Issue Thirteen THE
FEMALE
EFFECT
Producing, preparing & plating red meat

Contents

Editor’s Letter

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Editor’s
Letter

 
 

Welcome to Issue 13 of Rare Medium where I am proud to share with you the stories of just some of the wonderful women that produce, prepare and plate Australian red meat.
 
8 March 2021 marks International Women’s Day and I wanted to dedicate this issue to some of the Aussie women paving careers and leaving their mark across the traditionally male-dominated red meat and foodservice industries.
 
Until 1994, Australian women could not legally claim to be ‘farmers’ – the law defined them as domestics, helpmates and farmer’s wives. Growing up on a mixed farming enterprise and witnessing first hand the aptitude, tenacity and sheer hard work my mum put in to managing our herd of Angus cattle – this fact baffles me. At least now we are on the right path.
 
According to Department of Agriculture ABARES figures, women now comprise an estimated 32 percent of workers in agriculture. Looking to our future, women now represent 55 percent of university students studying agricultural science. They say the future is female – and I say the future looks bright.
 
In this issue we feature women through the supply chain – from the paddock, to the butchery and on to the plate.
 
Mark Best visits Maria Roche and her mother Betty who have single handedly run their own cattle property near Adelong NSW for most of their lives. In the January 2020 bushfires they lost 208 head of cattle and since then Maria has rebuilt every fence on the farm. Their story is one of resilience, dedication and determination.
 
We feature two young female butchers – Elke De Belder who originates from Belgium and is now finding her feet in the world of Australian butchery, and former chef Bonnie Ewan who was named the 2020 Apprentice Butcher of the Year. These talented young women are carving their own paths in a career heavily dominated by men – it’s not easy but they wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
Pat Nourse delves into the inspiration, application and dedication behind the impressive career of Fred’s chef Danielle Alvarez. Danielle effortlessly emanates such a feeling of warmth and kindness despite leading one of Sydney’s busiest kitchens – she is a chef that other women want to work for and it’s not hard to see why.
 
Finally, two tremendous talents take on the tri tip in our Cut Two Ways feature. Trisha Greentree from 10 William St and Fratelli Paradiso; and Jemma Whiteman from Cafe Paci turn out some tasty snacks perfect for summer snacking.
 
It is my privilege to have worked on this issue and to now share it with you.

 
 

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.

 
 

Danielle

Alvarez

 

Born in Miami, trained at The French Laundry and Chez Panisse, and now head of the kitchen at Fred’s in Sydney, Danielle Alvarez is one of the brightest lights in a new generation of Australian chefs.

 

Danielle Alvarez at Fred’s in Paddington.

Danielle Alvarez at Fred’s in Paddington.

It’s quite the sight, the lamb leg hanging by a string: five kilos of top-quality Australian meat dangling on two feet of twine, gently turning in front of a fire, right in the middle of a busy kitchen right in the middle of Fred’s, one of the fanciest dining rooms in Sydney.

 
 
But this is Danielle Alvarez’s kitchen, so it’s not a provocation so much as an invitation. A declaration rather than a dare. And whether that declaration first hits you in the eyeballs or the nostrils, it bypasses the thinking part of your brain and goes straight to your subconscious with one very clear message: this is going to be delicious.
 
The leg has been tunnel-boned to remove the aitchbone, seasoned with salt, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and black pepper, tied to make its shape even, and then hung from its shank in front of a high fire of ironbark and charcoal. There it gently turns, the world’s most basic rotisserie, powered by only the heat of the fire and the occasional tap from a passing chef, until maybe an hour later when the leg is cooked to a juicy medium.
 
In the spring Alvarez might send out the lamb with peas and grilled artichokes and a bright-green oil she makes with green garlic. Or perhaps zucchini flowers stuffed with greens. In the summer, she likes to pay tribute to the southern-French origins of gigot à la ficelle with another Provençal classic, the tian, for which she takes the ingredients of a ratatouille – eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers – and assembles them into a layered pattern cooked as a gratin. Sometimes she’ll serve the leg with the addition of some lamb racks that have been grilled whole then sliced into cutlets. Sometimes she won’t. One thing that’s constant is a lamb jus ladled on top. One of the benefits of getting in whole lambs on a regular basis is having plenty of bones to make a good sauce. And the other final flourish? Just look to the title of Alvarez’s new book.

Fred’s grilled rack of lamb with gratin of stuffed zucchini flowers and jus.

Fred’s grilled rack of lamb with gratin of stuffed zucchini flowers and jus.

In Always Add Lemon, which has just been published by Hardie Grant, the food is very like what is served at Fred’s but Alvarez has chosen to write it less as a restaurant book and more as instructions for good cooks who want to make their food great. She makes the sort of intelligent, perceptive observations on stocks and brines and breadcrumbs that benefit the professional as much they do the home cook, and the page she gives over to “Chardonnay and honey vinaigrette, and how to dress a salad” should be required reading for anyone who picks up a fork.
 
While the lamb leg à la ficelle is eye-catching, for the most part Alvarez cooks meat the way she cooks everything else, putting the produce ahead of the technique, and letting the season guide her creativity. She flips the script on short ribs, poaching them instead of braising them in one recipe, while in another she takes the flanken-cut of the same short ribs – a cut also called asado-style, cut across the grain into narrow strips – and grills them simply with salt and olive oil (and lemon). Lamb leg gets threaded onto skewers for spiedini with flatbreads and “harissa-ish” sauce, while a nice big côte de boeuf gets a reverse-marinade treatment, grilled then rested on a bed of rosemary and thyme.
 
 
 

Alvarez is passionate about using only meat that is raised to the highest ethical standards. “If you ever had to choose between spending a bit more on organic vegetables or spending a bit more on organic pastured meats, you should definitely spend a bit more on pastured meats,” she writes.
Danielle puts produce ahead of technique and lets the season guide her creativity.

Danielle puts produce ahead of technique and lets the season guide her creativity.

There’s plenty to learn in the book about Alvarez herself, too. You can learn, for instance, that the food she cooks today is mostly a product of her professional cooking life in California. But her passion for food came before that, growing up in a Cuban American household in Miami, watching her mother, Rosa, and Aida, her Cuban grandmother, in the kitchen.
 
“Cuban food in our house was a lot of stews that had come originally from the mountainous regions of Spain,” she says. The base ingredients of onion, sweet peppers, and tomato – called a sofrito in Cuba – formed the basis of almost everything. “There was an economical factor to it, too,” says Alvarez. The women of her family cooked a lot using secondary cuts of meat like flank of beef – and were experts at using the pressure-cooker to take something cheap and turn it into something delicious, all within an hour.
 
“One of my favourites is called ropa vieja, which means ‘old clothes’. You take flank of beef, pressure-cook it until it’s shreddy and then make that sofrito base of onion, tomato and capsicum, then pour the shredded beef back in with some of the broth and make a stew with a spice mix involving cumin and oregano. And probably MSG.” With a little bit of white rice on the side and black beans, that was a dinner that was on the Alvarez table at least once a week.
 
It’s also a long way from pretty much anything Alvarez puts on her menus today. Her food at Fred’s is Mediterranean via California, with those southern French, Spanish and Italian traditions accented occasionally with the shishito peppers, Turkish chilli and kombu that are part of the scene in her adopted home city of Sydney.
 
On the odd occasions she chooses to make Cuban food in Australia, Alvarez says, it just doesn’t taste the same. “I think this is where emotion and food come together: it doesn’t take like my mum’s, it makes me miss home more, so I just avoid it entirely.”

Danielle’s passion for food came from watching her mother and Cuban grandmother in the kitchen.

Danielle’s passion for food came from watching her mother and Cuban grandmother in the kitchen.

It was Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook that first took her from Florida to California. “I read it as a student in culinary college and thought, my god, there could be nothing better.” The stories about the farmers and suppliers – the lobster fisherman on the east coast, the orchard where they’d buy their fruit – all of this was foreign to Alvarez growing up in Miami. “We just didn’t have produce like that.”
 
She wrote a letter to The French Laundry and was accepted as an intern in 2006. If she had been drawn in by romantic ideas of the restaurant’s approach, her first experience there jolted her into reality. “I walked in and I was a little bit early because I wanted to be on time. I’ll never forget it: a chef said to me, ‘don’t ever show up early again’. I said, oh, god, why? And he said, ‘when you do that someone has to stop what they’re doing to show you around and everything in a restaurant has a time. Everything is timed to the minute, so you can’t just be throwing that out’. I thought, wow, okay, this is not what I thought it was going to be.” Alvarez learned a great deal from that experience, “and I learned a lot about what I didn’t want to explore.”
 
The local sourcing of produce turned her head. As an intern she spent time picking herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden to be served the same night. “I thought that was magical,” she says. On the flipside she saw what she considered an exceptional amount of waste “to get to that level of perfection”. Sifting through “incredible things” purely to find 50 pieces that looked exactly the same. “I just didn’t see the charm in that.”
 
The restaurant where Alvarez found her sound was also in northern California and, like The French Laundry, it had a notable reputation for the quality of its ingredients. But in just about every other respect, Chez Panisse was a very different place.
 
Alvarez was hired in 2010 and her first few years, she says, were very challenging. On a typical day, she’d sit down at 1.30 in the afternoon at a picnic table under a wisteria with the head chef and the other four cooks to talk about what was on the menu that day. The head chef would write the menus, Alice Waters, the restaurant’s founder would approve them, and the head chef would give the team a very rough outline of what they had in mind. Beyond that it was up to the chefs to go into the kitchen and make something incredible out of this idea. Steep learning curve? And then some.
 
 
 

“I’d worked at a few places that didn’t have recipes and that was okay,” says Alvarez. “But they weren’t Chez Panisse, which was this major institution. I thought that someone had to step in and tell me how to do it, because I wasn’t sure that I knew.” But they didn’t. “You just had to get into the kitchen and fake it till you make it in a lot of ways.”

 
 
 
“It had to really sing. It had to be a perfect representation of the produce, of the moment and of the head chef’s vision for it, and there were a lot of decisions about that which came down to you.” But for all its challenges, it was, she says, a dream job. “As a young chef I don’t think I could’ve had a better experience.”

Fred’s 800g grilled grass-fed rib eye with bay leaf and kombu.

Fred’s 800g grilled grass-fed rib eye with bay leaf and kombu.

She was at Chez Panisse on the tail end of four gruelling, very rewarding years, when an enquiry came via a friend from Justin Hemmes. The owner of Sydney restaurant group Merivale, Hemmes was looking to open something like Chez Panisse. Was Alvarez interested? After flying to Sydney to inspect the shell of the building, she found herself invited by Hemmes and his sister, Bettina, to sketch out an idea for the kitchen.
 
“I imagined it as this very open, farmhouse sort thing I’d seen in Napa at really rich people’s estates,” she says. It wasn’t a set-up she’d seen in a restaurant before, but she had done many a catered dinner in similar spaces and thought it could work. “And Justin said, ‘cool, this looks great, let’s do it’, and they proceeded to build the restaurant around that. And that in a way became the brief for what Fred’s was going to be.” Alvarez moved to Sydney in 2014, opened the doors at Fred’s two years later, found acclaim nearly instantly, and has cooked for booked-out services ever since.
 
Chez Panisse remains the gold standard in the US for farm-to-table cooking, and it also remains a chief inspiration for Alvarez. “Alice was doing farm-to-table 50 years ago before that term existed.” Alvarez says Waters’ focus wasn’t originally about the connection with small, local, sustainable farms for which the restaurant is now known: it was about getting the freshest possible produce, and that meant going direct to farms in the area.
 
 
 

“Their approach was purely from a flavour standpoint. And that 100 percent still stands; cooking this way isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also the best-tasting food.”

 
 
 
Having women leaders like Waters in restaurants is essential for the viability of the trade, Alvarez says. She acknowledges that chefs who are men don’t get asked about men in the kitchen, but wants to talk about her experience as a woman in professional kitchens, she says, because she thinks there are a lot of women who want to hear about it.

"I’m proud to be a woman chef that other women want to work for."

“I’m proud to be a woman chef that other women want to work for.”

“If I was to say one thing to women,” she says, “it’d be that I’m proud to be a woman chef that other women want to work for. It’s important just to be visible, to be encouraging, to help women see that there is a path in this career that is amazing.” And a life in restaurants is not something that has to end if you decide to have a family and have children, she says, whether you’re a woman or a man.
 
 
 

“If you’re a talented, caring, strong individual, there are ways of building things around you. We need more people like that, and the last thing I want to do is discourage anyone from joining an industry that has given me everything.”

 
 
 

Spotlight On

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THE ROCHE APPROACH

 
 

Until 1994, no Australian woman was allowed to list her legal status as farmer. Instead, women on the land were officially defined as unproductive silent partners, domestics, helpmates or even farmer’s wives.
 
In December, I visited Betty and Maria Roche – two generations of farming women who showed me the diverse, innovative and at times heartbreaking role that women play in Australian agriculture. This is their story.

 
 
 
Betty Roche has lived most of her 85 years amongst the steep, rocky hills of her family property Arden. Here she has, almost single handedly, transformed the property into an enviable and viable farming operation. Betty remains a force of nature – this slight, laconic; five-foot tall woman has weathered the physical and emotional hardship of this pioneer country with fierce intelligence and pragmatism.

Betty Roche at her property Arden.

Betty Roche at her property Arden.

Located 60km from Tumut in NSW, the homestead sits just below two springs that feed Yaven Creek. The storied Snowy Mountains cattle country climbs 300 metres up out of the valley to a plateau where you can see Mt Kosiosko. Covered year round in pasture and with snow in winter – it can be both abundant and harsh.
 
Betty’s father and uncle purchased the original property in 1934 where they ran Merino sheep on the briar covered, unimproved pastures. Later, the brothers divided the property along the steep ridge splitting it in half and her father purchased an adjacent property, increasing his land size to 3,000 acres.
 
 
 

“They had to clear the briars to build the original house, a four room fibro cottage – they were as thick as the hairs on a dog’s back. They would cut them with an axe, throw them into heaps and burn them. My job was to paint the stumps with Round-Up,” Betty said.

 
 
 
Betty’s mother was ‘totally crippled’ with rheumatoid arthritis and died when she was 18 – as a result Betty also took on much of the domestic load of life at Arden. I ask her if it was a tough life for her and she responds with her firmness of purpose.
 
“I don’t know. You don’t really think about it and you don’t know any different. Lots of people say to ‘go back to good old days’ – no way, they weren’t good. We didn’t have power here – we had a kerosene fridge that we kept on the veranda because every now and then it would let fly with a belch of black smoke or catch fire. Once I kept a canary in the refrigerator box and a brown snake got in the box somehow – I went out and it had that canary halfway down its neck.”
 
Out of habit and necessity, she still keeps a bolt action .22 and a long handled shovel near the back door – ‘snake relocators’ she calls them.

Arden is located on the north west foothills of the NSW Snowy Mountains.

Arden is located on the north west foothills of the NSW Snowy Mountains.

 

“I used to come out on weekends from high school in Tumut and cook and clean and I used to do all the washing by hand. I’d go back to school and I wouldn’t have any skin left on my hands. Then we got a washing machine with a roller to put the sheets through – you had to keep your fingers out of it. But that was a big help.”

 
 
 
Betty’s father remarried about a year after her mother died. Having managed the place, cooking and cleaning for so many years, Betty decided she wasn’t going to stay and moved into town. Not long after she met and married the local service station man – her daughter Maria’s father.
 
Betty’s father had moved off the property to live in Adelong with his new wife and it wasn’t long before Betty was back to Arden where she belonged.
 
“I was living in Adelong and I hated it. I hated town. I asked my father if I could go back and live on the property and then he handed me the place. It was the fifties or the sixties and I was about 30, with one child.”

Maria and Betty Roche.

Maria and Betty Roche.

By the eighties, Betty and her husband were going through a divorce. The financial settlement was a testing time with the courts awarding 40 percent of the property’s value to Betty’s ex-husband – despite the fact she owned it outright.
 
 
 

“The law is wrong and you can quote me on that because I owned the place. He came here after we’d been married and I had to pay him out 40% value of the property. He didn’t do anything but send it broke.”

 
 
 
Her loan application with their long-term bank was denied – opportunities and access to finance for women in those days was not easy. Her local stock and station agent knew Betty and offered to guarantor her loan, cover her existing debt and provide a line of credit – on the basis of their relationship and her reputation.
 
“After that, every bale of wool that came off this place went through Dalgety’s. He didn’t ask for it but that was his payoff – and all the insurance as well. It was the right thing to do. In those days, you were able to establish those relationships. He was a good fella, got me out of trouble a number of times,” Betty said.
 
In those days, Betty says there were very few women that successfully managed properties and building her reputation was paramount. Being a female had its challenges but Betty was stoic and driven in ensuring it never held her back.
 
 
 

“I’d go to a sale, and because I was a female they would ignore me and wouldn’t even acknowledge my bid. I used to have to yell at them. It was because I was a woman but also about reputation, I had none. So I built one and now I only have to do this,” Betty says as she lifts a little finger.
Arden has been built on Betty’s determination to grow her reputation.

Arden has been built on Betty’s determination to grow her reputation.

Arden paid its way during that time through the high price of Merino wool – again being a woman posed its challenges and again, Betty pushed on.
 
 
 

“I used to have trouble with the shearers and the wool classers because I was female. I only ever sacked one man in my life and he was a shearer. I also went and became a registered wool classer so I could class my own wool – and I’m still a registered wool classer.”

 
 
 
In the mid-eighties, the wool industry crashed and Arden was forced to transition. By this time, with some foresight Betty had started improving Arden’s alpine pastures by the advent of aerial spreading of superphosphate. Native grasses were seasonal and didn’t have the nutritive value of perennial clovers – which provided the farm with greater capacity to run cattle.
 
The purchase of a line of 10 females and a bull was the beginning of Arden Angus and for a short period of time it ran it as a stud selling stud heifers with young bulls sold as a sideline. More recently, Arden has moved towards a larger scale bull operation – purchasing the best genetic bulls they can afford from stud breeders, then making those genetics available to commercial breeders.
 
 
 

Maria Roche returned home to take over management of Arden in July 2019.

Maria Roche returned home to take over management of Arden in July 2019.

Maria Roche, Betty’s daughter, returned home to take over the management of Arden when Betty became ill in July 2019. She had always wanted to come home but Betty encouraged her to have a career off the property.
 
“Mum said I had to get a career off the land and so I went nursing and worked throughout Australia then came back and worked in the local area, managing a number of hospitals. When mum became unwell, I took leave from my job to look after her and the property. So really, my dream has always been to be here.”
 
 
 

“I’ve watched mum and her ambition and dream of achieving the perfect breed – which you’ll never achieve but always strive towards. My aim is the same, to achieve that perfect cow or the perfect bull. I also aim to not be able to breed enough bulls for the demand,” Maria said.

 
 
 
 
Over the years, Betty has built a reputation as an operator who purchases the best genetics – and often at a high cost. In doing so, she has managed to build confidence in her customers because they know that at Arden, the quality is guaranteed.
 
In 2019, Maria and Betty outbid everyone at a packed auction to purchase Milwillah stud bull Nardoo N155 for $62,500 – smashing previous auction records. The bull and his genetics take Arden to the next step in their bull-breeding program.
 
“We loved his balance and great temperament. He’s flat on the back, he’s got good legs, looks neat, tidy and he’s well-muscled. That’s what you aim to breed. It’s about experience and intuition and you either have an eye for it or you don’t. You have your perfect animal in your mind and you let that inform you,” Betty said.

Betty believes in experience and intuition when it comes to selecting bulls.

Betty believes in experience and intuition when it comes to selecting bulls.

Maria says bulls like Nardoo, whilst coming at a large cost to the business, help build confidence amongst commercial breeders and push them towards their business goals.
 
“The objective of our business here is to provide top quality stud-grade Angus bulls to commercial breeders. The genetics we have here would equal many of the studs within NSW and what we are trying to do is make some of the best genetics in beef production more widely available.”
 
Investing in a bull like Nardoo would generally see a return on investment in two years once the first of his progeny have been born, raised and sold. However, in January 2020, tragedy struck at Arden when the property was devastated by fire. Tears well up in Maria’s eyes as she recalls the trauma.
 
“One of the biggest challenges that we faced here at Arden has been the bushfires. The Dunn’s Road fire burnt the entire property except for the houses and a small section around the front. We lost 208 head of cattle and 146km of fencing.”
 
 
 

“It’s that realisation of just how close to death we came. How at any moment we could have become really unstuck. It was quite a frightening experience but at the time we were running so hard you didn’t really realise. It wasn’t until later when you looked back and saw the devastation.”

 
 
 
“We still live it every day here. You go out and there are burnt trees, burnt fence lines, animals that have been burned that you find that you have missed. I suppose working on my own doesn’t help you work through that process as well as it should,” Maria said.
 
Maria planted oak trees where she buried the 208 cattle lost in the fire – a gesture that in years to come will resonate long after the evidence of the fires has disappeared.

Maria has put Arden back together after bushfire devastated the property.

Maria has put Arden back together after bushfire devastated the property.

Along with her 14-year-old son AJ, Maria has worked at a feverish physical pace to re-fence the property and get it back in working order – and to eradicate the evidence. Burnt outlines of the large gums that marched up the hill facing the homestead were a graphic reminder until recently removed by contractors.
 
 
 

“I’ve had to put this place back together and whilst it’s been tough, it’s been a huge learning curve and it’s actually pushed us ahead in what we hope to achieve here. I’ve always worked hard all my life and it is so important to get this back up and functioning. It’s all about achieving a goal,” Maria said.

 
 
 
The beautiful Arden is neat and functional and well thought out. The pasture is thick, fences straight, machinery functioning and the gates all swing. Cattle dogs that served their duty can look forward to domestic dotage. The cattle are the epitome of their breed.
 
It is a female response to a series of problems where intelligence and sensitivity take precedence over bravado and brawn – where good temperament is the most desired genetic trait. Things must be fit for purpose – as must people. As Betty says, ‘if you can’t do it well, don’t do it at all’.
 
I am fortunate to have spent two days spent with these incredible women; I was affected by their acuity, energy and their tireless human endeavour. However, their indomitable emotional and physical courage will leave the most lasting impression on me.

Maria Roche - a woman of great emotional and physical courage.

Maria Roche – a woman of great emotional and physical courage.

What’s Good in the Hood

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

PARRAMATTA

 
 

Welcome to the geographical centre of Sydney and a dining destination well and truly worth exploring. We merely scratched the surface of this mouthwatering melting pot where the old guard meets the new school to offer a wealth of vibrant food options.
 
Here’s What’s Good in the Parramatta Hood.

Myffy maneuvers through a manoushe on the first stop of What’s Good in the Hood Parramatta.

Myffy maneuvers through a manoushe on the first stop of What’s Good in the Hood Parramatta.

KHODER’S PIZZA CAFE & BAKERY

 

Lahme Bi Ajeen

 
This little shop churns out some of the tastiest manoushe in town – including an epic lahme bi ajeen – a traditional Lebanese lamb flatbread. Manoushe is a Lebanese street food, a type of flatbread with a pliable dough, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside – designed to be rolled up and eaten on the go.
 
A true family affair, Khoder’s is run by Khoder with the help of his mum and sister. Something of a manoushe master, his mum worked for 25 years at the competition down the road until her son and daughter opened their own shop.

Khoder's lahme bi ajeen - the perfect snack any time of the day.

Khoder’s lahme bi ajeen – the perfect snack any time of the day.

The manoush master - clocking up 30+ years making some of the city’s best manoushe.

The manoushe master – clocking up 30+ years making some of the city’s best manoushe.

Not only is the manoushe magnificent, you’ll get change from a fiver and be blessed with beautiful, warm and welcoming service.

SAHRA BY THE RIVER

 

Kibbe Nayya

 

Talal Alamein has been serving up Lebanese food at his restaurant by the Parramatta River for more than 40 years. A man with more than a few stories to tell, Talal took us through the tale of kibbe nayya – a raw lamb dish said to have aphrodisiac effects! Lamb leg is pounded by hand and mixed with a selection of herbs and spices then served with a selection of raw vegetables and Lebanese bread.
 
Talal says that in Lebanon, kibbe nayya is the sound of celebration – whenever you hear the sound of the lamb being pounded in the stone mortar and pestle, you know that something is being celebrated. Talal’s kibbe nayya was Myffy’s ‘dish of the day’ – which sounds like a cause for celebration.

Lamb kibbe nayya - rumoured to be an aphrodisiac and perfect washed down with a glass of Arak.

Lamb kibbe nayya – rumoured to be an aphrodisiac and perfect washed down with a glass of Arak.

HYDERABAD HOUSE

 

Goat Dum Biryani

 
At Hyderabad House they are passionate about their biryanis – considering them their most important menu item while also claiming to be the best biryani in Sydney.
 
Biryani is derived from the Persian words Birian which means ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj, the Persian word for rice.
 
Owner Rehan Ali tells us that the perfect biryani requires meticulously measured ingredients and careful technique. At Hyderabad House they follow the traditional method of making biryani – loading all ingredients into the pot and slow cooking over charcoal with coals also on the top. The steam retained inside the pot allows the meat to tenderise in its own juices while flavouring the rice.
 
Spices are another crucial element of a good biryani and the goat dum biryani at Hyderabad House contains more than 15 spices, three types of onion, diced goat meat, rose water and more.

Traditional doesn't alway mean beautiful - Hyderabad House’s goat dum biryani is the definition of ugly delicious.

Traditional doesn’t alway mean beautiful – Hyderabad House’s goat dum biryani is the definition of ugly delicious.

25+ ingredients including diced goat meat are cooked together using the traditional biryani method.

25+ ingredients including diced goat meat are cooked together using the traditional biryani method.

FISHBOWL

 

Brisket Bowl

 
Launched in 2016 and now with 25 stores on the go – the young team behind Fishbowl have found a sweet niche in the healthy-but-fun-fast-food-market and we’re pleased to see brisket muscling its way into the pesco party. Made to order salads built with maximum care from minimal intervention produce are what’s on offer and people are lining up for a taste.
 
We popped by the new store at Parramatta Square for 12 hour braised brisket piled high with brown rice, kale, carrots, radish, shallots and edamame with a lemon-shoyu dressing, wasabi mayo and wasabi peas – plus a scoop of avocado of course. It’s tasty, it’s nourishing and it’s the perfect lunch option for the thousands of workers in and around Parramatta Square.

Fishbowl's brisket bowl - a nutritious and delicious option at the new Parramatta Square.

Fishbowl’s brisket bowl – a nutritious and delicious option at the new Parramatta Square.

HARVEY’S HOT SANDWICHES

 

Signature Pastrami Sandwich

 

Topside wagyu is the catalyst for the Signature Pastrami Sandwich - one of the best sandwiches we have chowed in a while!

Topside wagyu is the catalyst for the Signature Pastrami Sandwich – one of the best sandwiches we have chowed in a while!

It’s American diner meets $3.2 billion Parramatta Square makeover and we aren’t mad about it. John Vissartis’ family has been in the sandwich game for 40+ years and their latest offering is all about stuffing soft subs and hitting them with some heat for a hefty hot sandwich you’re guaranteed to find room for.
 
Pull up on a stool under the neon lights while you wait for your choice of sandwich style – simple (mustard and cheese) or sloppy (russian dressing, slaw and cheese). There’s chopped brisket, Philly cheesesteak, meatball and the infamous beef dip (made famous in LA and localised by Continental CBD).

For us it was the Signature Pastrami that stole the show – sloppy of course. 2GR wagyu MS9 topside is brined for seven days with spices, salt and sugar then cold smoked and finished in a peppered rub. Generous slices are layered onto one half of a soft white sub – while the other side gets topped with provolone cheese – then it’s through the salamander for that touch of hot, melty magic.
 
Next it’s loaded with slaw, topped with Russian dressing then wrapped and in your hot little hand on its way to your hungry little mouth. Harvey’s is the hottest spot for a sanga in the hood.

That’s a wrap. Harvey’s Hot Sandwiches - where sandwich dreams come true.

That’s a wrap. Harvey’s Hot Sandwiches – where sandwich dreams come true.

CICCIABELLA

 

Rigatoni Osso Bucco Ragu

Rigatoni Osso Bucco Ragu - a dish worth devouring any day of the week, even when it's 40 degrees outside.

Rigatoni Osso Bucco Ragu – a dish worth devouring any day of the week, even when it’s 40 degrees outside.

When the don of eastern suburbs Italian dining heads west – you know it must be the hot new spot to be. Maurice Terzini’s Cicciabella, located in Bondi, has opened its second post at Parramatta Square under the guidance of group culinary director Nic Wong.
 
With an open kitchen and signature woodfired oven at its centre, Cicciabella takes its cues from classic Italian food that lets the produce do the talking.

From wagyu minute steak to a 1kg bistecca alla fiorentina, cured meats and antipasti to pizza and pasta – the menu has been designed to cater for the one-hour-lunch crowd – the square is at the base of Australia’s largest office tower – or for those looking to settle in for a the afternoon or evening.
 
We couldn’t pass up on a pasta and Nic took us through the paces of the rigatoni osso bucco ragu – handmade rigatoni tossed with braised osso bucco, tomatoes and a touch of maple syrup. Simplistic perfection at its finest.

Nic Wong - toss like a boss.

Nic Wong – toss like a boss.

LILY MU

 

Build A Bao: Char Sui Style Short Rib

 

Take a short rib, slow cook it overnight, finish over coals, plate with pickles, tamarind hoisin and bao buns - then sit back and let your guests delve into the deliciousness.

Take a short rib, slow cook it overnight, finish over coals, plate with pickles, tamarind hoisin and bao buns – then sit back and let your guests delve into the deliciousness.

Brendan Fong shows us exactly how to short rib.

Brendan Fong shows us exactly how to short rib.

Lily Mu is the new hot offering from the team behind Nour and Henrietta with ex Mr Wong head chef Brendan Fong running the kitchen. Fong says that Lily Mu is a combination of Chinese and Thai cuisines with dishes designed to share.
 
Lily Mu is a good time if ever we have seen one. For us it was a brand new dish – in fact we were the first to try it – and it was nothing short of spectacular. Short rib is slow cooked overnight then finished over charcoal, glazing with honey for a sticky, charred finish. The bone is removed and the tender, unctuous rib is sliced and served like peking duck pancakes with tamarind hoisin, pickles and bao buns.
 
Decadent, packed full of flavour and perfectly balanced – this is a dish we could go back for time and time again.

Cut Two Ways

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THE CUT

Tri Tip


 
 

The tri tip is one of the five individual muscles found in the rump primal alongside other cuts like the rump cap and rump centre. The tri tip is a small boneless cut that gets its name from its triangular shape – tender and full of flavour it can be cooked whole or sliced across the grain into steaks.

THE BUTCHER

Elke De Belder

– Origin: The Village Butchery

 
 

Origin has been operating as a wholesale business out of Botany for 13 years, supplying fine dining restaurants, pubs and foodservice venues all over Sydney. They opened their retail store The Village Butchery in Randwick in February 2019 – and that is where you will find Elke De Belder.
 

Origin has been supplying premium meat to Sydney restaurants for 13 years.

Origin has been supplying premium meat to Sydney restaurants for 13 years.

Elke graduated as a butcher in Belgium at 17.

Elke graduated as a butcher in Belgium at 17.

The young Belgium butcher packed her bags and moved to Australia in October 2019 – working stints at Vic’s Meats and Mr Baille before landing at The Village Butchery. Originally Elke wanted to be a chocolatier – she loved chocolate and figured Belgium was the best place for someone to be a chocolatier. After one year of bakery, she absolutely hated it and so moved into butchery which she decided she quite liked. She’s been in butchery ever since.
 
 
 

“In Belgium you go to Culinary School as part of high school – you don’t finish high school and then start an apprenticeship like you do in Australia. So I graduated as a butcher when I was 17, then did an extra year as a chef before fully graduating from culinary school at 18.”

 
 
 
“After that I just started working. I worked for one of the best butcheries in all of Belgium – they specialise in dry ageing and the traditional craft of butchery and deliver all over Europe. I decided I wanted to come to Australia and my boss said if I was going there then I had to go and work at Victor Churchill.”

Elke says coming to Australia opened up a new world of butchery for her.

Elke says coming to Australia opened up a new world of butchery for her.

“When I came to Australia it was like a whole new world opened up for me – everything is cut differently and named differently as well. I learned about the tri tip, this lovely little piece at the end of the rump that I had never seen before. I cooked it once when I was working at Mr Baille and it was absolutely amazing. It’s nice to learn about and promote cuts like this as a whole muscle instead of them just going in to trim.”
 
 
 

“People tell me ‘butchery is harder for females, it’s not a job for a girl’ – yes it is hard, it is physically very hard, but I get through.”

 
 
 
“In Belgium the butchers are really mean and they always pushed me and motivated me to work. I worked at Butcher’s Craft from age 17 and they always gave me every opportunity that they could and I’m really grateful for that.”

The tri tip can be cooked whole or sliced across the grain for steaks.

The tri tip can be cooked whole or sliced across the grain for steaks.

We invited two of Sydney’s top chef talents - Trisha Greentree and Jemma Whiteman - to try their hand at the tri tip.

We invited two of Sydney’s top chef talents – Trisha Greentree and Jemma Whiteman – to try their hand at the tri tip.

CHEF ONE

Jemma Whiteman

– Café Paci

 
 

Tri Tip Temaki Party

Jemma says to glaze the tri tip every minute or so with the leftover marinade - creating little charred bits which she says are the best bits.

Jemma says to glaze the tri tip every minute or so with the leftover marinade – creating little charred bits which she says are the best bits.

A seasoned visitor to Japan, Jemma’s inspiration for this dish came from missing her September trip to the culinary capital of the world due to, of course, Covid-19. So here, she creates her own version of the classic sushi hand roll temaki. Typically using fish, Jemma has subbed in marinated tri tip.
 
Tri tip is marinated in mirin, soy, sake and brown sugar then cooked over coals, basting with marinade throughout; before resting then slicing against the grain. Meanwhile, rice is cooked with sesame seeds and mushroom dashi powder.
 
Take a sheet of nori, waft it over the hot coals then load it with tender tri tip, rice, shiso leaf, fresh slices of crunchy cucumber and rhubarb cooked down with salt to mimic umeboshi.
 
A perfect share style dish – simply wrap your own cone-shaped roll and enjoy. We’re dubbing it the new taco-party and it’s a good time if ever we’ve seen one.

Tri tip temaki - the new taco-party.

Tri tip temaki – the new taco-party.

CHEF TWO

Trisha Greentree

– 10 William St & Fratelli Paradiso

 
 

Rare Tri Tip Crostino

Hot summer selection - rare tri tip and all the tasty trimmings.

Hot summer selection – rare tri tip and all the tasty trimmings.

Chefs get their inspiration from a myriad of people, places and things – for Trisha, it all begins with the weather and she always looks at the forecast before writing her weekly menus at 10 William St and Fratelli Paradiso. Being summer and all, this dish was inspired by the hot weather – and Trisha’s take on a beef tartare.
 
This particular piece of tri tip was quite lean but with plenty of texture and so perfect for a raw preparation. It is seared all over in a hot pan then placed briefly in the freezer to stop the cooking process. It is then diced and mixed with fermented chilli, chives, anchovies, pickled coriander seeds, salted shallots, salt and pepper.

Conscious of waste, Trisha advises using the beef fat trimmings for the bread – a crucial element in the deliciousness of this dish. Simply render down in the pan and then toast – lightly on one side and until crisp on the other.
 
Beef-fat-toasted Iggy’s sourdough is spread generously with confit garlic then topped with the beef mix for the perfect snack at any time of the day, on any menu, anywhere.

Snack game strong!

Snack game strong!

Young Guns

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Professional butcher and former chef Bonnie Ewan.

Professional butcher and former chef Bonnie Ewan.

CARVING HER CAREER

Bonnie Ewan

 
 
 

Bonnie Ewan is a young woman carving her way, without hesitation, through not one but two traditionally male dominated industries. The 25 year old professional butcher is 2IC at Lucas Meats in Bronte and in September 2020 was named Apprentice Butcher of the Year.

 

“Lucas Meats is one of the longest held family run businesses in the Eastern Suburbs and I am the first woman butcher to ever work here. When I started people would come in and be like ‘oh there’s a woman in here’ – they weren’t sure whether I was a butcher and just assumed I was a counter girl.”
 
 
 

“I don’t find a lot of challenges with it, I personally think women butchers have a really good eye for detail and we just seem to be a little bit more precise with things and creatively that really helps with the job. I love the customers – we have a lot of lovely locals and nice staff and it’s a very family friendly environment. I just enjoy coming to work, I find it very social.”

 
 
 
Previously a chef for seven years, Bonnie felt like she needed a change from the long hours and high stress environment. “I thought maybe since I had the knife skills that I should try something different. I met my manager at a barbecue and he asked if I wanted to come in and do a trial. So I went in at 9am the next day and I wanted to sign up immediately. I had previous skills from cheffing and just felt that it came naturally to me – and I was very good at it.”

Knife skills from cheffing were a natural fit for butchery.

Knife skills from cheffing were a natural fit for butchery.

“I’ve always worked in a male dominated industry but I found that butcher work was a lot harder for me. It’s a lot more heavy lifting, a lot more repetitive work and it just seemed to be a lot harder when I first started. But I really wanted to push through it and prove to myself that I was capable.”
 
And she has certainly proven that – and more.
 
“The Apprentice Butcher of the Year competition consisted of winning the state title against 16 other competitors before moving to the next stage to compete against all the state winners over a weekend in Terrigal. I placed first in all categories across precision cutting, theory and a live demonstration in front of 500 of the industry’s best butchers – which was nerve wracking but I was really proud of myself.”

Bonnie says that the combination of skills from cheffing and butchery gives her confidence in the creativity space while helping her better serve her customers.
 
“The thing I love about being a chef and a butcher is that I understand how to break down and cut the muscle structure and how to cook it – and why it needs to be cooked that way. It’s very helpful for me when I’m serving customers, I can recommend different cuts of meat and explain to them how to cook it and why. It’s really good for pricing options as well – you can go from a cheaper cut to a more expensive cut and I just want them to have the best result with either.”

Knowing how to cut and cook the carcase helps Bonnie better serve her customers.

Knowing how to cut and cook the carcase helps Bonnie better serve her customers.

Bonnie believes that butchery has become a lot more creative recently, something she believes that women can leverage – and that’s what she and the team at Lucas Meats are focusing on.
 
 
 

“Butchery has been around for hundreds of years but I just like to be creative and start my own ideas and recipes and to try and look at it from that perspective. I think a lot of women can be butchers, it’s a very creative and fun job and I think if you give it a go, it is just such a good experience.”

 
 
 
“Working in a butcher shop and becoming a professional butcher, it’s not for everybody but if you try it and you like it, you’d be amazed at what you can do. If you are thinking of being a butcher, don’t hesitate, just give it a go. You’d be surprised at how fun the industry actually is.”

Bonnie thinks a lot of women can be butchers - could you?

Bonnie thinks a lot of women can be butchers – could you?

For The Love Of Lamb

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In celebration of summer – we’ve collated 10 of our favourite lamb dishes cooked over fire by chefs at all types of venues.

 
From lamb neck tacos and charcoal lamb pitas to spit roasted forequarter and rotisserie loin chops – there is just something about lamb cooked over fire in summer.

Next Issue

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Next Issue

 
 

Issue 14 will hit your screens in April 2021.

 
What will we think of next?!