Issue Six Winter
With Curtis Stone,
Claudette Wilkins & more


Editor’s Letters

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There is nothing like fully immersing yourself in a sensory exploration of the flavours, textures, trends and traditions of another country’s culinary landscape. In January this year, Rare Medium took a very special trip to the USA where we were fortunate to meet with some incredibly inspiring and talented chefs – and plunge ourselves face first into cuisine-ala-Americana.

The chain-heavy USA may conjure images of hot dogs, burgers and pizzas – and that is completely justified – but it is also a country with a rich culinary history influenced by a vast and multicultural population, years of generational traditions and a wave of new world innovators.

Relive our USA adventure with us as we explore beef, lamb and goat on menus from LA to El Paso, Miami to Chicago, Phoenix to Philly – and a bunch of places in between – to bring you a healthy dose of inspiration from the home of the brave.

We catch up with one of our finest Aussie exports Curtis Stone in LA, take a Mexican themed road trip with the wonderful Claudette Wilkins and literally put our bodies on the line to taste, shoot and snap our way around the country.

Inspiration is born of many places – be they physical or emotional – and we hope that you find something that inspires you within this issue.


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

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

Guest Chef Profile

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Curtis Stone at his restaurant Maude in Beverly Hills.

He is the blue-eyed boy next door whose laid-back charm has flooded Aussie televisions for almost two decades – first with the successful ABC series Surfing the Menu, then as produce poster boy for supermarket giant Coles since 2010.
With a prolific media profile encompassing global publishing deals, regular international TV appearances, celebrity ambassadorships and his own cookware range – Curtis Stone is the epitome of the modern celebrity chef.


He also happens to be a successful restaurateur juggling not one but five restaurants – two in Los Angeles where he lives with his family and three on-board Princess Cruises. It is not lost on him that his media persona can often overshadow his chef credentials – particularly in Australia where he has never had a restaurant.


“Working as a television chef can portray a certain image of you and most people probably have a very different perspective on what my life is really like. Half the time my day starts at Gwen digging out the coals from the night before and lighting the fire or opening the door at Maude and cracking on with the guys getting ready for service.”

“When we opened Maude, people came in not expecting the food to be as good as it was. It never really bothered me to be honest, I’ve never been torn up by what people say or think. Maybe you have a bit of an ego, but in some ways, it has made me try harder. The other stuff is fun but what I love most is cooking in a restaurant – I love the craft of being a chef and it’s what I’m most proud of,” he said.

Curtis prepping his beef tartare dish at Maude.

Maude is his 24-seat restaurant in Beverly Hills. Open for five years; it was his first foray back into the restaurant world after taking a break to pursue his media career. The original concept was a 10-course degustation focused on a single ingredient that changed every month.


“Maude was kind of a selfish project really – a place where I could challenge myself and continually develop and create. Everyone had done farm to table but no one had put a single ingredient under a microscope. It was really fun, we did it for four years which is about 50 menus, it was like being on a creative treadmill, constant groundhog day – it was bloody crazy and it nearly killed me.”

Australian beef tartare on the Western Australia menu at Maude.

Over the last 12 months, the format at Maude has evolved so the creative centrepiece of the menu is now a wine region. With four menus a year, the pace has slowed a little but Stone’s commitment to the creative process has not.


“In 2018 we did Rioja, Burgundy, Central Coast of California and Piedmont and in 2019 we’ve started with Western Australia. We take a development trip to get inspired by the food, the culture and the history of the regions we feature. Basically we drink too much wine, eat too much food and then we come back and create a menu,” he said.


Gwen is Stone’s second restaurant and a collaboration with his brother Luke in the heart of Hollywood. Featuring a fully functional butcher shop and an in-house dry ageing facility – it is an ode to the craft of butchery and the art of live fire cooking.

“At Gwen we do a couple of hundred covers a night – it’s big, robust and fun with lots of energy – but it is a butcher shop first and that is the heartbeat of the place. We have six full time butchers, dry age all our beef and lamb and make our own charcuterie in-house. At lunch we serve up some incredible butchers sandwiches – house made pastrami, classic steak and meatballs to name a few.”

Butcher’s sandwiches on Gwen’s lunchtime menu – house made pastrami, steak and meatball.

One of the wood-fired grills at Gwen.

“At night it’s completely different. We roast everything from whole animals to beautiful steaks over fire including Australian grass fed, grain fed and Wagyu beef, which is something I’m really proud of. Humans have been cooking meat over a fire since the beginning of time – effectively since we found fire. It is a beautiful way to cook beef, imparting that smoky flavour into it and sometimes it turns out that the simplest things in life are the best.”


Stone says that cooking has always been his passion – he always loved to eat and how things tasted. Whilst passion plays a huge role in the success of any chef, he was fortunate to have strong mentors to inspire and guide him, first in his grandmothers and later in Marco Pierre White.

“My grannies were both instrumental in getting me into the kitchen and I was inspired from a young age watching them cook so we named the restaurants after them. Gwen was mum’s mum and Maude was Dad’s mum – Gwen was totally different to Maude and so the restaurants are too.”

He commenced his apprenticeship at 17 at the Southern Cross Hotel before moving to Europe at 22 where he started cooking for Marco – a lifelong mentor for Stone and instrumental in shaping his career.


“My first day in Marco’s kitchen was a real highlight – he was the sort of chef that led from the front and that was the most beautiful way to learn. He was in the kitchen before anyone else; he worked faster and was more precise than anyone else was. I think I was spoilt with a mentor like that and I think it has made me who I am in the kitchen.”

Butchers working in-house at Gwen in Hollywood.

“When you see someone work like that, as a young chef you just know that you’re still not there, you’ve got to push harder, you’ve got to work hard. ‘Shut your mouth and keep your head down’ was Marco’s big piece of advice – and we did, we all cracked on. With Marco, we were able to do things a little differently and it was an exciting atmosphere to work in. He taught me a lot and I am grateful for it.”

Despite the outward appearance of a seemingly shiny and at times indulgent career, Stone worked hard for his success. Driven by a strong dedication to the craft, he made his way up through the ranks of Marco’s kitchens but it was not without challenging times.


“You go through some pretty dark times as an apprentice chef but I think at the end of the day if you ultimately love what you do, you can get through it. But you’ve got to love it, otherwise you shouldn’t do it.”


“I went through tough times for sure, a few different times in fact and I actually walked away from it for a bit. I probably partied a bit harder than I needed to and looking back I was probably throwing off a bit of stress because the industry’s known for that too,” he said.

Slicing beautifully marbled bone-in ribeyes at Gwen.

Beef in the dry age cabinet at Gwen.

Now operating five restaurants of his own, his leadership reflects that of his mentors – with little established hierarchy, he strives to offer a working environment that provides opportunity for his teams to learn, teach and benefit from one another.


“I’ve worked for incredible chefs throughout my career and learnt from chefs who actually cooked and I’ve always wanted to be that for my guys. I want to be on the line with them, I don’t just want to waltz in and talk to the guests and be a businessman; I want to be a chef.”

“We treat each other fairly and with lots of respect but we work hard and are proud of that. We don’t suffer fools in our restaurants, if they don’t have the same attitude and care for what we do, they don’t last very long.”


Key to the Stone success story is his continual drive to understand and respect where produce comes from – and openly sharing that knowledge to generate awareness amongst his chefs, his front of house and his customers.

“I firmly believe that the more you understand something the better you are at cooking it. I think traceability is the biggest trend right now and the most important thing for the meat industry. Understanding where the animal came from, how it was bred, what it was fed, how old it was when it was processed – all of that stuff is really important for people to understand.”

“It is what we try and do at Gwen, it’s small and contained but it’s important. People walk in and they see a whole carcase hanging in our meat locker and we can talk to them about it – we know very clearly what happened to that animal and we can talk about its attributes. The more we demystify and the more transparent the industry is the way better off it is going to be,” he said.


For a chef whose career to date has left no stone unturned – what is next for Curtis Stone?


“I’m a dad, I’ve got two boys and I am enjoying all elements of it. I don’t want to just focus on my career and not be a good dad but I also want my kids to see that you’ve got to work hard to get good stuff in life, so I think that balance is important for me. I’m having a lot of fun doing what I’m doing and I don’t want to do a tonne more,” he concluded.

Gwen offers a range of beef through the butcher shop and restaurant.

United Tastes of America

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With more than one million foodservice venues generating USD $800 billion in sales annually – the USA restaurant industry is big business. Whilst fast food may spring to mind, it is not without merit, with over 307,000 chain restaurants dotted across the country including 14,000 McDonald’s.

However, beyond the burger and hot on the heels of the hot dog is a vibrant food scene born of cultural diversity and hundreds of years of history with no signs of slowing down at the hands of a new wave of culinary trailblazers. Here’s just a taste of the States that we experienced in our travels.

Goat head and steamy consomme at Birrieria Zaragoza in Chicago.


1. Single and ready to mingle

Taking a singular focus and executing it with absolute precision. It could be an ingredient – think Curtis Stone’s degustation menus at Maude featuring a single ingredient – or an entire concept like Chicago’s Birrieria Zaragoza where the focus is on one thing and one thing only – incredibly good goat tacos that utilise the whole goat carcase.

2. If it ain’t broke

In a world where we are constantly searching for something new – there is something romantic about the notion of tradition. Julio’s Mexican Food in El Paso maintains the original recipes from its opening in 1944 while Philippe’s in LA has been roasting, dipping and dishing out their famed French Dip sandwiches for over 100 years.

Philippe’s French Dip Sandwiches since 1918.

All you can eat BBQ Brunch at Edge Bar & Steak at the Four Seasons in Miami.

3. One meal to rule them all

Call it middle-class fancy but weekend brunch is big in the USA and it’s Bloody Mary beautiful. From weekend brunch offerings in leading restaurants to full on brunch-only concepts, an increasing number of chefs are dedicating culinary skill and creativity to brunch menus. Edge Steak & Bar at the Miami Four Seasons does an all you can eat brunch BBQ with bottomless beverage packages whilst at dedicated brunch only HunnyMilk in Portland you choose a drink, a savoury course and a sweet course for $20.

4. A little bit of history repeating

Chefs and historians are teaming up to create meals just like our ancestors used to make. At the Michelin starred D.C. eatery Plume the team developed a six-course tasting menu featuring dishes the country’s founding fathers feasted on in 1776 while Twain in Chicago serves contemporary interpretations of dishes from an extensive collection of heritage spiral-bound women’s club cookbooks.

The Surf & Turf burger at Stiltsville Fish Bar in Miami.

The Goat Birria at El Jardin.

5. Getting sentimental

While global instability and uncertainty abounds, people are looking for a little reassurance and where better than in the comfort of food. Nostalgia is playing a leading role in the development of dishes as chefs look for ways to connect the diner with their dinner. At El Jardin in San Diego, Claudette Wilkins masterfully prepares dishes that tell the stories of her Mexican heritage inspired by the matriarchal figures of her childhood. Her unique take on a birria taco from Jalisco involves marinating and smoking whole goat then wrapping it in agave leaves and slowly roasting until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. Lovingly made tortillas are then stuffed with the goat meat and served with a broth of beans, onions, coriander and lime for decadent dunking.
Chef Jeff McInnis at Root n Bone in Miami, elevates dishes from his Southern upbringing with a modern riff on Southern classics like his meatloaf made with braised short rib – while at Stiltsville Fish Bar he brings together two nostalgic favourites in Surf & Turf and a burger – with a decadent execution of a mixed cut patty and lobster tail.

6. Retail therapy

Comfort food or retail therapy? Let’s do both. Savvy retailers are using food to lure new customers and keep them in store longer. Capital One bank has dozens of bright in-branch cafes offering up locally baked goods with a side of complimentary life-coach sessions. Cinemas are replacing popcorn with fancy restaurants like iPic in Houston where the Tuck Room serves filet au poivre with your film. Even homewares stores are upping the shopping experience like Restoration Hardware in New York whose slick restaurant is serving truffle pappardelle and unrivalled city views.

All bone everything – the menu at Osso Good in LA.

7. Down to the bone

In what can double as sustainable carcase usage and no waste, chefs and retailers are finding ways to utilise bones, marrows and collagens. From a health and wellness perspective, bone broth retailer Osso Good has opened a café in LA serving up bone broth waffles and collagen smoothies. Or Nancy Silverton indulges all your senses at her latest venture where she takes theatre to the table with a meltingly memorable bone marrow pie.

8. 3D food

It’s common knowledge when travelling that you avoid the restaurants with photos of the dishes on the menu – but what if you could view the dishes in 3D before ordering? At Boston’s Backyard Betty and various other venues around the country, diners can use mobile devices to experience 360-degree views of the dishes before ordering via Snapchat and unique QR codes on the menu.

Let’s Taco-bout LA’s Food Trucks

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Fast, cheap and delicious street food has been roaming the LA streets for decades and the birth of the LA food truck is largely due to the entertainment industry and its demand for on-set cast and crew catering – bringing food to the people where they need it.


Tacos Quetzalcoatl serves up thinly sliced tequila-cured beef tacos.

In 2008, a Korean-Mexican fusion truck called Kogi BBQ and the onslaught of social media came along and completely changed the game. The novelty of Korean beef short ribs in a taco and using Twitter to serve up truck locations soon fostered a cult foodie following and food-truck-frenzy swept the city.
Like any food trend, the food truck market was soon inundated and by 2013, the novelty had all but worn off and a truck tweeting its location had become a rarity. LA had grown used to the concept of food trucks – they were everywhere and people began to realise that food trucks could just as easily come to them.

The grill at Tire Shop Taqueria – the best tacos of the tour.

Suadero (rib meat) tacos from Tacos Zone food truck.

Vampiro – tender chopped beef and guacamole in a crispy tortilla coffin.

Now, food trucks serve the same purpose they initially did – to bring food to the people – and most have the same weekly route with a regular schedule and frequent locations. Success is no longer about having the best park in the hottest location or Tweeting your location to an eager bunch of foodie thrill seekers – what makes or breaks a truck today is food quality.
There was only ever one type of food truck that we planned on tackling while in LA and that was taco trucks. The USA is obsessed with Mexican food of all types – with LA being the Mexican food capital of the country and with tacos being well tacos; we braved the traffic and spent a day on our very own taco-trail.


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Who do you take on a Mexican inspired road trip through Southern USA? Well, only the award winning, big grinning, taco-slinging matriarch herself chef Claudette Wilkins will do!


The ultimate addition to the Roadies shotgun seat – Claudette Wilkins from El Jardin in San Diego.

Mexican food has influenced American cuisine for centuries and found its way into every corner of the country. Alongside traditional Mexican, an emergence of dishes that blend Mexican with various regions, cultures and cuisines infiltrates the spectrum of foodservice outlets from fine dining to fast food and everything in between.
From Tijuana tacos to Tex-Mex, Chihuahua to chimichangas, New Mexican to Navajo tacos – we hit the road from San Diego California to El Paso Texas, by way of Mexico, to experience the magic of Mexican food and its incredible impact on American food culture.

Mexican beaded steer’s head at El Jardin – Tijuana for tacos with Claudette.

Famed for Mexican food since 1939 is ‘La Posta’ in New Mexico – Tacos + Fresca in San Diego – Tacos Al Vapour in Tucson Arizona.

French Dip Fight!

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The French Dip fight is one that spans more than a century and yet it has absolutely nothing to do with the French. Despite the historical mystique, the best part of this story is the territory over which they fight – a mighty sandwich to rule them all.

Cole’s the Originator and Philippe the Original.

French Dips on the pass at Cole’s.

The French Dip is LA’s signature sandwich with its origins fiercely contested by two historic LA venues – Philippe the Original and Cole’s French Dip. Both venues in Downtown LA opened in 1908 and both claim to have invented the sandwich in 1918. The truth about its creation is lost to history – but popular theories involve a complaint about stale bread, a police officer named French, a French roll accidentally falling into pan juices and a customer with no teeth.
History be damned, what is important is the legacy it leaves with iterations of this humble sandwich all over greater LA, California and the United States. Finally, the rest of the world might just be catching on.
What the two can agree on is that a French Dip consists of three key elements – roast meat (usually beef), bread and au jus. In an argument, it is important to hear both sides of the story – or in this case, to eat both sides of the story. Here is what we discovered.

Philippe the Original


Philippe’s casual diner feel appeals to people from all walks of life.

Philippe’s is an experience and the relentless lines of people at any time of the day are testament to its popularity. Served in what feels a bit like a rundown diner with sawdust on the floor, this unapologetically simple sandwich appeals to the masses.

They roast a whopping 500kg of grain fed bottom round every day – simply seasoned with salt, pepper and freshly ground garlic then slowly roasted with classic mirepoix. The jus is made in steam kettles with beef bones, onion, carrot, garlic, thyme, leek and salt before roasting pan juices are added and it is cooked down for 24 hours.

Double dipped French Dip – at Philippe’s they pre-dip the bread in the jus.

At Philippe’s your bread is dipped in large trays of jus at the counter instead of being served on the side. You can order single-dip (just the top bun), double-dip (bottom and top) or wet (top and bottom dipped twice). It is then topped with slices of roast beef and a choice of additions – apparently, it is sacrilegious to add anything but cheese so we choose provolone.
The house-made mustard hasn’t changed in 110 years and it packs a good amount of heat – it’s a closely guarded recipe but despite popular opinion does not contain horseradish. Its punch works a treat with the simplicity of the sandwich.
Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – and at Philippe’s it seems not much has changed in 110 odd years – and when 500kg of beef and almost 2,000 buns a day gallop out the door, you are obviously doing something right.

Simple sando satisfaction for more than 100 years.

Cole’s French Dip


Cole’s bar means you can wash down you French Dip with a French Martini. Oui oui.

A little less run-down-diner and a lot more dark-moody-bar – Cole’s gives you the opportunity to wash down your French Dip with a dirty martini and a little more decorum. 213 Hospitality Group purchased Cole’s in 2007 and reopened the iconic spot in 2008 – and in our humble opinion, their French Dip has come out fighting.

Whilst beef is the classic choice for a French Dip, at Cole’s the most popular dip, especially amongst regulars is the lamb and goat’s cheese dip – so we mix it up and go with that. Boneless lamb shoulders are rubbed with salt and green herbs then roasted for 15-20 minutes at 210C. Next, they braise for three hours in house made stock until tender and falling apart then the lamb is shredded and kept warm in its juices for service.

Constructing the popular lamb and goat’s cheese dip at Cole’s.

Economical but flavoursome roasted beef neck bones form the basis of the stock along with roasted mirepoix, tomato paste, water and red wine – then roasting juices are added for the au jus served on the side.
An overnight team prepares 300 custom baked rolls in house for the day ahead, constructed to be the perfect vessel for dipping. Spongey on the inside, they absorb the au jus while the slightly chewy crust holds the sandwich together bite by bite. No soggy sambos here.
The bread is lightly toasted then spread with goat’s cheese and piled high with the incredibly juicy, pink and tender lamb. DIY dipping allows you to choose your own sandwich adventure and adds just the right amount of novelty.
Elevated just enough to make it stand out but not so far as to make it too fancy – this was our pick of the two.

Cole’s Lamb French Dip with atomic pickle and jus on the side.

Continental CBD

Our Very Own Aussie Dip


The decadent French Dip at Continental in the Sydney CBD.

Since Continental Deli opened its CBD outpost; all anyone can talk about is the $26 French Dip sandwich. Sydney had not yet been exposed to the splendour of the French Dip – nor a $26 sandwich. Well, let us say, the hype is warranted and it is an epic introduction of the French Dip to the Aussie market. Let’s hope there are many more to come.


Continental steps it up more than a few notches, slow-roasting Rangers Valley sirloin for the perfect balance of tender pink beef and caramelised fat flavour. The beef is thinly sliced then, unlike its LA counterparts, takes a quick swim in the jus before piling on to a lightly grilled Brickfields bakery baguette.
Slices of a decadent golden wash-rind cheese from Western Australia and ribbons of sweet caramelised onion take this sandwich to new heights of French Dip heaven. The side bowl of rich roasting pan juices is big enough to dip, double dip, triple dip; hell let the sandwich take a swim in it if you like! It’s juicy, beefy brilliance on a plate and big enough to share if you dare.
Well played Continental.

Tastes of the States

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What better way to see the best beef, lamb and goat dishes a city has to offer than with a local – and when it comes to food – what better local than a chef? We hit five cities across the country – LA, Austin, Miami, Philadelphia and Chicago – delving in to an incredible variety of food to bring you a dose of inspiration ala Americana.

Los Angeles

with Guy Turland


The laid-back legend from Bondi Harvest with two cafes in Bondi is showing LA how we role with a Bondi Harvest café in Santa Monica.
Come with us for a look at the LA food scene at roof top beauty Elephante, the OG of gourmet burgers Father’s Office and Aussie owned cult classic EP & LP.

Aussie chef Guy Turland outside his Santa Monica cafe Bondi Harvest.


with Jess Pryles


Better known as the Hardcore Carnivore, Aussie export Jess calls Austin home and she knows a thing or two about barbecue. We jump in her truck, crank up the country and take down the best breakfast taco around, BBQ so good it’ll bring you to tears, a smash burger from Top Notch as featured in Dazed and Confused, and the legendary Texas dish of chicken fried steak.

Briskets smoking away merrily at Stiles Switch BBQ in Austin.


with Jeff McInnis
& Janine Booth


Dynamic duo and Top Chef alumni Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth split their time between New York and Miami at their restaurants Root n Bone and Stiltsville Fish Bar. They show us how to brunch Miami style then we take the boat, it’s Miami after all, and pull up to an island to cook up some Caribbean inspired lamb and goat.

Brunch spread at Root n Bone in Miami.


with Joe Beddia


His pizza is known as the best in America – a big call but we’re all for it! Some lucky Aussies got the chance to experience it at a Sydney pop-up with the Icebergs crew last year. Joe took time out from construction of his brand new venue to show us his Philly favourites – and yes, there was Philly cheesesteak and a whole lot more from a pastrami sandwich as big as your head to the fluffiest, creamiest lamb-topped hummus I ever did taste.

Fusion favourite – a Philly Cheesesteak Pretzel from Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.


with Liz Grossman


Ok so Liz isn’t a chef but she’s the managing editor of Plate Magazine so her handle on the Chicago food scene is more than worthy as our host. Oh my goat, we fight the -15C freeze for mind-blowingly good goat tacos, the famous Chicago deep-dish pizza, Macanese inspired fried rice, treats and eats in a beautiful food hall and a little Mediterranean magic.

Chicago the city of steakhouses.

On The Menu

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This special issue of On the Menu takes you from car park restaurants in dirty LA burbs to the glitz and glamour of the Miami Four Seasons, from healthy eating disguised as bone broth waffles to Texas classics like Franklin BBQ and chicken fried steak.
We visit beautiful people with incredible stories like South Philly Barbacoa’s Cristina Martinez and Nafeeza Ali who has been serving Caribbean classics from the back of a grocery store for more than 30 years.
From breakfast and brunch to burgers and bone marrow, pies and pizza to barbacoa and Chinese burritos – it’s a full on feast to get your creative juices flowing. What’s going on your menu next?

Beef Roll aka The Chinese Burrito


101 Noodle Express – Los Angeles


Served up in Northern Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants across greater Los Angeles, some food experts believe that the Beef Roll is a West Coast invention. Reminiscent of a burrito, it is said to be a merging of the Taiwanese tradition of fried savoury street foods and America’s love of snacking. The best in the business is found in a no-frills parking lot restaurant in Alhambra – and it certainly lived up to the hype.
Two giant foot-long rolls arrived at the table, stuffed to the brim and sliced neatly into manageable pieces. The flaky on the outside, chewy on the inside wheat pancake is buttered with a hoisin-like bean paste then rolled with loads of fresh coriander, green onion and generous lashings of paper thin ribbons of marinated slow-braised beef. The layers of salty, flaky, savoury, beefy goodness were perfection as is but loaded with the table condiments of fresh chillies and coriander and piping hot chilli oil – this tasty roll hits delicious new heights.

Bone Broth Waffles & Broffee


Osso Good – Los Angeles
Meredith Cochran

Osso Good Co-Founder Meredith Cochran has a degree in Cellular Molecular Biology and worked in hospitals for many years before deciding to focus on preventative health. She went back to school and studied Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbology where she learned about the healing benefits of bone broth. She soon began making and perfecting her own recipes at home and set up an online store and delivery service for her signature bone broth cleanses. As popularity for her all-organic homemade broths continued to grow, Meredith saw an opportunity to expand her offering and opened the Osso Good café in 2018.
The menu serves up a range of bone broth based items including paleo soups, bone broth cleanses, gluten free bone broth waffles, blendies – hot drinks made with bone broth – and collagen smoothies. Playing perfectly into the hearts, minds and waistlines of the LA lifestyle, Meredith’s concept and creative café offerings are also an excellent example of carcase utilisation and waste reduction. Whilst the Broffee, a blend of coffee and bone broth, took a little getting used to, we soon warmed up to it and the crisp-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside waffles were guilt-free decadence. Hashtag health.

Texas BBQ Plate


Franklin BBQ – Austin
Aaron Franklin

Call it a culinary rite of passage but we couldn’t go to Austin and not join the infamous Franklin queue for barbecue. Voted numerous times by various publications and outlets as the best barbecue in the world, it seemed only natural to take up place in a line that was already 25 deep at 8am on a rainy and bitterly cold winter morning. By 11am when the doors finally opened, the line was at least 100 strong – I can only imagine what it’s like in more appealing weather.
The Franklin kitchen operates 24 hours a day – the restaurant opens at 11am and is usually sold out by 2pm. They smoke 106 briskets every day – that’s an incredible 20,000kg of brisket every month – seasoned simply with salt and pepper it is smoked low and slow over a post oak wood burning fire for 12-16 hours. Aaron says that post oak gives a mellow smoky flavour but allows the flavour of the meat itself to be the hero. The pit temperature ranges from 130-160 C and generates a half inch thick pink smoke ring and a salt and pepper bark which aficionados call the ‘black gold’.
Aaron cares deeply about meat quality and uses only ethically raised and slaughtered, all-natural Angus beef which has been grass fed and grain finished. After three hours waiting in the cold, we loaded up our plastic tray and butchers paper with incredible slices of smoky brisket, crispy beef link sausages and a monster brisket sandwich. The Franklin sausages use trim from the briskets and other dishes and are generally made up of 60% brisket, 27% raw brisket fat, 10% pork butt and 3% beef heart for depth of meaty flavour. Worth the wait? Maybe. Worth the weight? Definitely.

Bone Marrow Pie


Chi Spacca – Los Angeles
Ryan DeNicola

Italian for ‘he who cleaves’ the newest addition to Nancy Silverton’s Mozza Restaurant Group has been described by various reviewers as one of the best restaurant openings in LA. Dedicated to all things meat, the restaurant houses its own charcuterie program and the menu includes a range of cuts including beef short ribs, lamb shoulder chops and the show stopping ‘bistecca fiorentina’ – a 1.5kg dry-aged bone-in ribeye.
On a cool winter night in LA, we could not go past the bone marrow pie. Based on the humble Aussie pie it attracts plenty of food-envy-eyes from around the restaurant as it comes to the table. A centrepiece designed to share, the decadent pie is filled with tender pieces of unctuous beef cheek encrusted in layers of buttery pastry. With a whole marrowbone emerging from its centre, it provides just the right amount of theatre – and as the pie cooks, the marrow slowly melts into the filling resulting in a rich gelatinous gravy.

Chicken Fried Steak


Hoovers – Austin

The chicken fried steak is a Texan classic and a merging of two of the Southern state’s favourite food pastimes – steak and fried chicken. Considered a classic Southern comfort food it is similar in style to a schnitzel and is believed to have been introduced by German and Austrian immigrants who settled in Texas in the 19th century. It was common practice during this period to use more economical cuts of meat and enhance the taste and texture with spices and breading before frying.
The inspiration for the somewhat confusing title comes from its preparation which is similar to frying chicken. Traditionally, round steak or a similar lean cut is coated in seasoned flour, dipped in egg wash, tossed in flour again and then cooked in the deep fryer. Served with a creamy white gravy and your choice of classic Southern sides like collard greens, turkey stuffing and biscuits, the dish is served everywhere from casual diners to five-star restaurants – and washes down easily with a Lone Star beer.

The Real Deal Hollyfield


Valentina’s – Austin
Miguel Vidal

They say everything is bigger in Texas and this breakfast beauty is bang on the big money and effortlessly brings together what Austin loves best – barbeque, Tex-Mex and food trucks. The Real Deal Holyfield was born when pitmaster Miguel Vidal was making huevos rancheros for his father. The classic eggy breakfast of Mexican farmers got an upgrade when he added crispy potatoes and bacon then wrapped it in a tortilla – before topping it off with a slice of brisket. Good morning sunshine.
There is sure to be a line when you reach Valentina’s food truck in South Austin but oh boy is this worth the wait. Handmade flour tortillas, made fresh daily, are cooked to order then spread with refried beans and topped with crispy fried potatoes. Next, two perfectly fried eggs and a crispy strip of bacon join the party and the whole lot is topped off with a slice of smoked brisket perfection. Finished with a drizzle of tomato serrano salsa it is most certainly the real deal, Hollyfield.

Frita Traditional


El Mago del las Fritas – Miami
Ortelio Cárdenas

Uniquely Miami this Cuban culinary staple, inspired by the American hamburger, was born when enterprising Cubans found hamburger meat too bland and so spiced up the beef patty to create their own Cuban Hamburger.
The best Cuban Hamburger in Miami is at El Mago de las Fritas where 80-year-old Ortelio Cárdenas has been making his version for more than 30 years. His secret recipe has long remained guarded – so much so that even his family members do not know it completely. Ground beef is seasoned like chorizo with spices including cumin, paprika and chilli then the bright red patty hits the grill with a spicy mojo sauce to keep it moist. It is then placed into a lightly toasted fluffy Cuban bun with lashings of house made creamy aioli spiced with ginger and topped with papas fritas – deep-fried sticks of julienned potatoes.
Served alongside bottles of Cuban hot sauce – this incredibly tasty treat is somehow not loaded with grease – one of the reasons that El Mago is universally considered the best in the business.

Lamb Cubano


Edge Steak & Bar – Miami
Aaron Brooks

Aussie boy Aaron Brooks made his way to sunny Florida to launch Edge Steak & Bar at the Miami Four Seasons in 2011. Immersing himself into the Miami culinary scene and its Latin culture, his focus is on preparing quality seasonal products and food relevant to the location while still reflecting his heritage. With numerous awards and recognitions under his belt, Aaron has been dubbed ‘the Meat Man’ and provides a range of premium grain fed, grass fed, dry aged and Wagyu beef including many Australian offerings.
It is his creative clashing of cultures and cuisines that we love like his incredible whole jerk lamb cooked slowly over coals for an Australia Day event and his take on the Miami cult dish – the Cuban Sandwich. Traditionally made with pork, Aaron gives it a down-under edge using two types of Australian lamb – slow cooked shoulder and lamb ham which is made in house as part of their incredible charcuterie program. Sandwiched between crisp Cuban bread slathered with beer mustard, oozing cheddar cheese and pickles, it is an overwhelming sell-out every time it appears on the menu.

Goat Roti Wrap aka West Indian Burrito


B&M Market & Roti Shop – Miami
Nafeeza Ali

Purchased by Sheir and Nafeeza Ali from her uncle in 1990, B&M Market is one of the first and longest running West Indian grocery stores in Miami. Located in Little Haiti and featured on the late Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, wander through the colourful exterior walls to a warm welcome and big smile from Sheir who runs the market. Meander on past the isles stacked with authentic Caribbean products to the back where you find Nafeeza hard at work in the kitchen.
For near on 30 years, Nafeeza has prepared and sold classic Caribbean favourites from a small kitchen at the back of the market including oxtail stew, jerk chicken, cow foot stew, goat curry and more. We opted for the immensely popular goat roti – or West Indian burrito. Sheir butchers whole goats on the premises then Nafeeza slowly cooks them until incredibly tender in a yellow curry of potatoes, onions, garlic, chilli and spices like turmeric. The curry goat is then wrapped in Nafeeza’s famous dhalpuri roti – a traditional Caribbean roti consisting of delicate layers of dough interspersed with yellow split pea that has been cooked, dried and ground with spices.

Salambi Pizza


Stanzione 87 – Miami
Franco Stanzione

In 2013, at just 23 years of age, Franco Stanzione opened his first restaurant – a Downtown pizzeria churning out the kind of black blistered dough that dreams are made of. His Neapolitan-style pizzas are cooked to wood-fired perfection in a 480C oven and were the first of their kind in Miami. The produce and technique driven restaurant sources all its ingredients from the best possible vendors to ensure an authentic experience.
When we visit, Franco has an Australian lamb salami pizza on the specials menu – a pizza he says is remarkably popular and a best seller whenever it hits the menu. Starting with 00 flour, Franco ferments his dough for a minimum of 72 hours then tops with San Marzano tomatoes from Mt Vesuvious, organic basil, extra virgin olive oil and homemade mozzarella to make a classic margarita pizza – then the lamb salami is thinly sliced and laid on top before hitting the piping hot oven. We were in Miami for three days and all I could think about was how I could fit in another visit to Stanzione 87 for another go at that incredible Salambi Pizza – it was just that good.

Lamb Barbacoa


South Philly Barbacoa – Philadelphia
Cristina Martinez

Cristina Martinez grew up in Capulhauc, Mexico’s barbacoa capital, and has been preparing barbacoa since she was six years old – using the same techniques passed down through her family for generations. Barbacoa uses whole lambs marinated in orange and salt – the meat, feet, stomach, entrails and head are all used. It is then cooked for eight hours in a coal pit lined with maguey leaves that infuse a bitter flavour into the lamb. It is a way of life in Mexico and a weekend tradition that Cristina yearned for but could not find in Philadelphia.
An undocumented immigrant, Cristina fled Mexico to the USA so she could provide money for her daughter’s education. She began cooking and selling barbacoa from her apartment out of necessity when she lost her job after requesting green card support from her employer. Word spread of her incredible whole lamb consommé and barbacoa tacos and soon she opened her own restaurant.
In 2016, Bon Appetit named South Philly Barbacoa one of the top 10 new restaurants in the USA and Cristina has not looked back since. The colourful, homely venue is a haven for all who enter its doors and the lamb barbacoa, still prepared using her family traditions, is an unforgettable experience. Served in foil at the table, it is incredibly tender with rich fats and collagens melted throughout but perfectly balanced from the bitter leaves and citrus. Served with hand pressed tortillas made from Mexican corn smuggled across the border, pickled chillies, onion, coriander and a range of salsas – alongside a whole lamb consume that could quite literally bring down walls – it is an experience we won’t soon forget.

Pomegranate Lamb Shoulder


Zahav – Philadelphia
Michael Solomonov

Named one on Eater’s essential 38 restaurants nationwide, this 80-seat Israeli restaurant from James Beard award winner Michael Solomonov is considered by many to be Philadelphia’s best. The creative menu ranges from moreish mezze, wood-fired flatbread and skewers of meat to the show-stopping pomegranate lamb shoulder – the dish that put Zahav on the map and its signature offering since opening 10 years ago. Whole lamb shoulder is brined overnight with spices like allspice, fennel and black pepper, then confit in chicken fat for 5-6 hours until tender enough to eat with a spoon. It is finished in a hot oven to crisp up the skin then glazed with pomegranate juice and molasses and finished with fresh mint. Served alongside crispy Persian-style yellow rice that is fragrant with turmeric, cumin and black pepper and topped with ground pistachios and plumped currents.
The restaurant goes through about 60 shoulders a week and still can’t keep up with demand – the spectacular fall apart lamb is perfectly pink and its richness contrasted by the sweet and sour punch of the pomegranate glaze. We agree it is indeed essential and should rank high on everyone’s food bucket list.

Italian Market Breakfast


High Street on Market – Philadelphia

A casual yet sophisticated trifecta of restaurant, café and bakery – High St on Market serves up inventive pastries and breakfasts then transitions into twists on classic sandwich combinations served on house-baked artisan bread for lunch and market-driven dishes for dinner. The Italian Market Breakfast leaves you wanting for nothing – two perfect sunny side up fried eggs, folds of bitter broccoli rabe and crispy fried potatoes are just the beginning of your breakfast dreams.
Sweet bologna is a Lancaster County staple – a region west of Philadelphia – and just one taste will have you hooked on its sweet smoky flavour. At High St Market, the grass fed Lancaster Bologna is sweet cured with brown sugar then smoked over apple wood. Sliced thicker than traditional bologna and lightly grilled it is the perfect sweet, salty, smoky breakfast plate accompaniment.

Hot Pastrami Sandwich


Fourth St Delicatessen – Philadelphia

Since 1923 this delicatessen on a local street corner has been a Philadelphia institution and photos of celebrities, presidents and sports stars line its walls. This gargantuan sandwich is what you might call big on quantity – but it sure does over index in the quality stakes as well. $30 might seem a bit rich for a sandwich but when it’s offering up 450g of delicious pastrami beef stuffed into soft rye bread, it’s really worth it.
The sandwich is piled so high with salubrious slices of peppery pastrami that you genuinely struggle to get your laughing-gear around it. But persevere you must. The pastrami is made in house using whole briskets that are brined then steamed for several hours allowing the fat to melt into the meat. The beef is then rolled in a secret house pastrami spice mix and smoked to finish. Sliced and served hot on house-baked rye bread, this sandwich literally glistens with goodness and you don’t need to add a single thing because the basics are done to perfection.

Goat Tacos


Birriera Zaragoza – Chicago
Jonathan Zaragoza

This unassuming family-run Mexican restaurant could quite possibly have served up our favourite dish of the trip. Here they do one thing and they do it exceptionally well – birria tatemada – which translates roughly to roasted goat. Juan Zaragoza opened the restaurant in 2007 to fulfil a fierce yearning for the food of his childhood in Jalisco Mexico. His son Jonathan now heads up the kitchen where he butchers and prepares whole goats in house. The goat is broken down, rubbed all over with salt and steamed for up to five hours, then marinated in an ancho-based red mole and roasted.
For service, the goat is plated and dressed with a perfectly balanced tomato-based consommé and served with a stack of hand-pressed corn tortillas made in-house and an array of condiments including coriander, onion, salsa roja, roasted chillies and lime. The exquisite combination of tender flavoursome goat meat, decadent consommé and house-made tortillas is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. I’m already looking for cheap flights back to Chicago.

Sloppy Marrow


Twain – Chicago
Tim Graham

Twain is inspired by the famous Missourian Mark Twain and celebrates the history of Midwestern cuisine. The stunning warehouse space features a colourful mural depicting the abundance of the Mississippi river and produce of the region. Owned and operated by husband and wife team – executive chef Tim Graham and sommelier Rebekah Graham – the restaurant pays homage to Tim’s upbringing in Missouri and serves contemporary interpretations of classic comfort dishes with inspiration from an extensive collection of heritage spiral-bound women’s club cookbooks.
The Sloppy Marrow dish reimagines the classic cafeteria favourite of ground beef, onions, tomato sauce, Worcestershire and other seasonings on a white bun. It is believed the Sloppy Joe originated in Iowa in the 1930s and was the creation of a cook named Joe. At Twain, Tim steps up the theatre and the taste with rich umami packed beef mince loaded into a roasted marrowbone and served on a toasted slice of white bread. The dish brings together comforting familiarity with elevated flavours and a nod to tradition – and finishing the dish with a whiskey shot through the marrowbone makes for a messy good time!

Images thanks to Ally Straussner.

The Fulton Burger


Swift & Sons – Chicago
Chris Pandel

Executive Chef Chris Pandel heads up the kitchen at four Chicago venues including Swift & Sons, Cold Storage, Dutch & Doc’s and the forthcoming Cira. At Swift & Sons the menu reflects his focus on high quality, locally sourced ingredients with an elevated twist on steakhouse classics. The swoon-worthy Fulton Burger is the result of a full day taste-testing 12 different burgers from the Swift & Sons chef team. The pan seared, 280-gram peppercorn crusted patty is comprised of a blend of Wagyu riblets, chuck, short ribs and A5 Wagyu fat. Served on a brioche bun with red onion jam, Worcestershire aioli and watercress, it is a burger to brag about. Let’s not forget the cheese – an award winning semi-soft washed rind made from raw Jersey milk and aged for approximately three months. Its mild funkiness and sweet nuttiness pairs perfectly and melts like magic across the crispy charred outside of the perfectly pink patty.
You can’t travel to the other side of the world to visit a steakhouse and not try the steak! At Swift & Sons locally sourced beef is grass fed for 24 months and then corn finished for 90 days. Steaks are seasoned overnight with salt and pepper to allow the salt time to penetrate beyond the exterior and provide a fuller beef flavour. We opted for a 600-gram bone in ribeye that comes with a range of classic sauce options of which we decided on the oxtail marmalade. A three-day preparation, oxtails are cleaned and cured overnight then seared in beef fat and braised for 12 hours with mirepoix and veal stock. Finally, they are picked clean and the meat combined with pureed mirepoix and a syrup made from the reduced braising liquid resulting in a sweet and savoury marmalade.

Two Aussie Stars in LA

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Wandering through Hollywood, you might be keeping your eyes peeled for a glimpse of some of our greatest Aussie exports – Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts?! More likely is that you’ll spot a couple of other Aussie legends making it big in the city of dreams – the humble meat pie and classic steak sanga.


It goes to show just how popular these classic menu items are and how easily they resonate with people all around the world – and right here at home. Under the tutelage of Curtis Stone, Colombian born chef Juan Rendon gives Gwen diners the chance to bite into a little piece of Australiana – and takes the time to show us how it’s done.

Juan Rendon

Chef de Cuisine
Gwen – Hollywood




Steak Sandwich

Is there anything more delicious between two slices of bread than succulent slices of flavoursome steak? The steak sandwich has been a mainstay on menus for good reason – because it’s so damn delicious. You can keep it simple or tart it up and as long as you’ve got the basics right, you really can’t go wrong.
At Gwen, sirloin steak is grilled over coals for about 90 seconds each side imparting a delicious smokiness to the steak which is then rested and sliced. Red onions and mushrooms are cooked down really slowly to bring out their natural sweetness and earthiness. Ciabatta bread is brushed with garlic butter and grilled over the coals then spread with a herb aioli of tarragon, chives and coriander. Finished with watercress dressed in red wine vinaigrette, this steak sandwich brings together smoky umami with sweet, earthy elements, herbaceous freshness and slight acidity – all nestled together in textural Ciabatta bread.

Beef Pie


If there is anything that can give steak in bread a run for its money – than it might just be soft decadent chunks of beef encased in perfect pastry. Much like the steak sandwich – you can make your pie as simple or as sensational as you like – as long as you’ve got the key elements covered, the pie-in-the-sky’s the limit.
At Gwen they keep it fairly classic – brisket and beef cheek are slowly braised until tender with mushrooms, carrots, celery, potatoes, garlic and beef stock. A pie dough made with lard, duck fat and plain flour is chilled then pre baked with rice weights until browned. The beef filling is then added and topped with the pastry lid, brushed with egg wash and baked until golden. Served piping hot with tomato sauce – naturally.

Fast Facts

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Fast Facts

The USA restaurant industry employs 15.1 million people

The USA imports 6% of its total beef supply, 24% of which is Australian - and 72% of its total sheepmeat supply, 74% of which is Australian

The USA is Australia’s largest export market for lamb and goat and our second largest export market for beef

Chipotle is one of the biggest foodservice users of Australian chilled grassfed beef in the USA

The United States is the largest consumer of beef globally

Next Issue

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Next issue is all about lamb and so who better than Kiwi boy Peter Gunn from Ides in Melbourne to come along for the ride?!