Issue Twenty LET’S
With Claudette Zepeda,
Nagesh Seethiah,
Ross Magnaye and more


Editor’s Letter

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When it comes to food, there’s always a reason to celebrate – and with this being our TWENTIETH ISSUE we are feeling particularly celebratory!


The festive season is snapping at our heels and it is always the busiest time of the year for foodservice with long lunches, work events, Christmas parties, New Year’s celebrations – any excuse really to indulge in some world-class hospitality at venues across the country.
In this issue I wanted to explore what celebrations looked like in a range of cultures and cuisines and one thing is clearly evident; food is almost always at the centre of celebrations – from the cooking through to the consumption, it is about coming together to share experiences and connect.
It’s memories of New Year’s Day in Mauritius that come to the fore when Pat Nourse chats with Nagesh Seethiah at his restaurant Manze in North Melbourne. Pat writes – “New Year’s day is big in Mauritius, bigger than Christmas Day, and a big celebration called for a goat or two, with the families making a day of it and everyone pitching in to cook every part of it.” Read more about Nagesh, Manze and celebrating Mauritian style in Pat’s People Places Plates section.
Meanwhile Mark Best explores The Taco-lypse – Australia has well and truly hit its stride in the taco-stakes, evolving from Old El Paso tex-mex to taqueria pop-ups in the Rocks from acclaimed Mexican American chef Claudette Zepeda. Mexican culture embraces celebration perhaps like no other, as Claudette says “Mexico is a nation of immigrants and their ingredients, and I think we are programmed to share and celebrate our similarities and differences.” There ain’t no party like a taco party and in this story Mark seeks out some of the best tacos in Sydney.
Auburn in Sydney’s inner west is a suburb quite unlike any other and Myffy Rigby explores its incredibly diverse cuisines with relish in this episode of What’s Good in the Hood. From Lebanese breakfast to Turkish mix plates; Uyghur meat pies to Afghani dumplings; East African platters to Peranakan curries – it’s a celebratory smorgasbord like no other.
Ross Magnaye tells me that to him, food has always been part of family and that the Filipino way of celebrating is always heavily centred around food. Magnaye is taking his Filipino heritage and sharing it with the world at Serai in Melbourne’s CBD – you can expect loud music, happy people, natural wines and modern Australian food with Filipino twists. If anyone can throw a party, it’s Ross Magnaye – read all about it in my Young Guns section.
Did you know October is Goatober? Well now you do. We teamed up with chefs Ibrahim Kasif, formerly of Turkish favourite Stanbuli and now head chef at Beau; and restaurateur and former Masterchef star Minoli De Silva of Ella in Darwin – for our Cut Two Ways section – and you guessed it, they are cooking goat. Be inspired to give goat a go with these two deliciously different dishes.
Until 2023 – be safe, be well and keep being inspired by Australian beef, lamb and goat.

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


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


People Places Plates

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Nagesh Seethiah


Nagesh Seethiah outside his restaurant Manze in North Melbourne.

Nagesh Seethiah outside his restaurant Manzé in North Melbourne

“I’ve been thinking about goat,” says Nagesh Seethiah. Specifically, he’s been thinking about New Year’s Day in Mauritius, when he was growing up.

The whole family would get together with several other families at his maternal grandmother’s place in Cottage, on the northern side of the island. New Year’s is big in Mauritius, bigger than Christmas, and a big celebration called for a goat or two, with the families making a day of it, everyone pitching in to cook every part of it.
“For lunch, you’d have all the cuts that are easy to cook quickly, including the offal, and then we’d break down and set aside the cuts that need longer cooking, like the legs and the shoulders, for dinner.” Seethiah’s mum, Canta, liked to take charge of lunch, the specialty being a dish called cari endan, or ‘inside curry’. “Each piece of offal would get sliced separately, the heart, the liver, marinated in lots of ginger and garlic, chillies, salt, and some of my grandma’s masala,” says Seethiah. “It’s quite a light, bright sort of masala, with cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon really prominent in it.”

Goat leg and liver at Manzé - Nagesh recalls New Year’s Day in Mauritius as a big celebration that called for a goat or two and cooking every part of it.

Goat leg and liver at Manzé – Nagesh recalls New Year’s Day in Mauritius as a big celebration that called for a goat or two and cooking every part of it

Let’s pause here for a moment for a word on Mauritius and its food. Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the coast of east Africa, 1,100km east of Madagascar. The island is small – about the size of Maui, or a 30th of the size of Tasmania – and when it was first discovered by Arab sailors around the year 975, it was uninhabited. The Dutch took possession in 1598, then the French took over in 1715, before losing it to the English in 1810, and it remained a primarily plantation-based colony of the United Kingdom until independence in 1968.
Under French rule the population was made up largely of enslaved peoples from Mozambique, Madagascar and Zanzibar, brought over to work the plantations, while British owners of sugarcane estates brought in indentured workers and soldiers from India. Today Mauritius is a developed democracy with a culturally diverse population. It’s the only country in Africa where Hinduism is the majority religion; school is taught in French and English, and most people speak Mauritian Creole at home.
In the kitchen, the influences of Indian, Creole, French and Hakka Chinese traditions come together. Rice and bread are staples, and daubes, patisserie, dim sum and spring rolls share space in the national cuisine with biryanis, curries, and other Indian and Tamil dishes. That daube has evolved in the centuries since French occupation to feature plenty of ginger and green chilli along with the thyme and tomatoes, and will more likely be made with lamb or chicken instead of the beef you’d see in Provence.

At Manzé, the restaurant and wine bar Seethiah opened in North Melbourne in 2021, the set menu might open with poutou, a fluffy steamed rice and coconut cake descended from southern India’s puttu, served here topped with a coconut chutney and pickled beetroot, alongside gram boulli, “boiled chickpeas” with chilli, and a golden fritter of sprouting broccoli with hot sauce.
“It’s about framing what’s available to us with Mauritian flavours,” says Seethiah. Filling a samosa with cauliflower, for example, rather than the traditional potato and pea curry, puréeing the stalks so it’s got that starchy base, and then putting raw romanesco through it.

“My food is really just pulling on those threads of flavour from our childhood and adapting them to the ingredients we have here.”

Seethiah makes a superb broth, coaxing worlds of flavour from the likes of Malabar spinach and ginger, or okra, choko and tomato – often using ingredients grown for Manzé. This might be followed by a daube of wild venison or a grilled fish. Lamb is a regular feature of his menus; blackened rump fragrant with masala, perhaps, showered with ribbons of sorrel.
“We’ve also grilled saddle of goat at Manzé, marinating it on the bone, treating it like lamb, and that was really good,” he says. A sear on the fire and then a slow smoke, and taking it to the same pinkness of lamb: delicious. “We’ve served goat cutlets at our pop-ups, too, with lots of pepper, and they taste very similar to lamb. Tastier, even.”

At Manzé, Nagesh frames local and seasonal produce with Mauritian flavours.

At Manzé, Nagesh frames local and seasonal produce with Mauritian flavours

The thing that perhaps keeps more people from cooking goat is its gaminess, Seethiah reckons, and that little bit of extra chew. “But I think for our application, where we can lean on strong marinades and spices, it works really well. I don’t find goat that far a step from lamb, really.”
Back on the island on New Year’s Day, meanwhile, the goat offal has been marinating in spices and aromats, and it’s time to cook. Nagesh’s mum stir-fries the offal over a wok burner in the outside kitchen. It’s a dry, quite spice-heavy stir-fry, south-Indian style, with plenty of onion.
“Everyone sits down to eat this lunch of quite spicy offal, and then we go pretty much straight into it from lunch, setting up again, breaking down the rest of the goat and setting things up for a longer cook – a braise, really saucy curries, and that’s where the neck and the shoulder and leg come into play.”

Goat at Manzé is prepared with strong marinades and spices - here goat leg is rubbed in Masala spices and cooked over coals.

Goat at Manzé is prepared with strong marinades and spices – here goat leg is rubbed in Masala spices and cooked over coals

There’s a salad of cucumber and chilli on the table with some green mango through it, and the day is peppered with little fried things and other snacks. “Chilli bites, which are almost like a falafel mix made of split peas, with fried chilli and spring onion through it. Someone will have gone fishing and there’ll be vindaye, which is something like fish pickled in turmeric and mustard.
Seethiah ran a play on the New Year celebration for one of the pop-ups he did at Rockwell and Sons in Collingwood, braising the leg and shoulder of a goat overnight, and then grilling the liver and the heart before folding them through the shredded meat and the sauce, all over a base of shallots, ginger, garlic, lots of little Thai chillies and curry leaves. “We cooked off the base fresh for each plate,” he says.

“That was probably one of the most intense nights of cooking I’ve ever had – so hot and spicy every time you’re facing the stove, but so delicious.”

This was quite a while ago – three or four years, perhaps – and it’s useful to understand that Manzé existed as an idea and a series of pop-ups long before it settled into a bricks-and-mortar site. Seethiah is only 29 – young, perhaps, to be a restaurant owner – yet his path to being a restaurateur and heading a kitchen of his own hasn’t been perfectly linear, and cooking food from Mauritius was by no means always part of the plan.

Goat offal is marinated in spices and aromats then cooked hot and fast.

Goat offal is marinated in spices and aromats then cooked hot and fast

Nagesh Seethiah was born in northern Mauritius. His parents, Ram and Canta, moved the family to New Zealand when he was eight, to a hobby farm in Coatesville, just outside Auckland. They ran a few sheep and cows on the property and lots of chickens, grew their own vegetables and did a home-kill of a beast once or twice a year.
Seethiah didn’t know what he wanted to do when he finished high school, other than take his BMX and do a tour of the South Island, but he had a cousin studying at the ANU, so, with his parents’ encouragement, he moved to Canberra to study law and art history.
Australia gave Seethiah his first taste of hospitality life. He worked at Lonsdale Street Roasters in Braddon and at Stand by Me in Lyons, where he made the move from front-of-house to the kitchen. At Bar Rochford he worked under Ian Poy, a Noma alumnus, and then with Louis Couttoupes, a former public servant fresh from a stint at Au Passage in Paris, studying all the while. “I went to my graduation that year, had lunch with my parents and my partner, Sabrina, and then went straight back to do service at Bar Rochford.”
At the time, by his own estimation, he had no idea what he was doing. “I shouldn’t have been put in charge of a kitchen in my second ever cooking job, but Nick, the owner, was very trusting,” he says “I’ve come to learn, running my own venue, that a lot of the time you’re making this stuff up as you go along.”
The next year Sabrina landed a great job in Melbourne, and she and Seethiah made the move to Victoria. “We moved here on a Friday and I was working on the floor at Belles Hot Chicken in Fitzroy on the Monday.” The two years he spent working the floor at Anchovy, Thi Le and Jia-Yen Lee’s restaurant in Richmond, was a key inspiration. “I learned a lot there,” he says. “About making things from scratch. About Thi’s approach to cooking the food of her heritage. The way she gives that food the same or more attention, care and detail that we’re expected to put into other cuisines.”

Smoked goat leg and Manzé house masala.

Smoked goat leg and Manzé house masala

Let’s pull focus here for a moment: what is it about the food of Mauritius, say, or Vietnam, that could make it seem less deserving of attention than Italian, for example, or French food? “In our cultures we treat food as sustenance, it’s something that’s done at home,” Seethiah says.

“We acknowledge that our mothers are good cooks, but we don’t place a lot of value on learning to cook that food, or on food having cultural value. It’s about spending time in our careers caring so much about other people’s food, and then flipping the script and treating our own food that way. Seeing that our food deserves as much attention and detail, with ingredients and a price-point to match.”

There’s challenges here. Even Seethiah’s parents aren’t entirely used to the idea of the food of Mauritius as restaurant cuisine. “They support it, but they don’t quite see the point.” Then there’s the Mauritian people who come into Manzé and tell him that what he’s cooking is too expensive and isn’t really Mauritian food. There’s also the guy on the internet who likes to say that what Seethiah is doing is inauthentic, a joke, and that he shouldn’t be doing what he’s doing – a curious charge to lay against a chef born and bred on the island.

Memories of Mauritius - goat gets the Nagesh touch at Manzé.

Memories of Mauritius – goat gets the Nagesh touch at Manzé

But there’s also the Mauritians who visit Manzé and delight in seeing the flavours they grew up with presented in a new light. “We had a couple come in a few weeks ago, maybe a bit older than I am, and they said, ‘we don’t know you, but we’re so proud of you, thank you for doing this’. That made me think, well, some people might not like it, but there is value in this.”
This is food Seethiah learned to cook from his mum and his dad, and from his grandmother. It’s a conversation in progress. “I’ll be on the phone to Mum on a Monday, saying, hey, I’m thinking of doing this. Mum will say, ‘that won’t work’, and then I’ll do it anyway, and then she’ll come in a few weeks later, try it, and say, ‘oh wow, that’s good’.

Stir fried goat liver with cumin and curry leaf at Manzé.

Stir fried goat liver with cumin and curry leaf at Manzé

For Nagesh Seethiah, the feeling that he’s on the right track comes most powerfully when he’s at the stove and suddenly feels transported from the restaurant kitchen in North Melbourne back to being eight years old again in Mauritius.

“I feel a really intense wave of nostalgia, and I suddenly feel really proud. I think, this is it: this is what we’re chasing. Scaling that up, and feeding 150 people a week with that feeling – that’s when it feels right.”



Spotlight On

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You may have noticed that Mexican cuisine is on trend.
In a few short years we have moved from Old El Paso starter kits to supermarket shelves stocking tomatillo salsa and corn tortillas. The change, while slow to start, has rapidly gained momentum through the perfect storm of Mexican immigration and a deeper consumer appreciation of Mexican culinary culture through travel, TV and social media.
The late great Pulitzer Prize winning food writer Jonathon Gold gained a reputation as the bard of the taco truck, helping to articulate the cult of taco making and eating in ways few had before. Gold firmly believed that “in a taco there is, per square inch, more deliciousness per second than there is almost anything in the world.”

Rosa Cienfuegos was born in Mexico City and arrived in Australia in 2009. Like many new immigrants, the thing she missed most was the food. She was surprised to find how little Mexican food was available, and how different everything was.
“Many in the Mexican community here in Sydney would call me and ask me to prepare certain dishes for them. Eventually, so many people were asking for their favourites, especially my tamales, that I started running pop-up events in my home until that became so busy, I opened Tamaleria and Mexican Deli in Dulwich Hill,” Cienfuegos said.
While her Mexican deli stocks most of the ingredients she previously missed, it is her handmade tortillas that show Mexican cuisine is the essence of its own immigrant story and continues to be as adaptable as it is delicious.
“You can just eat whatever with a tortilla. Sometimes, my group of friends will go to a Vietnamese restaurant and order the crispy chicken and they let us BYO tortillas – with a few herbs and some avocado – we have tacos,” Cienfuegos said.

Lamb shoulder barbacoa at Carbón in Bondi.

Lamb shoulder barbacoa at Carbón in Bondi

As managing editor for SBS Food, Farah Celjo has been tracking the cultural shift and the evolution of attitude towards Mexican cuisine.
“Tacos are a choose-your-own-adventure vehicle now. The way cuisines are accessible within mainstream supermarkets, I think, plays a huge part in accessibility and understanding. I would say that there has been an important and significant shift around Mexican cuisine being more than tacos and burritos, which is what we have come to know or think of as the core.”

“Mole, tamales and pozole are also coming to life and we are quickly learning that we had a Tex-Mex knowledge of the cuisine rather than the deeper cornerstones of what else corn and beans can do,” Celijo said.

The Mexican wave shows no signs of slowing and whilst understanding of the broader cuisine may be evolving – it is the humble taco that has come into its own at venues around Sydney. With the arrival of star chef Claudette Zepeda and her pop-up Taqueria Zepeda to Sydney’s historic Rocks area – it appears the taco-party is only just getting started.

Corn tortillas made fresh every day at Esteban in Sydney CBD.

Corn tortillas made fresh every day at Esteban in Sydney CBD

The San Diego-based chef, known for her fearless culinary style and bold approach to regional Mexican cuisine, is bringing her signature Mexican flavours and dishes to Playfair Street with a taco-focused menu that draws from the country’s seven major regions and her ‘6 Horseman of the Taco-lypse’ being Asada (grilled beef), Lengua (confit beef tongue), Al Pastor (pork on spit), Gringa or Mulita (cheese and meat taco), Vegetable (cactus or potato), and Carnitas (crispy pork confit).
Zepeda grew up on the border city of San Diego with an American father and a Mexican mother – living between Mexico and America. She was a young, single, working mother which fully informs her approach to her work and her desire to do something for young women in a similar position. In 2019 she founded Viva La Vida, establishing micro businesses with single mothers throughout Mexico’s seven regions to import their heirloom ingredients, previously unavailable in the U.S – helping Mexican women support their families without sacrificing their safety and helping them break from generational poverty.

Mexican American chef Claudette Zepeda has brought Tijuana style tacos to Sydney at Taqueria Zepeda in The Rocks.

Mexican American chef Claudette Zepeda has brought Tijuana style tacos to Sydney at Taqueria Zepeda in The Rocks.


“I am a first generation Mexican American. I was born in San Diego raised in Tijuana and Guadalajara, so I think that experience gave me really good tools as a professional chef.
Both regions are incredibly culturally rich in their cuisine, history, and flavour profiles – they are very, very distinct. I grew up eating in the taquerias around Tijuana and I am bringing this style to Sydney.”


At Taqueria Zepeda, corn tortillas are pressed and grilled fresh daily then filled with the likes of beef tongue and chile morita tomatillo; sirloin steak with avocado mash; or Tijuana-style adobada with charred pineapple.
“There are also costras de queso or cheese crusts – a fried cheese dish that’s like a Mexican take on dosa. We imported a palette of masa harina (flour) which cost about $3,000 not including freight so we are not playing around,” Zepeda said.
For Zepeda, who has always dreamed of having a restaurant in Australia, Taqueria Zepeda is a chance to give people an insight into her culture and cuisine.
“I would love for people to understand that we’re giving them just this tiny little glimpse of what we eat at home. But that it’s just a part of this whole giant, beautiful culinary Pandora’s box. Mexico is a nation of immigrants and their ingredients, and I think we are programmed to share and celebrate our similarities and differences.”
“What came of it is really beautiful food and it is at the heart of all the things we celebrate. We celebrate our pain, and we celebrate our good fortune. There are very few cultures that love death as much as us because we are so alive.”

Asada – sirloin steak with avocado mash at Taqueria Zepeda.

Asada – sirloin steak with avocado mash at Taqueria Zepeda


“We don’t know when our last day on earth is going to be, but we know that it’s going to be a really good damn meal and we know that we’re going to break bread with our friends,” Zepeda said.


Lengua – beef tongue with chile morita tomatillo at Taqueria Zepeda.

Lengua – beef tongue with chile morita tomatillo at Taqueria Zepeda

Chef Toby Wilson came to Mexican cuisine through his travels – once eating 30 tacos in a day purely in the name of research. Wilson schooled himself in the diverse arts of Mexican cuisine through YouTube and eating at taquerias, roadside stalls and food trucks. Starting his own wheeled taqueria some years ago he now has permanent digs in Chippendale at Rico’s Tacos where he puts out plates like beef barbacoa with arbol chill salsa – a braise of beef chuck and an adobo of ancho chiles and spices.
As I stood eating a delicious, thinly sliced, prime sirloin ‘carne asada’ with pico de gallo, avocado and a Veracruz influenced black garlic salsa macha – Wilson explained the appeal of the taco.

“I think a lot of the flavours inherent to Mexican cuisine are flavours we’re already familiar with, especially the ingredients of Southeast Asia.”


Rico’s carne asada.

Rico’s carne asada

“There’s a hell of a lot more Mexican head chefs than there were when I first started cooking tacos seven years ago, which isn’t really that long. I think it’s kind of having a moment globally, not just here. The trend is more driven by social media and to some degree, the influence of Noma’s Tulum Beach pop up and influential chefs like Enrique Olvera,” Wilson said.
In a country that is long familiar with delicious things wrapped in pastry it is little wonder we have taken to the maize and wheat flour wrapped delights of regional Mexico. It’s one thing to ride a wave, but for Sydney’s Mexican cooks, it’s been a long journey to see their cuisine gain wider recognition and status.

Milpa Collective’s executive chef Jorge Alcala.

Milpa Collective’s executive chef Jorge Alcala

Jorge Alcala is the executive chef of Milpa Collective’s group of eight mostly Mexican themed restaurants and bars spread around the Sydney CBD, inner east, and Bondi. Carbón, located on Bondi Road, focuses on woodfired dishes from the Argentine parrilla (grill) to bring some South American accents to their Mescal fuelled regional Mexican offering.
Here you can take a build-your-own approach with mains like lamb shoulder barbacoa – wrapped in banana leaf and cooked for six hours with beer, chipotle, chilli, and cinnamon; or Wagyu scotch fillet steak, chimichurri, smoked paprika, grilled jalapeño and black salt – served with bottomless baskets of tortillas.

Build-your-own taco – wagyu scotch fillet, chimichurri, smoked paprika, grilled jalapeno and black salt at Carbón.

Build-your-own taco – wagyu scotch fillet, chimichurri, smoked paprika, grilled jalapeno and black salt at Carbón

Chef Alvaro Valenzuella arrived in Australia in 2017 opening Chula Mexican Restaurant in Potts Point before going on to the Lebanese styled Bedouin restaurant (which is not a leap of logic if you know the history of lamb shawarma brought by Lebanese immigrants to regional Mexico) before bringing the regional influences of Hidalgo and Jalisco to Bodega 1904 at Glebe’s Tram Shed precinct.
Valenzuella cooks lamb shoulder to falling off the bone unctuousness in a heady broth of ancho, guajillo, pasilla and mulato chilies for his version of barbacoa. His beef biria is a revelation – rotating between beef shank and the more gelatinous cheek, Valenzuella uses guajillo, ancho pepper and cinnamon to flavour his now one year old mother stock.

Bodega 1904 chef Alvaro Valenzuella.

Bodega 1904 chef Alvaro Valenzuella

Esteban, hidden in a tiny lane off George Street in Sydney’s CBD, is another sending out that magic formula on house made corn tortilla; meats cooked over coal, herbs, salt and salsa. Think slow braised beef shin barbacoa with tomatillo salsa, red onion, coriander, or lamb shoulder cooked sous vide overnight, finished on the grill and served with smoked salsa roja, white onion, avocado and cactus purée.
The word taco comes from the Aztec word ‘tlahco’ which means half or in the middle – referring to the way a tortilla is folded with the fillings in the middle. It appears Australia is in the middle of a taco-lypse – a revelation I am happy to get behind.

Esteban’s lamb shoulder with smoked salsa roja, white onion, avocado and cactus puree.

Esteban’s lamb shoulder with smoked salsa roja, white onion, avocado and cactus puree


What’s Good in the Hood

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No area in Sydney quite vibrates the way Auburn does.

It’s an incredibly diverse suburb with flavours and cuisine styles flipping from street to street, and country to country from Afghanistan to Lebanon, East Africa and Northwest China.

Myffy in Auburn for What’s Good in the Hood.

Myffy in Auburn for What’s Good in the Hood

There’s a rich tapestry of snacking to discover here to be sure, and the best way to tackle it is one restaurant at a time to do each of these places justice. Or damn it all, jump right in and make a weekend of it. It’s less than 10 clicks from the CBD and a world away in terms of deliciousness.
Dig in.


22 Civic Road
Lebanese breakfast: the only way to fly for long-brunch enthusiasts. And when it comes to excellent bang for buck, look no further than this Auburn institution.

Camera worthy Lebanese breakfast at Jasmin 1

Camera worthy Lebanese breakfast at Jasmin 1

Strap in for scrambled eggs, the bottom fried till crisp, the top all fluffy and golden. Pinkie-sized lamb sausages are spiced and coated in pomegranate molasses. Crunchy falafels (some of the best in the area) are perfect fodder for dipping into smooth, creamy hummus and garlicky yoghurt. Shanklish (a middle eastern cheese made from yoghurt whey) is rubbed in tomato and perfect to be sandwich inside pieces of soft Lebanese flat bread. Or use that bread as a vessel for fatteh – crisp bread strips, yoghurt sauce and chickpeas.
Hot tip: whatever you don’t get through at breakfast makes an excellent dinner, or supplementary next-day-breakfast.

Spiced lamb sausages coated in pomegranate molasses

Spiced lamb sausages coated in pomegranate molasses


4/6-10 Harrow Road
Traditional Somali, Ethiopian and Sudanese dishes and Arabanian cuisine meet here at this modest cafe on a quiet side street of Auburn.
Try bariis mansaf – slow roasted lamb that sighs off the bone served with a sort of pilaf, gently spiced, and accompanied by chilli relish. Many of the dishes are served with their own style of flatbread, to be used instead of cutlery.

Excellent East African eats can be found at Salam Cafe & Restaurant

Excellent East African eats can be found at Salam Cafe & Restaurant

Suqaar sees tender cubes of lamb, slow-cooked with onion and capsicum, scooped up with japati (charred flatbread) and then there’s the enjera – a giant, mauve fermented crepe made from teff (the flour is made from a particular type of Ethiopian grass – great news for the gluten free gang) covered in pickles, ferments and pulses with a deeply rich lamb curry taking centre stage.
Work your way through by breaking off pieces of the crepe and dipping with abandon.

Ethiopian enjera - fermented crepe with pickles, ferments and lamb curry

Ethiopian enjera – fermented crepe with pickles, ferments and lamb curry


64 Auburn Road
Fifth generation Afghani recipes, passed down from family member to family member are just one of the reasons this is such a special place.
Another is the fact your mantu (Afghan dumplings, soft and yielding and filled with beef and onions, topped with yoghurt, beef mince and crisped up split peas) may just be served by some of the lethal hands in hospitality. Chef-restaurateur Mujtaba Ashrafi is also a black belt in Shinkyokushin – full contact karate – and has his own martial arts school in Silverwater.
Back to the snacks, qaboli pallaw sees lamb fall off the bone and served alongside a huge mound of spiced, jewelled basmati rice bedazzled with strands of candied carrot, pistachios, almond slivers and raisins.

Mujtaba Ashrafi at his restaurant Khaybar & Myffy enjoying tastes of Afghanistan in down-town Auburn

Mujtaba Ashrafi at his restaurant Khaybar & Myffy enjoying tastes of Afghanistan in down-town Auburn


139 Parramatta Road
Nonya, or Peranakan cuisine, a mix of indo-Chinese and Malaysian dishes, is what’s for lunch here.
Blending the techniques and ingredients of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and China, you’ll find nonya-style laksa, the spicy coconut soup laden with vermicelli and hokkein noodles, and that Singaporean street food classic, char kway teow – the flat, silken noodles fragrant with the breath of the wok.

Owner Sam is an expert on Peranakan cuisine

Owner Sam is an expert on Peranakan cuisine

Beef rendang curry is cooked down to mere shreds, the coconut-based sauce deeply savoury and fragrant with cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Scoop it up with light, tissue-y roti. In fact, order two serves of that bread and apply the same tactic to a gentle lamb curry packed with waxy potato pieces.
For a fairly unromantic strip of Parramatta Road, there are some incredible flavours on display here, hidden in plain sight.

Beef Rendang - made for scooping with roti

Beef Rendang – made for scooping with roti


105 Rawson Street
In a suburb that’s spoiled for choice when it comes to seriously excellent eats, Tarim stands out. And not just for the fact there are very few Uyghur restaurants in Sydney.
Always delicious, the food of this Turkic-Chinese minority group from the far northwestern province of Xinjiang is pure comfort.

Kuruh Lagman – long noodles dry fried with diced lamb, chives, capsicums and Sichuan pepper

Kuruh Lagman – long noodles dry fried with diced lamb, chives, capsicums and Sichuan pepper

Hand-pulled noodles combine the toastiness of dry chilli and the cooling fizz of Sichuan peppercorns with tender little pieces of lamb. And then there’s the goshnan – the Uyghur equivalent of a meat pie, the flaky, golden pastry holding sliced lamb and onion. One to share with mates.

Goshan - Uyghur style meat pie with minced lamb and onion filling seasoned with cumin and a variety of peppers

Goshan – Uyghur style meat pie with minced lamb and onion filling seasoned with cumin and a variety of peppers


15 Auburn Road
You’ll smell it before you see it. And if you go for dinner on a Friday night you’ll see the queue before you see the shopfront. But make a day trip and be rewarded with a shorter queue and the entire menu at your disposal.
Here at this Turkish stalwart, it’s all about the mixed plate, the meats cooked over charcoal, leaving everything wonderfully charred and perfumed with smoke.

Make a date with a mixed plate

Make a date with a mixed plate

Beef mince is spiced, shaped and flattened onto skewers ready to be licked by flames. Hunks of lamb are given the same treatment, with everything laid over buttered rice with a side of charred vegetables.
Dip those grilled meats into house-made chilli sauce and hummus, and scoop it all up with toasted slices of Turkish bread.

Meat cooked over coals at New Star Kebab

Meat cooked over coals at New Star Kebab


Shop 1/3-5 Station Road
No trip to Auburn is complete without a visit to Gaziantep Sweets for their Turkish delight, sticky baklava, pistachio rolls and Turkish ice-cream.

Turkish sweets and treats

Turkish sweets and treats.

There’s knafeh – that sweet cheese dessert of buttery spun pastry (kataifi) soaked in sugar syrup and layered with cheese. And, my personal favourite, havuc dilimi – a sort of giant baklava slice that’s split and filled with ice-cream and topped with crushed pistachio. A huge treat.

Baklava filled with Turkish ice-cream and topped with crushed pistachio

Baklava filled with Turkish ice-cream and topped with crushed pistachio

Cut Two Ways

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Goatmeat is a highly nutritious source of protein and with no associated religious or cultural restrictions, is consumed by around 63 percent of the world’s population.

In Australia, it is a niche protein with only about nine percent of goat production consumed domestically – while the remaining 90 percent is exported to destinations around the world.
Australians generally lack familiarity with goatmeat and how to prepare it – however our rich tapestry of cultures and cuisines offer a wealth of inspiration and delicious ways to give goat a go.

Boneless goat leg, shin and marrow

Boneless goat leg, shin and marrow

We teamed up with chefs Ibrahim Kasif, formerly of Turkish favourite Stanbuli and now head chef at Beau; and restaurateur and former Masterchef star Minoli De Silva of Ella in Darwin – to show us the way to go with goat.
Beautiful goat shin, boneless leg and marrow from the Gourmet Goat Lady were sourced via Emilio’s Butchery in Rozelle NSW for this shoot.


Minoli De Silva

Ella By Minoli


Jaggery Goat Curry

Sri Lankan born and Melbourne raised, Minoli confesses to being obsessed with food – and it shows.
The Masterchef alumni (two times over) trained and worked as an Engineer but has finally realised her dream, opening her first restaurant Ella in Darwin. Focused on seasonal produce, modern cooking techniques and the deep, rich flavours of Minoli’s Sri Lankan heritage – Ella is a journey of flavour, fun and finesse.
Right off the bat, Minoli was up for the Goat Two Ways challenge – her dish of choice – a Jaggery Goat Curry with her signature Roti. Jaggery is an unrefined sugar product made using traditional methods of pressing and distilling palm or cane juice, the colour ranges from light golden to dark brown due to the retention of molasses.

Minoli De Silva

Minoli De Silva

“This curry incorporates a lot of what is important to Sri Lankan cuisine – the range of spices from fresh to dark roasted curry powders; to using three parts of the coconut including water, milk and cream – and finally, time. The goat is so full of flavour and when you just let time do its work, all the spices get absorbed into the meat and the marrow adds an incredible richness. You can’t beat the flavour.”
“This goat curry dish is perfect for a special occasion – there is a lot of effort that goes into making it but so much reward. You sit around with the whole family or group of friends and eat everything – everyone uses their hands, breaking off all parts of the meat and sucking marrow from the bone, it’s a really special experience.”
“The other thing I would say is that this dish is a great way for people who may not have tried goat before to give it a go – everything is made to go together and the result is a meltingly delicious dish that you can’t stop eating,” Minoli said.


Ibrahim Kasif



Goat Kusbasili Pide

The closing of Stanbuli earlier this year was a dagger in the heart to all that had the pleasure of dining at the hands of chef and owner Ibrahim Kasif. The Turkish restaurant in Sydney’s Inner West punched well above its weight – a representation of Ibby’s culture and heritage and a decadent introduction to Turkish food beyond dips and kebabs.
Sydneysiders can breathe a sigh of relief that access to Ibby’s delicious food is still on the cards as he moves to head up Nomad’s new brother restaurant Beau in Surry Hills. In the meantime, try your hand at his delicious goat pide – trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
“This goat pide is made in the style of ‘Kusbasili Pide’ which weirdly translates to Bird’s Head Pide. It’s a type of Turkish flat bread made in a boat shape with finely textured meat, not minced but hand cut finely for texture. It’s great for entertaining, fun to eat and something different from goat curries.”

Ibrahim Kasif

Ibrahim Kasif

“Traditionally you will find this type of Pide in Turkish kebab shops that specialise in pide – they would normally use lamb and sometimes beef but for me the goat leg has great versatility, and you can use a bit of the fat to chop through it as well to help bind everything together. It’s a great introductory way of eating goat if you’ve never had it before.”
“I chose to use the goat leg for its flavour and because it’s got a great amount of meat that you can finely cut to suit this dish. It’s a really interactive dish that is great for parties because you can have a few boats ready to go into the oven as you need them – then chop them up and hand them around as they come out hot and fresh.”
“It’s something that isn’t too confronting for people that have never had goat – you’ve got really beautiful flavours that compliment it; spices and simple ingredients like tomatoes and peppers that work really well with the goat,” Ibrahim said.


Young Guns

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The Beastie Boys rallied party people everywhere with the line “you’ve gotta fight for your right to party”. Fortunately for you, me, and anyone else with an inclination for good food and good times; chef Ross Magnaye has fought the restaurant status quo and given us Serai – and it’s a heck of a party.

At Serai, which means palace, Magnaye’s rockstar chef status is immediately evident. It might be his calm confidence amidst the chaos of service; maybe it’s the tattoos, chains, and slicked back hair; or perhaps the lingering guests kitchen-side waiting to sneak a photo with the man on the pans.
Whatever it is, it works.

The room is a smorgasbord for the senses. There are the block-rockin-beats that pulse into your seat, the hypnotic dance of flame inside the hearth, and the accompanying swell of tempting smells that permeate the air. It’s entrancing – and we haven’t even got to the taste part.
Magnaye’s background is Filipino-Spanish, and he grew up eating the traditional foods of his heritage. From his mum’s home cooking in suburban Melbourne – he counts her as perhaps his biggest influence; to family trips to the Philippines to visit relatives, Filipino flavours are embedded into his being.

“My background is Filipino-Spanish, but I grew up in Australia. My business partners (Shane Stafford and Ben Waters) aren’t Filipino, but what unites us is a love for eating, drinking and partying. At Serai we don’t pretend to be something that we are not, we do what we do, and it just makes sense.”

“For me, food has always been part of family – it’s a very Filipino thing. My grandma used to have a restaurant overseas and amazing food has always been the centre of many celebrations and parties. Everything is about food, drinks and getting together – and that’s what we try and replicate here at Serai,” Magnaye said.

Serai – Filipino flavours over fire

Serai – Filipino flavours over fire

Magnaye started cooking at 17, attending cooking school and working around Melbourne before heading overseas to stage as restaurants in Brazil, Thailand and Spain. On return to Australia, he took up post as head chef at Rice Paper Scissors where he stayed for five years.
“I left Rice Paper Scissors pre-Covid to head to Paris to open a wine bar – then Covid hit and it didn’t happen. I was pretty depressed and then an opportunity came up to go to Bulgaria, cooking beachside in Eastern Europe – it was amazing.”
“I was in Bulgaria and Shane contacted me to say he’d found this spot and that he wanted me to come back and open a restaurant. I said no because I was having the best time, it was European summer and I wasn’t ready to leave. He kept harassing me and by the time winter came around I was ready to come home,” Magnaye said.
Stafford and Magnaye had previously worked together at Rice Paper Scissors, but Ross had his doubts when he first saw the space, an old ice cream shop in a drab laneway in Melbourne’s CBD.

Ross outside Serai in Melbourne CBD

Ross outside Serai in Melbourne CBD

“I arrived here to look at the space and I was like; nah it looks shit. But then we spoke more, and I suggested we do modern Australian but with Filipino influences. Everything in the woodfire, minimum intervention wines and some fun cocktails with Filipino twists – and that’s how it started.”

“If you are Filipino, you come to Serai and obviously the dishes are not traditional, the most important thing is that when you try it, it reminds you of your childhood, it’s all about nostalgia. If you’re not Filipino and it’s the first time you’ve tried the flavours – then hopefully it’s something delicious,” Magnaye said.

So, about that food.
“I want people to leave here knowing that yes it’s Filipino food but at the end of the day its Modern Australian and what we want to do is highlight modern Australian produce by adding a Filipino twist and influence.”
Take for example the wagyu short rib ‘bistek’.

Wagyu short rib ‘Bistek’ with burnt onion jam and salted duck emulsion

Wagyu short rib ‘Bistek’ with burnt onion jam and salted duck emulsion

“Bistek is Filipino for beef steak and this dish is based on a traditional Filipino beef stir fry that is topped with fried onion and served with rice and a fried egg. Our Serai twist is the wagyu short rib served with a burnt onion jam and salted duck emulsion.”
“The onion is caramelised in the woodfire and blended with coconut, vinegar and soy; and the duck egg emulsion is like a hollandaise. We use the bone from the rib and reduce it down to make the sauce adding Don Papa Rum which is a Filipino rum. It’s not a traditional representation of the dish but when you eat it, all those flavours are there,” Magnaye explains.
And then, there’s the Gippsland lamb ribs with sticky ‘adobo’ sauce.
“Adobo is normally a chicken stew in the Philippines and it’s probably the most popular Filipino dish. Our twist is lamb ribs from Gippsland that are cooked in a master stock then smoked in the woodfire and served with adobo sauce. We make a glaze with the sauce and brush the lamb with it then finish with black pepper, coriander seed and garlic crumb on top to give it texture.”

Lamb ribs with sticky ‘adobo’ sauce

Lamb ribs with sticky ‘adobo’ sauce

For Magnaye, Serai is a platform to share Filipino flavours and culture – to bring together everything he loves while throwing off the constraints of what people think a restaurant ‘should’ be.
“I don’t want people to think dining should be pretentious – it should be fun and accessible to everyone. We want you to come here and have a good time, when people remember Serai, I want them to remember fun, tasty food, and amazing staff. That’s the most important thing.”

“Filipinos are very generous and kind, even if they don’t have a lot of money, they still invite their neighbours to come and share their food. For me, that is the best love language, sharing food with everyone. I think it is super important and that is the culture I am trying to represent here.”

“I love working with people and that’s the most rewarding part – our staff, customers, and all our producers and suppliers. The Filipino community that comes in and supports the restaurant, they are proud that we are representing the culture and for me that is very heart-warming,” Magnaye said.


Big Business

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In this section, we explore some of the country’s biggest foodservice operators – plating up thousands of meals every day from the seas to the skies and everywhere in between.



Finding a reason to celebrate these days is almost too easy, and our calendars are packed with more and more occasions to do so.

There’s cultural holidays and celebrations like Easter, Eid, Christmas and Diwali; and colourful festivities such as Chinese New Year, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Then come the commercial celebrations like Valentines’ Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – nestled amongst things like Halloween, Christmas in July, Cinque de Mayo, St Patrick’s Day and Grand Final Day.
Which brings us to the ‘day of’ days – the brainchildren of marketers everywhere – if you Google it, you’ll probably find it. There’s International Taco Day; International Meatball Day; World Sourdough Day, International Grilled Cheese Day; International Spaghetti Day; International Margarita Day; International Hummus Day; International Hamburger Day; National Vegemite Day; World BBQ Day; International French Fries Day; World Pasta Day and International Sandwich Day – and the list goes on.

Goatober raises awareness of and familiarity with goat meat during the month of October – here Ibrahim Kasif prepares a goat pide

Goatober raises awareness of and familiarity with goat meat during the month of October – here Ibrahim Kasif prepares a goat pide

Some find themselves thinking that a mere day won’t do justice – and so we start leaking into weeks and months – take for example International Curry Week; Australian Gin Week; World Iron Awareness Week; National Beef Steak Month; Oktoberfest – and my personal favourite, Goatober.
While much of this marketing melee may seem like a bit of a gimmick – there are real opportunities for foodservice operators to identify relevant days, weeks or even months to leverage consumer awareness and drive sales through venue and menu specials.
Casual Australian dining chain Rashay’s was founded in 1998 by Rami Ykmour and Shannon Smith. From humble beginnings in Liverpool, the business now operates 35 venues across Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales, serving 120,000 customers a week.
The company is passionate about produce and uses only MSA-Graded Australian beef and lamb – utilising up to 10 tonnes weekly across their outlets. A dedicated team of six butchers inspects all meat coming into the business to guarantee quality with top menu sellers including the MSA 120-day-grain-fed sirloin and 450-day-grain-fed Black Label wagyu scotch fillet.

Rashay’s veal schnitzel promotion for National Schnitzel Day

Rashay’s veal schnitzel promotion for National Schnitzel Day

This year, Rashay’s partnered with Australian Veal to leverage National Schnitzel Day on 9 September and feature a veal schnitzel on its national menu for the month of September.

“The Rashay’s veal schnitzel promotion was an opportunity for us to introduce a new cut to our menu and more importantly to support Australian farmers – we went through a tonne of veal over the three-week period of the promotion.”

“The promotion utilised veal leg that was freshly prepared and crumbed to order in each venue and served with chips and signature mushroom sauce,” said Ykmour.

The Brisbane Broncos Burger promotion ran at 112 ALH venues during NRL finals

The Brisbane Broncos Burger promotion ran at 112 ALH venues during NRL finals

The Australian Football League (AFL) and the National Rugby League (NRL) finals are played across two adjacent long weekends in Victoria and New South Wales in late September and early October – and are another opportunity worth considering when contemplating menu specials and promotions.
Whilst the Brisbane Broncos didn’t make this year’s NRL Grand Final, it didn’t stop hotel group ALH from leveraging footy finals fever and fan sub-culture in the state of Queensland. In partnership with the Brisbane Broncos and Australian Beef, ALH ran a promotion exclusively through their 112 Queensland venues during the month of NRL Finals from 1st September to 2nd October.
The promotion consisted of a $20 Brisbane Broncos Beef Burger comprising an 100 percent Australian beef pattie, cheese, beetroot, pickles, tomato, fried egg, lettuce, mustard and mayo – and sold almost 25,000 units over the promotional period.

Something venues Australia wide can get on board with is the Summer Lamb Campaign – the release of the award-winning lamb advertisement every January is hotly anticipated, its provocation and satire seeing it reach millions while ultimately driving lamb sales for Australian lamb farmers over the summer period.
The Summer Lamb Campaign is an opportune time for foodservice businesses to harness the momentum of a nationwide media campaign designed to drive awareness of lamb as our national meat – with their own in venue specials and promotions using Australian lamb.
What’s your plan for 2023 Summer Lamb?


Next Issue

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Next Issue


Issue 21 drops January 2023 – new year, new you?

Rest assured we’ll still be here bringing you all the best red meat goodness from paddock to plate.
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