas in central Queensland that had good feed from late summer rain, then received early winter rain, decimating the feed and are now having to destock. For others, the prolonged drought has knocked pastures around to such an extent that even with significant rain they will take years to recover.”

“There may have been a drop in exports but demand has remained strong on the domestic market and we are looking at shorter availability of cattle for processors as producers look to restock,” she said.
 
Lachie Hart says that drought has had an enormous impact on the Australian red meat industry and significantly reduced supply.
 
“Along with the cost of restocking, that is certainly pushing up prices. While global demand has been pegged back, particularly in foodservice, in retail the demand is actually very strong and has remained strong,” he said.
 
Another contributing factor driving price is the significant drop in high-value loin sales to the domestic and export foodservice sectors with the beef industry facing a significant challenge in moving the entire carcase while minimising impact on overall value.

 

The foodservice shut down saw a significant drop in demand for high-value loin cuts.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s Scott Tolmie says that an operational foodservice channel is critical to the Australian beef industry as it encompasses a diverse range of occasions.
 
“The rapid change in consumer behaviour meant a big shift in the typical balance of demand for Australian red meat. Our industry supplies a diverse range of occasions from international hawker markets to premium restaurants and the products they require from offal to manufacturing meat to high-end wagyu.”
 
 
 
 

“Typically, higher value loin cuts make their way into foodservice which balances out the overall value of the carcase for processors. Profit margins on manufacturing meat and secondary cuts are much smaller and the sale of high-value cuts are necessary to maintain profitability. With all markets facing similar shifts in foodservice demand at once, carcase balance became a major challenge, even for a diversified exporter like Australia,” he said.

 
 
 
The financial impact of COVID-19 has been enormous to all sectors and while the restaurant sector has used takeaway to generate income, one of the mitigating factors for producers has been the rapid uplift in online and retail sales.
 

Lachie Hart says Stockyard has been buoyed by consumer demand for beef at the retail level – especially through speciality butchers where there is an ability to educate.
 
“There’s a chain of butcher shops in Brisbane that we have been selling to for some time where we offer our premium Kiwami brand, something we would normally sell for over $100 per kilogram. I took some samples in and it walked out the door. They increased their orders the following week and they just kept increasing.”
 
“It’s opened my eyes to the fact that there are consumers here in Australia that are quite happy to make that investment, to buy something that is going to give them enormous enjoyment. So I think there are enormous opportunities for high-quality beef in the domestic market,” he said.

Stockyard Beef’s Kerwee Feedlot in QLD’s Darling Downs.

Meat supplier Vic’s Meat’s foodservice business is extensive including a significant dry ageing program and when COVID-19 hit, they were left holding the baby.
 
 
 

“In March I was looking at $4.5 million dollars of high-end product wondering what we were going to do. By the end of June, it was all sold through our online retailing and weekend market days. We put it online and it was gone. I couldn’t believe it,” said Vic’s purchasing officer Jack Churchill.

 
 
 
While changes to consumer behaviour and perception can be difficult to predict, thinking differently about how foodservice venues source, prepare and sell their beef to the diner can alleviate some of the uncertainty.
 
For chef Neil Perry of Rockpool Group, this has come in the form of a whole carcase program which he has had in place for 14 years. Currently, he takes three whole carcases every month and says not only do his customers see real value in all parts of the beast but also doing it this way makes the premium cuts great value.
 
“We have taken whole carcases for a long time, particularly in Melbourne where the weather allows for things like corned beef, braised briskets and burgers. With the shoulder cuts, we break them down to pretty much a lot of grilling cuts now – the Denver and blade and so forth, just breaking it down into individual muscles,” he said.

Neil Perry says Rockpool’s whole carcase program makes premium cuts great value.

With 20 years’ experience as a beef producer raising English Longhorns and other breeds in South Australia and Tasmania and a retailer and supplier to foodservice, Richard Gunner knows a thing or two about high-quality beef.
 
 
 

“It is much easier to manage price changes if there is more interconnectivity of cut use. Operators who do intelligent things like promoting ‘the butchers cut of the day’ as well as presenting cuts in a way that differentiates them from the look of the original primal, makes a big difference. Minimising the price differential between cuts would be very beneficial to the ability of market participants to move beef prices more easily in line with cattle prices,” he said.

 
 
 
Tenderness has long been the prime quality indicator for beef – thus driving the pricing of loin cuts which consist of the muscles that do the least work. With loin cuts representing only around eight percent of the carcase – can customer perception be influenced to raise the value of the remaining 92 percent and bring the carcase back into balance?

Loin cuts represent just 8 percent of the beef carcase.

Tim Burvill isn’t sure it is achievable – citing that western cultures love tenderness in red meat above all else.
 
“We’ve been eating red meat for hundreds of years, so society has some very established beliefs in what constitutes an elite eating experience, it’s what the customer wants. I think a better approach is to educate diners and consumers on alternative cooking methods for secondary cuts and demonstrate they can achieve a very good eating experience by preparing and cooking the meat in a different way,” he said
 
However, Neil Perry feels that as long as there is an explanation behind it, his customers are ready to take on something new.
 
 
 

“When the customer feels comfortable that the venue has got control of what’s going on, they feel very at home and willing to try whatever we are pushing – it is not difficult for us to say we have a nine-year-old shorthorn that we’d love you to try or a cut that they may not have heard of.”

 

Neil Perry says customers will try new things as long as there is an explanation.

As a producer, Karina O’Neil agrees and suggests that education and marketing is key – particularly when it is linked to sustainability.
 
“We cannot afford to waste any of the beast and nor should we have to. Every part of the carcase has value nutritionally and its own attributes or characteristics. The less-tender cuts of meat often have a far superior depth of flavour but require a different preparation and cooking style – whether that is through dry ageing or cooking low and slow. This requires more time but is so worth the reward and is part of the reason for the increased popularity in American BBQ with smoked brisket, hump and ribs,” she said.
 
Richard Gunner agrees that things are changing and that customers and diners want stories along with authenticity and experience.
 
When we first started all we could sell was fillet and scotch – now we can sell almost any cut and even retired dairy cow. Education is key and chefs are naturally innovative – we just need to amplify their message and the rest will follow.”

 
Karina O’Neil and Gulf Coast Co has had a long association with leading chefs and sees them as the key link to driving red meat consumption through the COVID-19 crisis and into the future.
 
 
 

“With better education of chefs and increased access to the full food supply chain, chefs are in a position to set the trends that then flow down through the foodservice sector and ultimately through to consumer trends.”

Chefs are in a position to set the trends that flow down through foodservice and into retail and consumer trends.

Richard Gunner agrees that supply chain relationships are key and sees resilience in the Australian foodservice sector through the support of the red meat industry.
 
 
 

“The Australian restaurant scene was ever-growing in importance for overall plate share of meals eaten by Australians. It has been belted as few other sectors have ever been belted. What I know is that when you are belted you really appreciate the people that are there for you and support you at these times. You remember them for a long time. If the red meat industry supports restaurants, I think that investment will be returned many times over in the ensuing years,” he said.

 
 
 
COVID-19 has been a time of financial and emotional pain for many but also one of change, and in many cases, personal growth. It has also been an opportunity to reassess old business models and the way the supply chain works together. Producers and the foodservice sector are now looking at how they can work together more closely, to innovate for mutual benefit.

 

Cut Two Ways

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THE CUT:

Beef Y-Bone


 
 

The Y-Bone or Cross Cut Blade is derived from the beef forequarter and cut from the blade primal. Like the T-Bone, that includes the sirloin and tenderloin on either side of a T shaped bone, the Y-Bone features both the oyster blade and the chuck tender. Because it comes from the shoulder, which is a working muscle, the Y-Bone is a more textural cut with a full flavour.

The Y Bone or Cross Cut Blade

THE BUTCHER:

Michael Robinson

– Hungerford Meat Co.

 
 

The Y-Bone cuts in this feature are from Hungerford Meat Co in NSW’s Hunter Valley region. Derived from 100% pasture-fed Black Angus from Albion Farm, a local beef farm about 15-20 minutes from the shop, the whole blade primal is dry-aged for a minimum of 30-40 days but up to 60 days.

Chef turned butcher Michael Robinson at Hungerford Meat Co.

Albion Park Angus Dry Aged Y-Bone at Hungerford Meat Co.

Michael says that the dry-ageing helps to break down the fibres and enzymes in the meat, resulting in a tender and flavoursome cut. The primal is then marked up into steak portions and sliced lengthways on the bandsaw resulting in the Y-Bone or Cross Cut Blade cut.
 
Michael recommends cooking to medium-rare over charcoal which imparts a really good flavour that compliments the nuttiness of the dry ageing – but says the versatility of the cut means it can also be slow-cooked depending on the result you want to achieve.

The Y-Bone is marked up into cuts then finished on the bandsaw.

This unassuming butcher shop on the main street of Branxton was built by Claude Hungerford in 1937. The Hungerford family held the butcher shop for four generations before selling to another local family who maintained it for two generations.
 
After working as a chef for 15 years at restaurants like La Trompette in London, Ortolan in LA and Bathers Pavilion and Becasse in Sydney, Michael Robinson was the next to take on the legacy. He has been at the helm of Hungerford Meat Co for almost four years – creating a speciality butcher and smokehouse serving the local community and a range of foodservice outlets in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle. With a chef background and a direct connection to local farmers, the focus for Michael is on using the whole animal – offering a range of cuts not generally widely available and his own charcuterie and smoked meat range.
 

The butcher shop was built by Claude Hungerford in 1937.

“We took it back to the original name to play on some of the history and the heritage of the building and the shop. The whole philosophy of the shop is about slowing down, taking it back to using the whole animal and using whole cuts. It’s about getting the butcher involved with the customer again and sharing knowledge.”

Michael’s aim is for the butchery to be stocked by 100% local small farms.

“We would like to have the shop stocked 100 per cent from small farms in the area which is our goal for the next year. We buy direct from the farm wherever we can and currently, probably about 70 per cent is coming from local farms and we also have some of our own cattle at Lochinvar,” Michael said.

CHEF ONE:

Joel Bickford

– Aria Restaurant

 
 

Chuck Tender & Squid with Brassicas, Fermented Chilli & Black Garlic.

Chef Joel Bickford.

Removing the chuck tender from the Y-Bone.

Joel’s dish takes on all the finesse and finery of an Aria style offering – and is the kind of fine dining surf and turf that dreams are made of.
 
Joel chose to remove the chuck tender from the full Y-Bone cut – resulting in a perfectly portioned piece. The chuck tender has been gaining popularity on menus with its full flavour and tenderloin like shape – the dry ageing process, as undertaken at Hungerford Meat Co, on this cut assists with tenderising.
 
The chuck tender was seasoned with salt and pepper then pan-fried and basted with roast chicken and kombu butter. While the steak was resting, slithers of Hawkesbury squid were flashed in the pan. The chuck tender was plated with the squid, pickled turnip, creamed turnip, wood ear mushrooms, flowering brassicas, burnt broccoli, young peas and finished with an anchovy, mushroom, black garlic and fermented chilli dressing.

Joel’s chuck tender with squid.

CHEF TWO:

Nicholas Hill

– The Old Fitz

 
 

Y-Bone Steak For Two With Potato Tart & Bordelaise Sauce.

Chef Nicholas Hill.

Marrow is removed from the bone, sliced and added to the bordelaise sauce.

Nik and Michael used to work together at Bathers Pavilion and share a similar philosophy on using the whole carcase and sourcing locally. Nik regularly sources Michael’s produce for The Old Fitz.
 
Nik’s dish is the ultimate in elevated pub fare – it’s the kind of dish you want to spend the afternoon or the evening with. Technically designed to share, it might just be too good to do so.
 
The whole Y-Bone is pan-fried and finished with butter and garlic then rested. Meanwhile, a classic bordelaise sauce is pimped out with chunks of tender marrow and a decadent potato tart appears from the oven.
 
Served straight up with horseradish cream that has been piped into the marrow bone and sides of potato tart and bordelaise sauce.

A pub meal to be reckoned with – Dry-aged Y-Bone for two with potato tart, bordelaise sauce and horseradish cream.

Young Guns

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HEARTS-YARD

Jarrod Walsh
& Dorothy Lee

 
 
 

The charming young team behind Hartsyard – an inner west institution nestled snugly amongst the hustle and bustle of Enmore Road – Jarrod and Dorothy’s infectious enthusiasm for hospitality and community centric business model makes them the perfect pairing for this issue’s Young Guns.

American chef Gregory Llewellyn and his wife Naomi Hart launched Hartsyard in 2012 where it quickly became a hub for the community and built a cult following for its fried chicken. By 2017, it was time for a change and Hartsyard 2.0 emerged with a more modern Australian offering and Jarrod at the helm as head chef. By January 2019, Jarrod and Dorothy were the proud new owners.
 

Barely more than 12 months in, Covid-19 hit and the young couple faced a raft of unprecedented challenges as restaurateurs. We caught up with them in their second week of reopening, and despite the stress and uncertainty, their tenacity, genuine warmth and drive reminded us what hospitality is all about.

 

So, how did you guys meet?

 

JW: Dorothy was working as a pastry chef at the Intercontinental and it was in an elevator – she hit on me and said she liked my tattoos. Then we met again a few weeks later at the Ship Inn and that was it, we’ve been together ever since.

Tell us about your careers so far.

 

JW: I started my apprenticeship at 15 in Port Macquarie in an RSL club. I did four years and decided it wasn’t what I wanted as a chef so I moved to Sydney. I worked my way up to sous chef at the Intercontinental then when I felt I wasn’t really learning anymore I headed on to Automata just after they opened. Clayton had a real influence on me, particularly his approach to produce and that was really the turning point and when I wanted to take being a chef seriously.
 
I then went to QT Hotel, which was a massive operation and cemented for me that that style of cooking was not where I wanted to be. Greg at Hartsyard was looking for a head chef to help him reinvent the concept and not too long into that, he started talking about wanting to sell, and here we are.

Working at Automata was a turning point for Jarrod where he was inspired by Clayton’s approach to using produce.

Originally a student of Political History before working as a chef at some of Sydney’s best restaurants – Dorothy has hit her stride managing front of house at Hartsyard.

DL: I came to Sydney to study Political History and soon realised I am really not good at studying. I really liked baking so enrolled at TAFE doing pastry but didn’t have the patience so moved to commercial cookery which I loved. I started at the Intercontinental as an intern while door knocking all over Newtown at little restaurants and bakeries – I ended up at Hartsyard asking Greg for a job.

 

I had no idea what I was doing but he was so happy to teach me and he had a huge influence on me with the way that he wanted young people to learn. Next I went to help Saga open and then on to Ms G’s for a little bit and then on to Momofuku Seiobo. Paul took me on even though I didn’t have Michelin experience and taught me that if you are passionate enough, you can do anything regardless of your experience.

What was the decision process for you in deciding to buy Hartsyard?

 

DL: Hartsyard means so much to us and to the community as well. We’ve lived in Newtown most of our lives and when Greg said he was selling we realised how much we didn’t want it to go. At the same time, we also wanted a playground for our own ideas and so we thought let’s do it. We had both worked there and Jarrod was the current head chef so we pretty much knew how it ran and could just jump in and get on with it.

Jarrod has evolved the Hartsyard menu to a set five course in the dining room and a separate bar menu.

As an already established venue, how did you make Hartsyard your own?

 

JW: It took a lot of time. Breaking away from having an established name and putting our own stamp on it really just took time and sticking to what we want to do. It is probably one of the biggest struggles we have had.

 

DL: Honestly, everybody has been so supportive of us and the locals pretty much knew we were taking over and were great. It was more diners that weren’t from the area that would come back and be disappointed they couldn’t get the fried chicken – but they ended up having a great time. I think focusing on those positives makes it worth it.

What advice would you give other young restaurateurs looking to start their own businesses?

 

JW: You have to focus on finding the right people because we are nothing without good staff.

 

DL: Yes, and when you find the right people, you have to look after them because they are building your dreams for you. Also, you really can’t do everything by yourself so you need to learn how to pass things on to others who can.

Dry aged lamb tartare is salted and served on toast with black lime butter, anchovies, fermented chillies and pickled onions.

What do you love about owning your own restaurant?

 

JW: I love the freedom and being able to do whatever we want to do. If we get bored with something, we change it. We work with quite small producers and that’s vital to keep that consistency going and build our relationships. If you look after your supplier, they are going to look after you, we have each other’s backs and I love that.

 

DL: I love the freedom too, it keeps it interesting and nothing is ever the same. We want to feel comfortable but once we do, we know it is time to start something new. For me, I love building connections with winemakers and being able to tell the story of each wine to customers. I’d never done front-of-house and it keeps me excited every day, it gives me more of a sense of what a restaurant is, the people and connections makes us appreciate what we do and gives us a sense of achievement.

Quality produce is at the core of the Hartsyard philosophy – Westholme oyster blade with mushroom ketchup and new season truffle.

How do you think COVID-19 will change the restaurant scene?

 

DL: I hope people understand that there is a price to everything. We carefully choose our produce and that means we are helping feed someone else’s children and supporting another human being. I think people will start to understand more the importance of supporting Australian community and I really hope they understand the connection between everything. People already seem genuinely more respectful and appreciative and I hope that continues.

 

JW: I agree. I think people will care more about the quality and the story behind food and wine. When we were doing takeaway, we couldn’t charge restaurant prices but we still used the same quality produce. The margin was lower but continuing to support those suppliers and their products was what was important. Initially we were going to stick with takeaway but after the first few nights of service and takeaway – it just wasn’t working for us. Our menu is now a five course $88 set menu with two snacks which will change seasonally. From an operational perspective, having the set menu makes it easier for us to plan while minimising waste. It also gives us a clearer picture of turnover each night. I think a lot of restaurants will start to take this approach. We’ve also launched a bar only menu which will be completely separate, it will change regularly and gives us a creative outlet.

Who are your biggest influences?

 

DL: I know it’s cliché but Kylie from Momofuku. She gets so much credit already but she is actually a really wonderful human being. Her advice to me was that I have to look after myself before I can look after others and I truly stand by that. I need to be authentic to myself and then I can pass that energy on to customers genuinely.

 

JW: For me it is Ben Shewry. I just love everything about the way he is. The way he treats his staff, his creativity, supporting the community – just everything. His cookbook was mind blowing and made me think this is how you need to think when you are coming up with things and using Australian ingredients.

Westholme chuck tail flap is marinated in tamari soy and sesame and served with Mexican cucumber pickles.

Tell us about red meat at Hartsyard.

 

JW: We use Westholme, it is so consistent and such a great product. Their whole style of farming is important to me – the way they support the community and their approach to sustainability. I am always straight up for secondary cuts before anything else. You need to put a bit more effort into preparing them but they’ve got so much more flavour and they give you a bit more of a challenge in the kitchen.

 

DL: When we have different cuts on the menu, the customer is always interested in what they are. We explain where they come from, the characteristics and how they are prepared and they are genuinely interested in that. Also being able to tell the whole story about where and how that meat is produced is a very good conversation starter. People are so interested in what they are eating especially after Covid – they want the information and to understand the process.