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Editor’s Letter

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Editor’s
Letter

 
 

Issue 25 takes us to the Sunshine State, and more specifically, to the booming beauty that is Brisbane.

 
 

Australia’s third largest city has long held a reputation as a big country town – and whilst that sentiment still rings true in the friendliness of its people and its iconic weatherboard houses, when it comes to food, Brisbane is beating down the door of its southern sisters.
 
In Pat’s Picks, Pat Nourse chats with Ben Williamson – partner and executive chef of Brisbane hospitality group Anyday. Williamson is a driving force behind Brisbane’s culinary coming-of-age, with six successful venues under his watch, including the acclaimed Agnes – the 2023 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year; only the second Queensland venue to ever take the title.
 
In Best Practice, Mark Best takes the humble hamburger to new heights with his grass-fed, mature-aged wagyu brisket burger, sourced from Queensland wagyu producers and served at the Lobby Bar of the covetable Calile Hotel in Fortitude Valley. Burgers continue to be big business in the Australian foodservice market, raking in $8.2 billion in revenue last year and are predicted to continue growth in the coming years.
 
For What’s Good in the Hood, Myffy Rigby discovers the parallels of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley – once renowned for clubbing and late-night shenanigans (and still very much so), the suburb has emerged also as a destination for some of the country’s best dining, upmarket boutique shopping, and bustling bars. It’s here Myffy finds her “steak of the year” at a brand-new venue and plenty of delicious dining to keep you fuelled for a night in the Valley.
 
Hot Plates, our spotlight on the coolest dishes around the country, shines a light on two Newfarm venues. Brand new Bosco is an all woodfired wonder and the custom-made kitchen is turning out some fabulous food including a stunning steak for our Hot Plate. Over at Allonda, it’s the artistically plated lamb rump, so colourful and eye catching that it is almost too pretty to eat, that takes out our lamb Hot Plate.
 
In Tasty Meats we head to Howard Smith Wharves for a tutorial on the crowd favourite lamb shoulder at Greca – did you even eat at Greca if you didn’t order the lamb shoulder?! We think not. Next up its Paddington where a cozy neighbourhood Italian restaurant is churning out some of the best pizza in town – to be precise, it’s actually some of the best pizza in the world. In 2023, chef Stefano Spataro attended the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy where he competed against 450 of the world’s best pizza makers, finishing number 97 in the world and number 1 in Australia.
 
And finally, our second iteration of Red Meat Eats is here for all your red meat inspiration needs. A visual feast giving you an insight into the hottest and coolest red meat dishes trending on menus around the country.
 
 

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

 

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

Pat’s Picks

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Chef Ben Williamson at Agnes

Chef Ben Williamson at Agnes

Ben Williamson doesn’t mind a curve ball. That could be in the big picture or right in the details. He’s executive chef across the six venues of Anyday, the Brisbane hospitality group of which he’s also a partner, which makes him arguably the biggest name in Australia’s third-largest city.

 
 
But his path here was not exactly the usual. Bahrain was a key twist in the plot. Williamson had cooked his way out of his hometown of Perth and onto the eastern seaboard, but when he left Australia, it wasn’t for Europe or Asia or the Americas, but the Middle East. He took a job with Gulf Air and spent a few years based in Bahrain. Landing back in Australia, he worked at top-shelf Brisbane venues Enoteca 1889 and Urbane before heading a kitchen of his own.
 
Gerard’s Bistro, which opened in 2012, was an instant hit, and it was the flavours of the Middle East and North Africa, as interpreted by Williamson, that gave it its sparkle – lamb shoulder with pickled chillies and garlic yoghurt presented on a big round of crisp flatbread, for example, or poached hapuka with caramelised tahini and crunchy sea succulents. Ben Williamson made his name in Australia cooking Middle Eastern food, and then… stopped. Mostly. Sort of.

The open kitchen at Agnes gives diners a front row seat to fire cooking

The open kitchen at Agnes gives diners a front row seat to fire cooking

“After seven years cooking Middle Eastern, I needed a change of pace,” he said. Agnes was the result. While it might sound a bit like it’s part of the trend and tradition of naming restaurants for people’s mums and nannas, in this case it’s the name of the street.
 
It’s a low-key little stretch of Fortitude Valley that’s a mix of 19th century terraces and light industrial, and that history gives the brick warehouse its design cues. Words like “broody” and “dark” come up a lot in the reviews, an effect produced in part by the exposed brick, render and girders, steel detailing and raw concrete, all picked out with quietly careful lighting and a (very) restrained colour palette. One review referred to the “feudal firepit spirit” of the room and its Game of Thrones vibe, “albeit with less slaughter and more great wine”.

Westholme T-bones take their turn on the wood-fired grill

Westholme T-bones take their turn on the wood-fired grill

Fire brings the drama. There’s no electricity used for cooking in the Agnes kitchen, and no gas. Everything that is cooked is cooked on the grill, the hearth and in the wood-fired oven, all in full view of diners. And the diners love it. Williamson led Agnes to take out the national Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year in August 2023. No small feat when you consider the only other time a Queensland restaurant took out that particular gong was 26 years ago.
 
Making the choice to jump into working with fire was the right move, Williamson reckons. “There’s a clear style for the customer to grasp easily, concept-wise, but it doesn’t limit the ingredients you can work with or the dishes.” In practical terms, that means you might not just find XO sauce and ’nduja on the same menu, but even on the same plate. There’s mackerel soy with the yellowfin tuna, while the bread-and-butter cabbage is complemented by burnt corn oil and whipped ricotta. “Basically, if it makes sense to cook it with fire, then it’s for us, he says, “just as long as it makes sense in the context of the rest of the menu.”

Beef tartare meets beef-fat toast

Beef tartare meets beef-fat toast

One day the beef tartare is laced with the tang of soured cream and anchovy, all laid over beef-fat toast, another day that same beef and sour-cream combo might be offset by hazelnuts, sweet peppers and arabushi – shavings of smoked skipjack tuna. Wagyu from local label Westholme shows up sometimes as a T-bone, simply grilled and served with house mustard and confit garlic, or the flap plated up with sourdough hollandaise, roasted onions.
 
And though it’s not a Middle Eastern restaurant by any stretch, once those skills and flavours are things you’ve got a feeling for, why wouldn’t you put them to use? So, you’ll also find things at Agnes like smoked potato flatbread offered with ricotta, burnt onions and isot, one of the lesser-seen Turkish chilli peppers. It might not be precisely from one Middle Eastern culture or another, meanwhile, but you can see echoes of the region in the duck Williamson roasts, first coating it with a glaze of orange and honey and then serving it on a bed of prunes and smoked onions.

Lamb ribs from the Agnes smoker – a menu main stay from day one

Lamb ribs from the Agnes smoker – a menu main stay from day one

Prod Williamson for a favourite, and he’s reluctant to name just one, but some regulars come up. “We’ve been producing ribs of lamb from the smoker since day one in different iterations – originally a rib served on the bone with a take on a Vietnamese caramel-fish sauce dressing with mountain pepper and spicy herbs through to ribs off the bone with a hot vinaigrette made of the bones, sherry vinegar, olive brine, green peppercorns, dried orange skins and star anise. Whenever we take it off it’s put back on by demand.”
 
Even when it’s not explicitly mentioned on the menu, the Middle East remains a key inspiration, not least when it comes to cooking meat. “Nobody cooks lamb like Arab cooks, for me,” Williamson says. “The whole goats and lambs rendered to pull apart, juicy and pure, propped up on massive trays of saffron and almond basmati for the Iftar banquets at the end of Ramadan for Eid al-Fitr from my time in Bahrain is one of my fondest memories and I’ve tried nothing like it since. But there’s also the simplicity of a lamb cutlet, brined in onion juice and simply coal-grilled with garlic, sumac and lemon – that’s something I miss dearly.”

Lamb sweetbreads, tonnato sauce, pickled cucumbers, peppers and curry leaves

Lamb sweetbreads, tonnato sauce, pickled cucumbers, peppers and curry leaves

Then there’s the lamb sweetbreads. Shish taouk was the original inspiration here, but rather than chicken, we’re looking at lamb, and in place of fillet we’re talking the tastiest of the glands. “I like lamb sweetbreads even better than veal,” Williamson says.
 
He marinates them in onion brine spiked with fenugreek leaves and turmeric. They’re skewered, then cooked over the coals, slathered with toum and lemon juice. To serve, Williamson lays them over a tonnato sauce, then piles on salty-sharp pickled cucumbers, peppers and curry leaves. Not something you’ll see in downtown Bahrain or Beirut, but no less delicious for it. “It’s a cultural mash-up that works brilliantly for us.”

 
 

Editor’s Letter

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Editor’s
Letter

 
 

The humble sandwich takes centre stage for our summer issue – and what better way to celebrate summer than with a sandwich?! Make ahead, pack for picnics, bring to the beach or roll out a platter for a party – they really are the ultimate finger food.


 
 
The wonderful thing about the sandwich is its ability to transcend the sector – from high end venues (hello Ester’s blood sausage sanga and Fleet’s veal schnitty sanga) to your local corner store and café. And almost every country has a version – from shawarma to souvlaki, kebabs to katsu, banh mi to bocadillos, po boys to paninis, hoagies to hamburgers, tortas to toasties, and the list goes on.
 
In Pat’s Picks, Pat explores the origins of the Italian Beef Sandwich – a Chicago culinary icon depicted in the hit Disney + series The Bear. Australia’s adaption of American sandwiches is well established – so why the lack of delicious Italian Beefs on the menu? Sandwich legends Hector’s Deli show us their version – all pickley, juicy, beefy goodness. Come on Australia, bring us more of THE BEEF.
 
Mark Best argues the case for getting back to basics and realising the opportunities of sub-primaling lamb legs in house for his Best Practice column. Then, he fires up the hibachi to grill up the ultimate Summer Lamb Silverside Sando – and, as usual, Mr Best does not disappoint.
 
For What’s Good in the Hood Myffy Rigby explores the ultimate Australian Summer destination – the iconic Bondi Beach. Absolutely buzzing with incredible food options – we pick some of our favourites to showcase – a culmination of old and new, iconic and evolving – and all very, very delicious.
 
Hot Plates showcases some of the coolest red meat dishes around the country and this time hinterland hot spot The Eltham Hotel and Adelaide’s number 1 restaurant Botanic step into the spotlight, Now, whilst not strictly a sandwich – mopping up your plate with a puffy Yorkshire pudding is a pretty good alternative.
 
In Tasty Meats we’re back on the sandwich bandwagon – to Melbourne we go to visit the pita palace that is Miznon, where fall apart lamb ribs are stuffed into fluffy white pita with all the trimmings. And then back to Sydney to the local’s lounge room Chester White who’s take on a bruschetta is not what you’d expect it to be.
 
Sandwiches are the star of the show in venues everywhere – and a summer staple where the possibilities are endless. There really is no limit to the flavours and cuisines you can jam between some bread – but the best place to start of course is with beautiful Australian beef and lamb.
 
 

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

 

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

Editor’s Letter

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Editor’s Letter

For our 23rd issue of Rare Medium – I thought it was time to mix things up a bit. Same incredible contributors with some shiny new sections – but as always, showcasing the very best red meat in the business.

 
 
In Pat’s Picks, Pat Nourse takes us on a deep dive into a dish, and first up to Pat’s plate? The mighty shawarma. It might be controversial, but we love a little shawarma drama, could the greatest of them all be Paul Farag’s lamb neck version at Aalia?
 
Mark Best puts his best foot forward in Best Practice – and who better than to teach us a thing or two? First up its braising – Bestie’s hints, tips and tricks for better braising, and a recipe for Beef Daube to boot.
 
Myffy Rigby keeps us informed about the best places to eat around the country with her wondrous What’s Good in the Hood – and this time it is the incredible Adelaide Hills that gets the Rigby round up.
 
Two fun new sections are getting a start this issue – and I hope you enjoy absorbing them as much as I enjoyed producing them.
 
Hot Plates is a showcase of the coolest red meat dishes from the hottest venues around the country and in our first iteration it’s all about juicy whole cuts and licks of flaming fire – Arkhe’s roast picanha and Clam Bar’s Barnsley chop are a rollicking place to start.
 
20 Buck Bangers explores the tastiest red meat eats and treats for 20 bucks or less – because, you know, inflation and all that jazz. An oozing pastrami sandwich from Kosta’s Takeaway and a luscious lamb skewer from Fugazzi – shut up and take my money.
 
This issue we also introduce our Red Meat Eats video – a finger-on-the-pulse look at the top five red meat trends in venues around the country. Keep an eye out for the next update in February 2024.
 
So, sit back, relax, and let the red meat do the talking.
 
 

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

 

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

 

Best Practice

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Clam Bar’s $35 cheese & bacon burger

Clam Bar’s $35 cheese & bacon burger

BURGERS

 
 

In the dynamic landscape of the Australian beef industry the humble hamburger occupies a significant position both culturally and economically.
 
According to IBISWorld Research, annual burger revenue has grown to $8.9 billion, and is expected to continue expanding over the next few years.

 
 
The hamburger market in Australia encompasses all levels and categories of foodservice – from a drive through fast-food staple, to cult US burger giant Five Guys (that sold 1,000 burgers a day in their opening week), and as best sellers on some of the finest tables in our dining scene.
 
The burger at Clam Bar, which burst onto the scene in Sydney’s CBD in 2023, has already made waves in part due to its hefty 250gm grass-fed patty and the accompanying $35 price tag. Meanwhile, in 2022 McDonalds Australia purchased 38 million kilograms of Australian beef for their 100% Aussie beef burgers.

Industry stalwart Neil Perry, who established some of the best restaurant beef programs in the country, has long championed the burger as a vehicle to showcase the quality and diversity of some of Australia’s best beef producers. Perry’s ambition to “make one of the world’s best burgers” was given a hefty head start using prime dry-aged trim from the David Blackmore herd.
 
“We were going through four Blackmore carcases a month (at Rockpool Bar & Grill) through primal grill cuts, secondary braises and the dry-aged trim for the burgers. Our customers were drawn to quality, and we were selling 300-350 burgers a week,” Perry said.
 
Burger patties have primarily utilised commodity ground beef, however there is growing interest from chefs and consumers in understanding more intricately the source of what they are cooking and eating.
 
For producers, it represents an opportunity to tap into a market that values quality and provenance at an affordable price point. It’s a finely tuned balancing act to meet consumer expectations of quality, sustainability and price – and one that Australian beef producers are striving to achieve through innovation, adaption and adoption.
 
The demand for high-quality, sustainably sourced beef burgers is not just a passing trend but a reflection of changing consumer preferences and a deeper appreciation for the provenance of food.

Raph Rashid’s burger at Juanita Peaches ticks all the burger boxes

Raph Rashid’s burger at Juanita Peaches ticks all the burger boxes

In a previous issue of Rare Medium, I discussed how enterprises like Coppertree Farms, Txuleta 1882, Vintage Beef, and Camden Valley farm are tapping into the century’s old northern European tradition of utilising working animals for the table. While chefs and consumers are exploring and appreciating the deep flavour of mature aged prime cuts, the ground chuck and brisket from these animals have also found fans in the burger market.
 
It’s an opportunity being explored by Australian beef producers with the potential of receiving a premium for quality cull cows that meet a certain level of eating quality standards – it is also a respectful second act for the herd in the eyes of the consumer.
 
Paradigm Food launched its Roam brand in 2020, working closely with a group of mostly Queensland purebred and full blood wagyu producers to ‘value-add’ their breeding cows culled on age.
 
Most of the wagyu cows entering the program are at least 6-8 years of age, with some as mature as 15 years – they are extensively grass-fed in natural outdoor environments with the opportunity to mature more slowly.

“Some of the marbling we have seen direct from cows off grass is incredible – which goes to show that maturity and genetics is obviously a clear driver of marbling,” said Paradigm General Manager Nick Thompson.

Underpinning Roam’s grass-fed, mature-aged wagyu program is its grading under the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) eating quality grading system. The program follows strict MSA protocols to ensure eating quality with a focus on best practice animal welfare, handling, and transport.
 
The natural 80/20 lean/fat composition of the Roam Wagyu Brisket is my choice for the burger at The Calile’s Lobby Bar. Coarsely minced through a 12mm plate it makes the perfect, deep flavoured patty and has proved to be a customer favourite since hitting the menu – ticking all the boxes of quality, story, taste, and price point.

GRASS FED WAGYU BURGER

Serves 4

Ingredients

 
1kg Grass Fed Wagyu Brisket trimmed
4 x 12cm burger buns, seasoned with cumin and salt
200gm sliced provolone piccante
2 large beetroots
2 large brown onions
2 sprigs thyme
3tsp Murray River Salt
2tsp freshly ground black pepper
50g salted butter
50ml sherry vinegar
50ml balsamic vinegar
50ml olive oil
100gm BBQ sauce
 

Method

 
Mince the wagyu brisket using a 12mm plate then massage the mince until the protein becomes sticky and cohesive. Shape into 4 patties, 12cm in diameter. Refrigerate until set.
 
Wrap the beetroots individually in baking paper and roast in a 180c oven until tender – around 60-90 minutes depending on size and time of year. Allow to cool a little then slip off the skins. Cut into 5mm slices and dress with the sherry vinegar.
 
Finely dice the onions and cook until well coloured with the thyme and butter. Season with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper. When softened and unctuous add the balsamic and reduce to a glaze. Add the BBQ sauce and mix well. Allow to cool and reserve.
 
Heat your grill well and brush the burgers on both sides with olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Grill to your liking but allow for a good, tasty char if you want it rare.
 
While on the grill add the cheese and allow to melt – cover with a cloche to facilitate the melting and a good smoke.
 
Cut the buns in half and brush with melted butter, grill until toasted. Add a good spoon of the onion sauce to the base of each and then slices of beetroot. Add the patties and the lids.
 
Serve with fries and a large Polish dilled gherkin.

Pat’s Picks

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“Honestly, Italian Beef is the one thing that represents Chicago the best, even more than pizza.”

 
 
That’s my pal Steve Dolinsky talking. I don’t know anyone who knows more about food in Chicago than Steve – he’s the food reporter on NBC 5 there. He also is also the author of The Ultimate Chicago Pizza Guide, he does Chicago pizza tours, podcasts and a Chicago pizza festival, so when he says the Italian beef is not only a thing, but a bigger thing than pizza, it’s the real thing. “Pizza has been around for a long time, but the Italian beef is truly FROM here, and it’s nearly impossible to find in any other US city done properly.”

The Italian Beef - a champion of Chicago culinary culture

The Italian Beef – a champion of Chicago culinary culture

The keen-eyed reader will have also noticed Steve’s face stuck on the wall of a certain fictional Chicago restaurant. Yep, season one, episode two: that’s Dolinsky’s cameo in The Beef. And that’s why we’re talking about it right now. Despite Australia’s love affair over the last few years with the regional foods of the US, it’s only been since the show that this sandwich has gained any real conversational currency here. And it’s only been at Hector’s Deli, really, that it’s been getting some play – even there, just as a promotional special cooked up for the show.
 
When they got the brief from Disney+ and Broadsheet to create the special, the Hector’s team’s secret weapon, says Joe Farrell, head of culinary operations at Hector’s, was a relative of owner Dom Wilton. Wilton’s Chicagoan uncle-in-law, Stephen, gave them directions and feedback, and that, along with some taste-tests, a close study of The Bear and some YouTubes from the show’s culinary consultant, Courtney “Coco” Storer and Matty Matheson, plus a dash of Hector’s style resulted in a sandwich that was a fitting tribute to the Italian beef, but still recognisably a Hector’s creation.
 
“We made our own seasoning mix and 100-per cent sourdough hoagies, added horseradish mayonnaise (a Hector’s classic) and some sharp, thinly sliced provolone cheese,” says Farrell. “We wanted to show off our version of the sandwich, but we also didn’t want to go so far as to dilute what the real thing is meant to be. Using high quality, house-made ingredients we knew the sandwich was going to be good, but was it a Hector’s sandwich? We wanted it to be fatty, juicy and pickley, and by adding a few touches it really became a medley of classic and new flavours that I can’t imagine any Chicagoan wouldn’t love.”

Joe Farrell head of culinary operations at Hector’s Deli

Joe Farrell head of culinary operations at Hector’s Deli

And the real thing, back in Chicago? In short, it’s a sandwich born out of necessity, created by working-class Italians in Chicago in the early 20th century to make cheaper meat and bread go further. At its simplest it’s a sandwich of very finely cut slow-cooked lean beef on gravy-soaked French bread, usually served with peppers and Italian pickles. 
 
Our Chicago correspondent Steve Dolinsky has some you-gottas for you here. “You gotta have firm, sturdy Italian or French loaves,” he says. “But not with hard crusts, like a baguette; they need to absorb the jus when you dip them, but not fall apart.
 
“You gotta have slightly steamed or sautéed green bell peppers, sliced or chopped for even distribution. You gotta have giardiniera – when you order a ‘beef, sweet, hot’, you’re talking a beef with sweet bell peppers and hot giardiniera.” The giardiniera you’ll encounter in a beef shop in Chicago, Dolinsky says, will typically be a pickle of sport peppers (the green peppers you’ll also see on a Chicago hot dog), cauliflower, carrots and celery.
 
“And you gotta have a well-seasoned jus or gravy. Garlic and oregano are key.” The beef takes a brief bath in it before going into the sandwich. Dolinsky’s go-to order is usually ‘beef, sweet, hot, dipped’ or ‘beef, sweet, hot, juicy’, “which means please dip the sides of the sandwich into the jus just before serving it”.
 
Then, of course, there’s the meat. “You gotta roast top round beef with lots of garlic for hours, until it softens, let it cool completely, then use a professional meat slicer when it’s cool to get those thin shavings. You can’t hand-cut an Italian beef.”

What’s the difference between a regular beef and a great one? For Dolinsky, it’s the thinness of the meat slices (“you really need it paper thin”), it’s the time the meat spends in the jus (“you can’t let it sit in the jus all day, so you need to visit places with high turnover”) and the way the peppers are distributed (“most places just place a hunk of green bell pepper on a ‘beef, sweet’ but the best places will add chopped peppers for better eating and chewing”). For the record, his top spot is Johnnie’s in Elmwood Park, but it’s technically outside the city limits, so if we’re going by the book, in the city proper, it’s Bob-O’s on West Irving Park Road.
 
What of The Bear, and the beefs that feature prominently in season one? “There’s literally no one making their own bread in these places – they’re small with no room for baking – that’s Hollywood,” Dolinsky says, “but the rest of what I’ve seen seems legit.”
 
And what about the life portrayed in The Bear? Joe Farrell has an interesting take on it, having done something like the reverse of Carmy, the main character. He started out in fancy restaurants (Gerard’s and Esquire in Brisbane and Lume in Melbourne among them) before making the switch to the sandwich life at Hector’s in January of 2023.
 
“After 12 years of working in dinner-focused restaurants around Australia I was really starting to feel the cuts and burns as well as the 1am deep-cleans,” he says. “Not to say you can’t have a good work-life balance working dinner service and late nights, and I have plenty of friends who live a great life that way, but for me, the opportunity to make that change while also being able to serve food, and work for a business that I’m proud of was the perfect chance for me to make that change.”
 
Farrell says The Bear team has nailed a lot of the flavour of day-to-day hospitality. “From the pressure and intensity, the passion and devotion/desperation, to having something breaking down on you all the time, I’d say they’ve done a great job.” Yes, chef.

 
 

Pat’s Picks

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Let’s get controversial: is it possible that the best shawarma is right here in Australia? Specifically, in fact, on Martin Place.

 
If the heart of the financial district of Sydney seems like an unlikely place to go looking for a really good shawarma (over, say, downtown Beirut, or Osama bin Zaid Avenue in Bahrain, Marjah Square in Damascus, or the suburbs of Melbourne), consider this: it’s here on Martin Place that Paul Farag plies his trade, cooking at Aalia. And Paul Farag knows what’s up.

Paul Farag and team in the Aalia kitchen

Paul Farag and team in the Aalia kitchen

But let’s step back a bit. Defining our terms first would be a good idea. The shawarma is basically a really big kebab cooked on a rotating skewer in front of a grill. The name comes from çevirme, the Turkish word “to turn”, according to the Lebanese food writer Anissa Helou.
 
This is one of the things it has in common with gyros, “gyro” being the Greek term for the same thing. But the gyro traditionally turns horizontally over coals, like a spit, while the shawarma is always cooked vertically. The Turkish doner kebab, meanwhile, is also cooked vertically in a similar shape, but it’s formed from minced lamb or beef, while the shawarma is made with slices of lamb that are marinated and then threaded together into a tight mass on the skewer.

Aalia’s take on the shawarma – could it be the best?

Aalia’s take on the shawarma – could it be the best?

Lamb shoulder is the choicest cut, and in the better shawarma shops of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Palestine there might be thin slices of lamb-tail fat. The idea is that the fat, whether it’s from the shoulder, or the fat that’s added, melts over the hours that the shawarma cooks, basting the meat. And unlike smaller kebabs of the sort served on the skewer – the sis kebab, for example, or the adana – the shawarma is sliced as it cooks, the shawarmanji working their art to carve off a pleasing mix of fat and lean, juicy bits and crunchy bits.
 
(Side note: how the hell did they cook these things vertically before the gas grill, you might ask yourself? Joseph Abboud, chef and owner of Melbourne Middle Eastern landmark restaurant Rumi, clued me in: “They used charcoal stacked on little shelves”. Sounds crazy, but a quick Google shows it checks out. Wild.)
 
There’s plenty of regional variations in how it’s served, too, not least of all the bread, which might be taboon, lafah, pide, markook or even a chapati, depending on where you stand. While kebabs in Greece and Israel are loaded into pita, Lebanese shawarmas are wrapped snugly in khebez, the thinner flatbread usually sold in Australia simply as “Lebanese bread”. Here in Australia the usual compliments are tahini sauce (aka tarator), onions spiced with sumac, tomatoes, shredded lettuce and maybe some pickles.
 
There are also the variations that have really gone native, and the most famous example on this front is the taco al pastor. That’s right: one of Mexico’s most famous dishes is the product of the migration of tens of thousands of people from Syria and Lebanon to Mexico in the late 19th and early 20th century, where, over the course of a century, it became adapted to become pork served on a tortilla.

DIY shawarma – designed to share at the table

DIY shawarma – designed to share at the table

Then there’s the shawarma that Paul Farag makes.
 
Aalia is all about the Arabic food cultures (including Egypt, where his family is from), rendered in dazzlingly smart plates such as Iskender-style bone marrow with chermoula, a kibbe nayeh-inspired tartare of beef made tangy with rhubarb and black cardamom, and hawawshi, the Egyptian street sando, reimagined here as a mezze morsel of lamb with black garlic and lemon.
 
The spicing is just as keen on the grill, with fenugreek and biber salçasi, the red-pepper paste, accompanying 2GR flank steak, the dry-aged Stockyard wagyu rib served with rose harissa, the AACo wagyu striploin with North African mustard.

Lamb neck on the bone – Paul Farag’s pick of the carcase

Lamb neck on the bone – Paul Farag’s pick of the carcase

And, of course, the shawarma. It came about because Farag wanted to use lamb neck on the bone, as opposed to the lamb neck fillet most chefs use. “It’s the best bit in my opinion,” he says.
 
 

“It’s got the most flavour and we simply dry rub it and marinate it, then roast it low and slow at 85C with a little bit of steam for 12 hours, using its own fat to baste.”

 
 
It gets a blast at 250 to tick the food-safety box, and then for service it’s held on the oven that’s part of the kitchen’s wood-fired grill, giving it a touch of smoke, and then it’s rolled over the coals to crisp up the skin.

Chermoula is added where the main tendon is removed from the whole neck

Chermoula is added where the main tendon is removed from the whole neck

The diner gets a section of the neck nestled into a blanket of saj, a flatbread that’s almost crepe-like in its delicacy. Randomly enough it was Farag’s nostalgia for eating cob loaf when he was a kid that inspired the plating. “I guess I wanted to replicate that way of eating something which is always fun and really ties into the culture.”
 
It might seem distant in some ways from the shawarma more familiar to most of us, but as you sit at the table, rolling up the incredibly flavoursome, tender meat in the saj with pickled chillies and tahini sauce, it all falls into place. “Shawarma has many shapes and forms depending on which region you’re in,” says Farag, “but pickles, tarator, meat and bread is the base for me.” It’s a flagship dish at Aalia, and one Farag particularly loves because the idea of taking a less appreciated cut and making it the star holds a lot of appeal.
 
 

“Considering not long ago it was scrap and sold off as braising cuts, it’s definitely become more popular and hence harder for me to get at certain times of the year.”

 
 
The way he learned to cook, he says, “scrap is where the best flavour comes from’’.
 
There’s also some quietly elegant technique going on under the hood, too. “It’s one of those dishes that really is simple in its creation but works really well on many levels and ties into everything we try to accomplish here at Aalia,” says Farag, “like where we put the chermoula into the middle is where we remove the main tendon from the neck, and it also serves as a well to season the inside of the meat.”
 
Shawarma is the Middle East’s gift to the world. Perhaps in shawarma al Farag we’ve found something we can give back in reply.

 
 

Editor’s Letter

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Editor’s Letter

Welcome to the Turf ‘N Surf issue where sport takes centre stage with the 2023 seasons of the National Rugby League (NRL), the Australian Football League (AFL) and Super Rugby well underway – that’s the turf covered.

 
 
And the surf? In this issue Mark Best shines a light on Flinders Island in Bass Strait and Myffy Rigby tours the Mornington Peninsula for What’s Good in the Hood.
 
Stadium food has well and truly levelled up in recent times with punters wanting more than just a lukewarm pie to sustain them as the beers, cheers and jeers flow freely. High profile chefs across the country are taking up the challenge of game day dining and Pat Nourse chats with Matt Moran, Victor Liong and Mike Eggert to get the score on stadium dining.
 
Australian Beef has entered its second year of sponsorship with the Brisbane Broncos – a partnership fueled by the nutritional powerhouse that is Australian Beef. Healthy, balanced beef meals provide vital nutrients that help athletes and every day Aussies alike perform at their best.
 
On the healthy beef train – we catch up with social media chef sensation Andy Hearnden (4M TikTok and 2.2M Instagram) and Humble on Duke chef/owner Stacey Conner on the Sunshine Coast to capture their interpretations of a healthy beef meal for Cut Two Ways.
 
Still on the Turf, we head to Brisbane where ALH – Australia’s largest hotel group – has introduced a Footy Fever dish to the menu of their Queensland based venues for the duration of the football season. Leveraging the momentum of national sporting leagues and events is a great way to drive incremental meal sales and the Broncos Steak, basted with a XXXX BBQ sauce is a tasty way to do so.
 
Mark Best heads to incredible Flinders Island where he meets with Jo Youl – an island powerhouse promoting the produce and attributes of this remote island off the coast of Tasmania in Bass Strait. From producing Angus beef on the island to running the Flinders Island Wharf Restaurant and its roster of renowned chefs; providing luxury farm stay accommodation and other tourism ventures, if anyone knows Flinders Island, it’s Jo.
 
Finally, Myffy Rigby heads for the Mornington Peninsula where wild surf coasts and calm ocean bays encase a stretch of turf populated with fine wineries and a wealth of delicious dining options – from tantalising Tedesca to the awe of Audrey’s, be sure to add the Mornington Peninsula to your travel plans.

 
 

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

 

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

 

Editor’s Letter

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Editor’s
Letter

 
 

Welcome to our Summer Issue – a season some consider the most wonderful time of the year, and I tend to agree.

 
 
Each January, Australian Lamb hits the spotlight with the release of the Summer Lamb campaign and the infamous Australian Lamb Ad – the tongue in cheek narrative plays on Australian culture with lamb as the centrepiece.
 
It’s more than just an ad, it’s a fully integrated marketing campaign that puts lamb front and centre in the hearts and minds of Australians over the Summer months – and provides a platform for foodservice businesses to leverage the increased awareness and desire for lamb with their own on menu lamb specials.
 
In this issue, Pat Nourse catches up with Jason Lui at Flower Drum, a Melbourne fine dining institution for 47 years where the quality of Australian lamb sees it appear multiple times on the menu – not a common occurrence in Cantonese cuisine.
 
Mark Best shares his love of lamb with three recipes that celebrate the quality and diversity of Australian lamb – there’s a Sichuan-style tartare, a beautifully blushing rack and a Christmas glazed long leg to give the ham a run for its money.
 
Myffy Rigby goes full Summer with a visit to the Gold Coast for What’s Good in the Hood – the Goldy is emerging as a destination as much for its food as for its golden stretches of sand and shimmering seas.
 
Our Young Gun this issue is the 2023 Good Food Guide Young Chef of the Year Tom Foster. Currently head chef at ELE by Federico and Karl, Tom has worked in the fine dining space for 10 years using modern techniques to showcase hyper seasonal produce.
 
Aligning with the Summer Lamb campaign, Lucas Restaurants have implemented special lamb dishes across several of their venues to celebrate Australian Lamb. We showcase two dishes from Benjamin Cooper at Chin Chin and Andrea Kok at Hawker Hall for our Summer Lamb Two Ways.
 
Finally, for our Big Business section we visit the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground where Australian Lamb has produced a Hat Trick with a dedicated lamb venue selling three lamb dishes kicking off on Boxing Day and continuing throughout 2023. Howzat?!
 
So sit back, relax and let the lamb do the talking.

 
 
 


 
 

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

 

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

 

What’s Good in the Hood

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FORTITUDE VALLEY

 

Club town, brunch town, dinner town, cocktail town, shopping town. Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley brings the noise.

 
 
Once upon a time, the Valley was an area best known for its large capacity club scene and accompanying 3am kebabs.
 
That legacy still holds strong, but there’s another side to the suburb that’s exploding with fantastic hospitality, both brand new and much-loved. The beauty of the place is its opposing forces. You can shop in beautiful boutiques, drink well, eat well, and dance yourself silly till the sun comes up. What a town.
 
From fancy sausage rolls and steak sandwiches to beef tendon crisps and the best steak of 2023, here’s What’s Good in the Valley Hood.

Our host Myffy Rigby, ready to take on the Valley

Our host Myffy Rigby, ready to take on the Valley

AGNES WOODFIRED BAKERY

 
85 James St, Fortitude Valley
anyday.com.au
 
From the team that brought you the dark, moody hearth restaurant that has completely intoxicated Brisbane groovers, comes the Agnes Bakery. Unlike the mothership restaurant, opened by Tyron Simon, Bianca Marchi, Ben Williamson and Frank Li, this little bakery is all bright and airy, built into an older style, heritage listed weatherboard house.
 
It’s here that you’ll try the lamb, harissa and smoked labneh sausage roll – an artwork of flaky pastry, a juicy, rich and slightly spicy lamb mince interior, garnished with swirls of whipped labneh, dotted with harissa and finished with a sprinkling of rose petals. Stunner.

ESTABLISHMENT 203

 
6 Marshall St, Fortitude Valley
establishment203.com
 
In partnership with Stanbroke, one of Australia’s largest beef producers, Establishment 203 offers farm to table/paddock to plate in the purest sense of the word. Chef Ben O’Donahue is behind the menu here. The much-loved Brissie chef only opened the doors to the venue in early December, but he’s come out swinging.
 
O’Donahue delivers the likes of a bone-in, rib fillet cotoletta (yowza), not to mention complimentary beef tendon puffs to start – perfect with a Manhattan, if you swing that way. Also, and without burying the lead here, my steak of the year. And I’ve eaten a lot of steaks. Wagyu sirloin – bone in – is perfectly charred, with a burnished salty crust and a blushing interior. On the side, crunchy skin-on fries, and a perfectly dressed butter lettuce salad. A completely delicious time from go to whoa.

sAme sAme

 
Shop AM3 Ada Lane, 46 James St, Fortitude Valley
anyday.com.au
 
One of the best – possibly the best – fine dining Thai offerings in the city, run by ex-Longrain chef Arté Assavakavinvong. Here in a low-lit poured concrete bunker surrounded by lush ferns, you’ll find the likes of a fish sauce-marinated and chargrilled short rib, served with a tangle of Thai herbs and pickled sweet potato vine, and a punchy Thai beef salad, with a sweet and sour dressing of smashed lemongrass, chilli and lime and a salad packed with herbs.
 
We’ll be back for the nahm dtok – wagyu rump cap, with tamarind dressing and roasted rice. The sort of place to order generously and sweat profusely, in the best possible way.

GERARD’S BISTRO & BAR

 
14/15 James St, Fortitude Valley
gerards.com.au
 
A mainstay of the blue-chip James Street precinct now boasting an impressive new fit out, Gerard’s restaurant is a love letter to Levantine cuisine (check out that Westholme wagyu rump cap with Tarhana sauce, black garlic biber salcasi, soft herbs and fresh peppercorns).
 
Just across the way, Gerard’s bar, offers more in the way of fun dining classics such as the wagyu cheeseburger on a soft potato roll with a Zuni pickle (named for the version on the burger at a much-loved San Franciscan restaurant, they’re cold brined zucchini slices and possibly the most delicious pickle on sliced bread). Order yours with a cold beer and relax into the evening.

ESSA

 
181 Robertson St, Fortitude Valley
essa.restaurant
 
Brought to you by Phil Marchant (one of the chefs that first blew Brisbane’s mind with experimental fun diner Gauge), Essa is just the moody, dark, fine diner the city deserves. Pity the chefs working in front of the open flame that fuels much of the menu during the warmer months, though reap the rewards as a diner on the other side of the pass. That might mean crumpets warmed over the woodfire topped with beef tartare, or an all-out baller order of kojii-marinated wagyu tri tip steak, all funky, sweet and delicious served with black garlic mustard.
 
Commit to the whole tasting menu in the main dining room or hang out next door at the Nixon Room for a cocktail. If there was ever an argument to bring back Midori, The Nixon Cool Down is it: tequila, cucumber, Midori and citrus, served tall and refreshing.

THE LOBBY BAR AT THE CALILE

 
48 James St, Fortitude Valley
lobbybar.com.au
 
Ever wanted to eat an Aussie style burger made by one of Australia’s great chefs? Now is your chance. Chef Mark Best is at the helm of the food program at the Valley’s most covetable hotel, The Calile. And the best bit? You can eat without staying here.
 
Head straight to the lobby bar, and order classics such as a minute steak frites smothered in cafe de Paris butter, and an old school Aussie brisket burger complete with generous slices of salt-baked beetroot in the middle and a whole pickle on the side. And chips. Obviously.

HONTO

 
Alden St, Fortitude Valley
anyday.com.au
 
One of Brisbane’s first flash Japanese restaurants down one of the least memorable side streets in the Valley. That, of course, is a big part of its charm. That, and the almost comically low lighting which adds to the allure. The whole offering has that whole heightened sensory thing going for it, from the ice-cold drinks in the sleek bar to the excellent food. The menu is currently being executed by chef Tom Jack, last seen working at Adelaide hotspot, Shobosho.
 
The rib cap sanga is the one to bet on here. Somewhere between a Japanese sando and an Aussie sausage sanga, that little steak snack is served on a piece of fluffy white bread accompanied by squiggles of Bulldog sauce and Kewpie mayo. Total umami bomb.

Best Practice

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DIY: LAMB LEG

 
 

Lamb stands as an exceptionally versatile ingredient yet as chefs, are we truly harnessing the full potential of the entire carcase?

As a young chef in the UK an old butcher taught me a salient lesson – “Mark, anyone can sell the best but what counts is selling the rest.”
 
From a deft butcher’s blade, a lamb carcase can yield a multitude of prime and secondary cuts while presenting an opportunity for yield, value, and creativity. However, only a handful of prime cuts consistently grace our menus.
 
The familiar hits include the rack, loin, and oyster-cut shoulder, while the supporting roles mostly fall to the necks and shanks. This represents a missed opportunity for your customers, not to mention keeping the price of those hero cuts inflated and often unavailable.

Cooking composite muscle groups like square-cut shoulders or whole legs has its merits, however the compromises render them less suitable for contemporary restaurant kitchens. Understandably, chefs lean towards the superior portion control and cooking consistency offered by single-muscle cuts.

While I’m a fool for a slow roasted French long leg as the centre piece of a long lunch – I’m also a vociferous proponent for splitting it into more manageable parts. Chump, topside, silverside, knuckle, and shank – with a bonus bone for the dog – allows precise cooking, a variety of delicious techniques and portion control.
 
As dedicated professionals in this craft, we possess the ability to delve deeper into the untapped potential of the lamb carcase. By working a little harder to incorporate these less-celebrated cuts into our culinary arsenal, we not only hold true to the core principles of our metier, but also contribute to a more responsible, sustainable, and resource-conscious kitchen culture. Have at it.
 
Best Practice is intended to be an advice column – but perhaps I’ve come across a little preachy here. Nevertheless, I have taken my own advice, sub-primaled the lamb leg, fired up the hibachi and grilled the silverside to create the perfect summer sando.
 
Now, won’t you do the same?

SUMMER LAMB SILVERSIDE SANDO

Serves 4

Lamb Ingredients

 
1 lamb silverside
Sprig thyme
Zest of a lemon
25ml olive oil
25ml tamari
8 green shallots
1 tsp Murray River salt
1/2 tsp sansho powder
4 Japanese style long milk buns
 

Method

 
Thinly slice the lamb leaving the fat on. Mix with the thyme, zest, olive oil and tamari and allow to macerate for 30 minutes. Thread a slice or two onto the end of 8 skewers.
 
Fire up the hibachi with best quality hardwood charcoal.
 
Trim the shallots and divide in half. Toss in a little oil and season with salt. Grill the shallots until softening.
 
Season the lamb with a little salt and sancho pepper then grill to medium rare.
Split the buns and add the shallots and lamb. Top with a tablespoon of aioli.

Aioli Ingredients

 
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg yolk
1 tsp salt
125ml new season’s olive oil juice
½ lemon
 

Method

 
Place the garlic and salt into a mortar and pestle * and grind to a viscous paste.
 
Add the egg yolk and mix well. Slowly add the olive oil at the start and increase in volume as you mix.
 
Add the lemon juice and refrigerate if not using immediately. Will last several days but best now while it is pungent.
 
* You can of course use a blender however it makes a very different product as the mortar and pestle doesn’t incorporate air into the emulsion, allowing a brilliant yellow/green hue redolent of the yolk and olive oil.

Best Practice

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BRAISING: BEEF DAUBE

 
 

Braising, in its purest form, emerged as a frugal one-pot dish that provided sustenance using simple, seasonal ingredients. It was a nourishing meal traditionally prepared for those toiling in the fields, often serving as their sole source of hot sustenance for the day.

The name ‘Daube’ refers to both the cooking method and the earthenware pot in which the dish is traditionally cooked. The Provençal daubière, known for its distinctive elongated shape and thick walls, was designed to provide even heat distribution and retain moisture, making it ideal for slow-cooking and braising over coals, giving the Daube its unique texture and flavour. In lieu of a daubière, I have used a heavy cast iron casserole or Dutch oven; with a heavy tight-fitting lid it gives the requisite amount of moisture retention and evaporation to allow long, slow and moist cooking.
 

The purpose of a braise is to transform a tougher cut of meat into something succulent and flavourful. Choose well-marbled cuts of beef such as shin, neck, tail or cheeks, as they have the most to gain from the slow-cooking process.

These cuts are hardworking muscles with a far higher degree of strong connective tissues and collagen content, which yields during consistent and persistent temperatures above 100 centigrade.
 
The other part of the equation is usually vegetables that you can use to flavour, such as carrots, onions, garlic and celery; or to extend, using starchy vegetables like waxy potatoes, celeriac, parsnips or turnips. Simple hard herbs like bay, thyme and rosemary add complexity; and spices like vanilla, cinnamon, star anise or fennel seeds, adds some exotic depth.
 
The slow, gentle braising process unlocks the full potential of humble ingredients and is the most efficient way to bring delicious Winter comfort.

BEEF DAUBE

Serves 4

Ingredients

 
1 kg beef shin (on the bone for preference)
100g plain flour
100ml olive oil
200g pancetta or lardon (skin on), cut into 8 pieces
2tsp salt
4 large carrots, peeled and cut Rangiri style **see note
12 small onions, outer layer of skin removed
1 bottle Shiraz
500ml veal or chicken stock
3 fresh bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1⁄2 bunch of thyme
1 vanilla bean
2 allspice berries
2 cloves
1tsp black peppercorns
1 garlic bulb
Zest of 1 orange
2tsp cornstarch
 

Method

 
Have the butcher cut the shin through the shank or leave it in one piece if preferred. For this version I deboned the shank, cut the beef into 8 large pieces and added the bone to the pot to allow all the marrow to melt into the sauce.
 
Preheat the oven to 120°C.
 
Heat you casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the pancetta or lardon and render some of the fat, turning to brown evenly. Add the carrots and onions to the fat and brown evenly. Remove them with a slotted spoon and reserve until required.
 
Dust the beef in the flour. Add the olive oil to the pot and then the beef shin. Brown on all sides. Add the bottle of red and reduce to a syrup. Add the vegetables back to the pot and the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. Skim the first froth that comes to the surface.
 
Tie the bay leaves, cinnamon, thyme and vanilla bean into a tight bundle using half a dozen turns of butcher’s string and a good knot then add it to the casserole with the remaining spices, garlic bulb and orange zest.
 
Put the lid on the casserole and cook in the oven for 4–5 hours until the beef is gelatinous and just starting to fall apart. Whisk the cornflour with one tablespoon cold water to make a slurry. Stir the slurry into the casserole over low heat until it thickens.
 
It should be well seasoned from the pancetta but taste and season to your preference. Serve the daube in the cooking vessel with something glutinous to mop up the sauce.
 
**Rangiri is a way of cutting cylindrical vegetables such as carrots or cucumbers, and consists of random, diagonal cuts made while rotating the vegetable one-quarter turn between cuts. The large, evenly cut surfaces allow for absorption of flavour, making this method particularly suitable when braising.

 

 
 

People Places Plates

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For as long as people have taken the field or stepped into the arena to test themselves against each other, there have been spectators, and for as long as there have been spectators, there have been pies.

 
Well, not pies exactly, but something like a pie – something to eat while cheering (or indeed booing) the battle playing out before you. And while things have come a long way since the days of oiled Spartans duking it out in the original Olympics (everyone usually wears clothes now, for one thing), for most of our modern era in the West, the food served at stadiums hasn’t changed that much. Even as broadcasting, advertising, changing attention spans and the rise of the professional athlete have dramatically transformed the games themselves, food stayed basic.
 
Or at least it did until now. Restaurant chefs are getting in on the business of how we eat when we’re watching sport, and it is, as they say, a game changer.

The food eaten at games is more diverse than you might’ve thought. Bovril, the British beef tea, has been described in some quarters as being nearly as important to British football as the ball itself. Canada’s love of chips smothered in cheese reaches insane heights at Toronto FC’s home ground at BMO Field, the birthplace of the triple-pork poutine. In Istanbul it’s all about kofte sandwiches, while miles of sausages are eaten in arenas across eastern and northern Europe, not to mention Latin America, and a whole lotta biltong goes down in South Africa. Also: sunflower seeds. Lots of countries are really into sunflower seeds. Bear that in mind next time someone tells you they think Chiko rolls are out-there.
 
In ancient times, sporting events were often accompanied by feasts and banquets. In ancient Greece, athletes competing in the Olympics were fed a diet of meat, bread, and wine to ensure they were well-nourished for their competitions. In ancient Rome, gladiators were served a diet of barley, beans, and meats to keep them pushing their personal best. While the food served at these events may not have been the type of fare we associate with modern sporting events, the idea of feeding athletes and spectators alike has been around for thousands of years.
 
It was in the 19th century, though, that we began to see the emergence of foods that are more recognisable as stadium snacks. In the United States, baseball was hitting its straps, and there’s records of vendors selling peanuts and popcorn at games in the 1870s. These simple snacks were cheap, easy to prepare, and could be eaten on the go, making them the perfect food for a fast-paced sporting event. Also: good with a beer and easy to throw.

Australian Beef has entered its second year of sponsorship with the Brisbane Broncos - fueling athletes and every day Australians on and off the field

Australian Beef has entered its second year of sponsorship with the Brisbane Broncos – fueling athletes and every day Australians on and off the field

As stadiums and arenas became more established, food concessions were set up on the premises, with more varied menus and more comfortable seating. One of the earliest examples of stadium food was the hotdog – the first of them sold at a baseball game in New York City in 1893.
 
In the early 20th century, with the rise of organised sports leagues, the variety of food available at sporting events began to expand. In the US, hamburgers began to be sold at baseball games in the 1920s, while in the UK and Australia meat pies became a popular food served at football matches. As sporting events became more professionalised and commercialised, food vendors began to see the potential for selling a wider variety of foods to hungry spectators.
 
Take a look around today. At the FIFA World Cup in Doha last year, punters at Al Bayt Stadium had the option of potato chips, popcorn and (beef) hotdogs but also the more Qatari-leaning likes of faytayer, a triangular almost-pie, filled with minced meat and spinach, and luqaimat, a sweet flour dumpling drenched in sweet syrup spiced with cardamom. If you want to get really fancy, consider making a booking at Geranium, the fine-diner in Denmark named number one in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2022. It’s located on the eighth floor of Parken, the home of Copenhagen FC – so you could conceivably nip in for a taste of the Spring Universe menu (for a crisp $800 AUD a head) and smash a bit of salted herring in crisp algae with dill stems and aquavit before a game. Not so much with the pies, though.
 
And in 2023, Australia is now well and truly in the game, following a string of high-profile announcements connecting restaurants and major sporting venues. Melbourne chefs Guy Grossi and Alejandro Saravia signed on with the hallowed ground of the MCG last year, and today, when members roll into the Long Room on a game day, Saravia offers them a buffet laden with the likes of leg of O’Connor beef, cooked over a wood fire and served with smoked chilli salsa and chimichurri. Grossi’s menus at the swank Committee Room, meanwhile, place duck and porcini tortellini with caramelised pear, and a rigatoni sauced with a spiced veal ragù and a healthy dusting of pecorino alongside King George whiting presented with a Sicilian-accented arrangement of breadcrumbs, pine nuts, sultanas, saffron and zucchini, and a serious herb-crumbed veal cutlet with bitter leaves dressed with lemon and capers.

Matt Moran is culinary ambassador across CommBank Stadium and Accor Stadium in Sydney - Photo: Steve Burn

Matt Moran is culinary ambassador across CommBank Stadium and Accor Stadium in Sydney – Photo: Steve Burn

Speaking of the MCG, next door in and around Rod Laver Arena, The Australian Open has done an incredible job putting Melbourne well ahead of its international Grand Slam brethren in the food stakes. This year’s talent included Jacqui Challinor offering a Nomad menu (hello mushroom and bone marrow empanadas) on the rooftop, Saint Peter chef Josh Niland with his fast-casual Charcoal Fish concept, plus full-service versions of Rockpool Bar & Grill, Supernormal and Stokehouse and a Penfolds restaurant powered by the team from Magill Estate, not to mention Tacos y Liquor and Ca Com, the casual offshoots from celebrated chefs Aaron Turner, of Igni, and Thi Le from Jeow.
 
It is, says Matt Moran, a sign of the times. The Aria chef reckons it’s tied up with sport being such a key place for corporate entertaining, and also just the general elevation of the food conversation in Australia.
 
 

“It’s all about good produce and just done well. People just want good food that hasn’t been sitting in bain-maries for God knows how long. You don’t have to serve five garnishes with it and trick it up, we just want to make it fresh and clean.”

 
 
Moran is now culinary ambassador across two large Sydney venues, CommBank Stadium in Parramatta and Accor Stadium at Sydney’s Olympic Park, and he says his mission is to put good produce first.
 
“If it’s going to be a chook, it’s going to be a really good roast chook with a good gravy. Slow-cooked lamb shoulder, he says, is the perfect thing in this context for chefs and punters alike. “You can do it in advance, and it’s so bloody easy to reheat in a Rational and put it on a platter and let people share it. That’s delicious.”

Moran Family Lamb Shoulder - not your average stadium snack - Photo: Travis Hayto

Moran Family Lamb Shoulder – not your average stadium snack – Photo: Travis Hayto

Where Moran grew up eating pies and barracking for the Dragons in the NRL, Lee Ho Fook’s Victor Liong’s memories of sporting fixtures growing up in southeast Asia were more about dirt-bike racing and martial arts – both things loved by his dad – and of the satay vendors.
 
The flavours of Asia carry the day at Liong’s new outlet of Lee Ho Fook at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. That could mean Rangers Valley short-rib with fennel, mustard and baby cos, or Xinjiang-style cumin braised lamb and bullhorn peppers tossed through noodles, or even a milk pudding with coconut sorbet, lychee, raspberry and rose granita. The restaurant caters for large numbers of people in very small amounts of time – pre-game, half time and so on – so clean menu design and minimal movements for plate-up are key.
 
At the end of the day, Liong says, wherever you are in the world, fans are looking to be comfortable and not too bothered with the service style while watching the game. “It’s all about food that’s not too challenging and easy to eat.”

Victor Liong’s renowned Melbourne restaurant Lee Ho Fook now has an outlet at Marvel Stadium - Photo: TJ Edwards

Victor Liong’s renowned Melbourne restaurant Lee Ho Fook now has an outlet at Marvel Stadium – Photo: TJ Edwards

You might know Mike Eggert as the chef behind the smash-hit success of Totti’s, which has just spread its wings from its Sydney home base and opened in Lorne on the Victorian coastline. But he also answers to another label: lifelong cricket tragic. (He has fond memories of the sandwiches his nan would make for a test-match: chicken and lettuce with butter and white pepper.)
 
So when Merivale signed on to step up the food offering at the SCG and Allianz Stadium, bringing its exec chefs Jordan Toft, Dan Hong, Ben Greeno and Vincenzo Biondini into the mix, Eggert was ready to lead the charge. And while you can now get noodles and dumplings from Queen Chow and Ms G’s, “the elevated, coastal European stylings” of Bert’s, Coogee Pavilion, wraps from Jimmy’s and a pasta bar from Totti’s, it’s Eggert’s pie and a burger from Biondini that bring it on home for the crowd in the stands.
 
 

“We had a couple of parameters,” says Eggert of the signature SCG pie he developed with the team from Sonoma Bakery. “It needed to be a one-hander. None of this two-handed pie crap.” Structural integrity, as with all good sandwiches and pies, was paramount. “You have to be able to nurse both a beer and a pie.”

 
 
For the filling, braised beef was the starting point. “I didn’t want anything at all fancy. No red wine, mushrooms and stuff. I just wanted an elevated version of a classic beef pie.” The winning mix is simply seasoned with black pepper, “a micro-amount” of onion and garlic, and that’s pretty much it. No packet gravy-flavour, no veggie boosters or chicken booster or MSG. “Just a beefy, meaty, gravy flavour stuffed inside a pie.”

Merivale’s stadium burger - smashed dry aged beef patty, caramelised onions, pickles, cheese and sauce – Photo: Jiwon Kim

Merivale’s stadium burger – smashed dry aged beef patty, caramelised onions, pickles, cheese and sauce – Photo: Jiwon Kim

Then there’s the burger. It was inspired, appropriately enough, by a research trip to the Superbowl in Los Angeles with Merivale boss Justin Hemmes.
 
“When Vinnie got back from LA he started working with Haverick Meats to dry-age his cuts of beef and mince them with a much more open, coarse grind to do his smash patties.” Now the smash-patty burgers are available at the stadium across three kiosks, and Eggert reckons it’s a solid-gold ripper.
 
 

“I think it’s one of the best burgers you can get in Sydney – and I’m saying that with my Merivale hat off. It’s on a Big Marty sesame seed bun from Martin’s. Dry-aged beef, caramelised onions. Really delicious.”

 
 
In an age when we’re talking about serious money for seriously upscale restaurant-style food in a sporting context, it’s interesting to hear Eggert talking about keeping the value front and centre with the pie, and about not wanting it to be, in his words, too fancy.
 
“I’m all for variety in pie shops because if you’ve got an audience and you do it well, you should expand your repertoire. But we’ve got the guys and girls in the stadium for an hour, two hours, and they’re not looking to eat three types of pies – they just want to have a good beef pie with a little bit of salt and a little bit of pepper because it goes well with a beer. For me, if you make a really good gravy beef, that’s fancy enough. That’s a winner.”

Stadium snack favourites are still a-go with pies, sausage rolls, hot dogs and chippies available at multiple outlets across both SFS and SCG – Photo: Steven Woodburn

Stadium snack favourites are still a-go with pies, sausage rolls, hot dogs and chippies available at multiple outlets across both SFS and SCG – Photo: Steven Woodburn

 

People Places Plates

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It might give the appearance of being perfectly changeless, but for this landmark of Australian fine dining, evolution is constant and quiet innovation keeps it on top.

 
To the casual observer, Flower Drum is about as classical as it gets. The carpet is red, the tablecloths are white, the dining rooms divided by lacquered screens. Some of the waiters give the impression they might’ve been working the floor for all of the restaurant’s nearly 50 years in business.

Flower Drum opened in 1975, and, apart from a move in 1985 from the original Little Bourke Street site to the current Market Lane address, for that casual observer, it has been a story of constancy and changelessness, its place at the pinnacle of Chinese dining in Australia secured by fine cooking and courtly service from a tight-knit and long-serving staff.
 
But in truth, that constancy is achieved only by constant work. Pick your analogy here. There’s the way the harbour bridge in Sydney is being painted with a new coat on one side just as the last coat is being finished on the other bank. Or the way good hotels never stop renovating, room by room, wing by wing. Or, this being a Cantonese restaurant, perhaps it’s the image of the smooth, seemingly effortless way a duck makes its way through the water, legs working hard below the surface all the while. However you want to slice it, the message is that staying timeless in this way involves plenty of hard work and no small amount of innovation.

Jason and Anthony Lui at Flower Drum - a landmark of Australian fine dining

Jason and Anthony Lui at Flower Drum – a landmark of Australian fine dining

Just ask Jason Lui, the GM. He hasn’t been around quite since the very beginning in 1975, not being quite yet born then, but he almost literally grew up in the restaurant. His father, Anthony Lui, moved to Australia from Hong Kong to join the kitchen, and bought it from founder Gilbert Lau in 2000, having never worked a day in another restaurant in this country. Jason has worked right across the business, as a busboy, at the bar, as a cashier, absorbing the lessons of a master maître d’ and restaurateur at Lau’s side, and his vision for Flower Drum is perfectly clear.
 
 

“We’re a traditional Cantonese restaurant working with the best Aussie produce we can find,” he says. “Our menu is quite broad; after 47 years you pick up a lot of things along the way, and we’ve still got regulars from 30 or even 40 years ago who still order the same thing, even if it’s not on the menu anymore. We still keep skewers in the kitchen in case someone comes in asking for satay.”

 
 
Glance at the written menu today and there’s everything you’d expect at the highest of high-end restaurants in Hong Kong: delicate dumplings in translucent gossamer wrappings, noodles dancing with the breath of the wok, soups of exceptional depth and clarity. You can have your rock lobster stir-fried with XO sauce and dried scallop, or whipped with egg whites and cream into an airy omelette. The Peking duck is one of Australia’s finest examples, served tableside on featherlight pancakes, and fried rice, crisp-skinned chicken and barbecue pork are all present and correct.

Anthony Lui moved to Australia from Hong Kong in 1980 to work in the Flower Drum kitchen - where he continues to work to this day

Anthony Lui moved to Australia from Hong Kong in 1980 to work in the Flower Drum kitchen – where he continues to work to this day

But there’s also a double-boiled soup made with wallaby tail and red dates – not something you see every day in Kowloon or Wanchai – and preserved egg wrapped in deeply savoury minced quail, like a Cantonese Scotch egg. The meat of the pearl oyster – not the usual eating family Ostreidae, but the Pinctada maxima used to culture pearls off the coast of Broome – is served on its shimmering shell, its dense, almost abalone-like flesh dressed with ginger and spring onion.
 
Zoom in on the red-meat situation and that quiet edge of innovation becomes even more apparent. While beef is prized as a special treat, Cantonese diners – southern Chinese diners in general, in fact – are traditionally not big eaters of lamb or mutton. Or, as Irene Kuo puts it rather more bluntly in her 1977 landmark The Key to Chinese Cooking, “beef is scarce in China and lamb is disliked by most Chinese because of its strong odor”.
 
At Flower Drum circa 2023, though, it’s a different story. Cantonese cooking is, after all, about bringing out the best qualities of the best ingredients to hand, and in Australia, that means fine lamb and beef. “It’d be silly not to use it,” says Jason. In the lamb department, Anthony Lui favours saltbush lamb, and works with Bultarra, the certified organic producer that runs White Dorpers in northern South Australia, grazing them on the saltbush and native grasses of the Flinders Ranges.
 

Typhoon Shelter Lamb Cutlets - traditionally made with seafood, at Flower Drum the dish highlights the quality of Australian lamb

Typhoon Shelter Lamb Cutlets – traditionally made with seafood, at Flower Drum the dish highlights the quality of Australian lamb

One of the more unusual dishes that it appears in is typhoon-shelter lamb. The typhoon-shelter style comes from the fishing community of Hong Kong, the name referencing the refuge they’d take during heavy weather. It’s traditionally used for seafood, typically tiger prawns or mantis shrimp stir-fried with a vast quantity of fried garlic, ginger, black bean, spring onion and chilli. At the Drum it’s reimagined as a way of presenting lamb cutlets. They’re dusted and lightly fried together with a relatively restrained quantity of garlic chips and chilli: spicy, crunchy, delicious.
 
The claypots walk a more traditional path. “Again, it’s saltbush lamb, and we’re using brisket,” says Jason “We braise it on the bone for more flavour – after a couple of hours they just slide out – and it’s flavoured with red dates and ginger. There’s also some bean curd sheets with it that we fry first then braise with the meat so it gets nice and soft.” The finished dish is served with spinach leaves cooked in the sauce with the lamb, and a fermented bean curd that the kitchen breaks down into a sauce. “Very savoury, very pungent.”
 
Another dish takes its cues from Shanghai, working with bread pockets made with a semi-sweet white dough very similar to that you’d see used for barbecue pork buns, sprinkled here with sesame seeds. The kitchen stir-fries lamb cut from the rack with leek, miso bean-paste and ginger, which is then stuffed into the bread pockets like a sandwich.
 
Lamb spring rolls are a highlight, too. “This was actually born out of having some offcuts left from braising the claypot lamb,” says Jason. “We decided to make them into small parcels and serve them as spring rolls, so they have all the elements of the lamb claypot except for the beancurd sheets, plus spinach, ginger and water chestnut.”

Lamb Pockets - saute saltbush lamb from the rack served with sesame bread pockets

Lamb Pockets – saute saltbush lamb from the rack served with sesame bread pockets

“Southern Chinese people have a perception that lamb is very … lamby,” says Jason. “Aussie lamb is very good, though, so when we have travellers here and we can convince them to try it, they find that it’s very nice.”
 
One of the secret weapons of the Flower Drum kitchen in winning southern Chinese diners over to Team Lamb comes as something of a surprise. “We use fish stock,” says Jason. “Instead of chicken or beef or whatever, we use a stock made from all the pieces left from filleting all our fish, and we use that as the base to braise the lamb. My dad came across that because in Chinese somehow the word ‘lamb’ has the word water or sea in it, and thought he’d give it a try – it takes away some of that lambiness. We’ve been doing that for 10 years now, and it works for us. It sells.”
 
On the beef side of the ledger, short-ribs do the occasional cameo, braised then battered and fried, as does wagyu cheek, and Black Angus appears in the form of a fillet stir-fried with a superior-soy mix, stir-fried with mushrooms. Westlake beef soup is standard, bringing together chopped Black Angus, coriander and spring onion, all thickened with egg white, and there’s also a pao fan, a variation for the colder months, that’s like a loose congee made up of rice cooked in a clear broth with, coriander, not-quite minced beef and topped tableside with a crisp rice. “You mix it all together and have it as something to finish a meal, garnished with coriander and century egg.”

Braised Lamb Claypot - saltbush lamb brisket slow braised on the bone

Braised Lamb Claypot – saltbush lamb brisket slow braised on the bone

And then Jason throws another curve-ball. Flower Drum is famed for the breadth of its off-menu offering – most of the real regulars verbal their whole order without ever cracking the pages of the carte. But even so, learning that the Drum does a steak still comes as something of a shock. Will it be Black Angus eye fillet or Robbins Island wagyu porterhouse? “We do those with black pepper sauce or our Sichuan sauce,” Jason says. It’s more usual for these cuts to be sliced into strips before they’re cooked here, of course, as you would in any restaurant where chopsticks are the weapons of choice at the table, but the Drum also has guests who prefer it as a steak, and, this being a can-do sort of place, they’re always happy to serve them. “We’ve got seeded mustard here if you want it.”
 
So how does it work, this business of being both a timeless institution but at the same time constantly evolving?
 
 

“The techniques we use are still very traditional, they work for a reason,” Jason says, “but we have a bit of fun playing around with things and doing things differently with certain dishes. Even our spring onion cake we do with puff pastry rather than the usual pancake – you can’t just do the same thing all the time.”

 
 
Flower Drum is famed for the personal quality of its service. Jason Lui speaks fondly of Gilbert Lau’s total commitment to the job and his fastidious way of working, talking about him running his fingers under the chairs to check that they were clean all over, or drilling staff not just on the menu and the wine list but on the varieties of flowers arranged around the dining room.
 
“Above all it was him teaching us how to look after people, how to make them want to come back. Even if they’ve got to save for a year before they can come back, you overwhelm them with service and attention to detail, and the food is so wow – you make it so that they can’t not come back.”

Jason Lui says the key to return diners is to overwhelm them with service, attention to detail and exceptional food

Jason Lui says the key to return diners is to overwhelm them with service, attention to detail and exceptional food

What will Jason be doing this Lunar New Year? “I’ll be working. It’s the second-biggest week for us, after Cup week.” Menus for New Year at Flower Drum are months in the making, as is the wrangling of the tables because so many diners come from overseas and out of town for it. “There’s a bit going on.”
 
 

“New Year’s Eve is mostly Chinese diners, and it’s booked out a year in advance, and it’s the same families coming back year after year, booking 12 or 20 or 50 people. Every year it’s the same people. New Year’s Day is more of a mix, but it’s booking out well in advance now too.”

 
 
Flower Drum takes its name from a 20th-century Broadway musical, The Flower Drum. But that’s just its name in English. In Chinese, it’s quite different. “The best I can translate it,” says Jason Lui, “is Ten-Thousand Generation Palace.”

As we enter the Year of the Rabbit, as the restaurant eases closer to its own 50th year, what does Jason want the wider world to know the Flower Drum is all about?
 
“I’d say don’t be afraid to have a chat with us,” he says. “The menu can be daunting for some people but it’s just a snapshot of what we can do for you. Tell us what you like, tell us what you don’t like, and let us do something for you. That’s when most of my guests have the most fun. Do something different. You’ve made the booking and waited two months to come in – let’s go all in.”

 

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]
@_raremedium

 

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

 
 
 
 

Editor’s Letter

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Welcome to Issue 19 where we explore comfort food and its incredible ability to stir up feelings of sentimentality, warmth and happiness. Often associated with emotional stress, comfort food bounced back in a big way during the pandemic where we saw chefs cooking food inspired by their own notions of comfort and designing menus that appealed to their comfort seeking customers.
 
As we emerge from Covid’s clutches, the good news is, it seems comfort food is here to stay. Be it specific to an individual or a cultural classic; a childhood favourite (hello crumbed lamb cutlets) or a ‘treat yourself’ craving – the transformative power of nostalgia is informing menus across the country.
 
Pat Nourse catches up with chef Ben Russell at Rothewell’s Bar & Grill – Brisbane’s hottest new destination; an ode to the timelessness of the great bistros of the world and the comforting familiarity of menu classics. Here, it is the revival of the Beef Wellington that has taken diners by the hand and the heart – where the combination of time honoured technique is coupled with quality produce and meticulous preparation. The result is comfort at the highest level.
 
Mark Best reminisces on the warm feelings evoked on the coldest mornings when his mother served savoury mince on hot buttered toast. Around the world, mince has played a similar role in vastly different settings with dishes that transcend time and place, have a hold in history and are lovingly passed down, reinvented, and given new life. Mark explores memories of mince and the comfort dishes it conjures up for Palisa Anderson, Paul Farag, O’Tama Carey and Enrico Tomelleri.
 
I spend some cherished time at Baba’s Place where nostalgia drips down the walls and weaves its way into every part of the experience – where a menagerie of memories of growing up in Western Sydney are interpreted and elevated in every bite. Here, Jean-Paul El Tom, along with his mates Alex Kelly and James Bellos, are inviting you to experience their memories of food – while reminiscing on your own cherished experiences of food and family. Baba’s Place radiates warmth and familiarity – where you come to get fed and leave feeling part of something much bigger.
 
Myffy Rigby experiences the ultimate in Winter comfort with a trip to the balmy 32 degree days on offer in the Top End. What’s Good in Darwin uncovers a burgeoning food scene driven by a melting pot of cultures and hyper local produce. Underpinned by institutions like Jimmy Shu’s Hanuman and accelerated by the palette and passion of former Masterchef contestant Minoli de Silva at her first restaurant Ella – Darwin might just surprise you. If the sun setting into the Timor Sea while you indulge in an array of snacks from the Mindil Beach Sunset Market doesn’t fill you with a sense of happiness – I don’t know what will.
 
When you take dry aged mince, expertly prepared by Marcus Papadopoulo from Whole Beast Butchery, and put it into the hands of Barzaari’s Darryl Martin and Federico Zanelatto of LuMi, Leo, Ele and Lode – you know you’re going to be rewarded with some mince magic. The boys definitely passed the vibe check on the comfort brief and Cut Two Ways comes alive with Federico’s famed beef pithivier and Darryl’s take on kousa – stuffed Lebanese zucchini.
 
Finally – is there anyone more deserving of comfort than our loved ones in aged care homes around the country? Estia Health is shaking off the shackles of what we think generally constitutes aged care food with freshly prepared, culturally curated menus that provide residents with comfort and familiarity. Discover an uncompromising level of care for older Australians in this issue’s Big Business section.
 
 

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

 

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

 
 
 
 

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Welcome to Issue 18 where we explore a little slice of luxury – and what a journey it has taken us on.
 
It has been wonderful to be back on the road and in the sky, crossing state lines and visiting restaurants around the country. Some venues are reporting that diners seem to be making up for lost time with average check size up – they are opting for more premium wines, choosing supplementary options and splashing out on luxury steaks. In fact, Australians spent a record $4.465 billion in cafes, restaurants and takeaway shops for the month of February, an increase of 9.7 per cent on January and up more than $500 million on February 2020, just before the pandemic.
 
As Pat Nourse puts it – ‘rare is the delicacy that gets the mouth watering in quite the same way as a really good steak’ and I couldn’t agree more. In this issue Pat talks to some of the greats of the steak game – Lennox Hastie, Andrew McConnell, Ross Lusted and Corey Costelloe about what makes a great steak. From the producer to the preparation, the cut to the cooking, the salt to the service – it’s not a one size fits all scenario and we are more than happy to try them all on.
 
Mark Best pays a visit to the pioneer of luxury beef in Australia David Blackmore who, with his son Ben, produces premium Wagyu for some of the finest restaurants in Australia and around the world. David maintains that his customer is and always has been the person choosing to dine out once a year for a special occasion – a celebration where they forget the diet and forget the budget. It’s all about quality over quantity for the Blackmore family and we learn about their new venture into Rubia Gallega, the Northern Spanish cattle David Blackmore believes will be the best grass-fed beef in the world.
 
Myffy Rigby makes a run for the Nation’s Capital to discover what’s good – and there’s plenty to be excited about. Established favourites sit firm amongst vibrant newcomers – from fun fine dining and everything over fire; to the simple pleasures of pizzas and jaffles – there’s certainly something for everyone.
 
I take a trip to Adelaide where the buzz is all around young chef Jake Kellie’s first restaurant Arkhe – and it more than lives up to the hype. Kellie’s resume reads like every young chef’s dream career run and in a leafy suburb in Adelaide he’s making his boldest move yet. Arkhe is Kellie’s dream restaurant come to life – where produce is the winner and playing with fire is the game.
 
It’s wagyu with a view as we shoot Cut Two Ways from the lofty 55th floor setting of Vue de monde in Melbourne. Executive chef Hugh Allen and Donovan Cooke of Ryne give us their versions of luxury dishes using wagyu brisket.
 
With flights back in the air, we thought we’d pay a visit to dnata catering – Australia’s largest in flight caterer creating a mind blowing 64 million meals to be served on 250,000 flights a year. Now that is Big Business.
 
I hope you enjoy the luxury of Australian beef and lamb.
 
 

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

 

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

 
 
 
 

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Happy New Year – welcome to 2022 and Issue 17!
 
In this issue, we focus on the wonder that is Australian lamb as the nation patiently awaits the release of the annual Summer Lamb ad. More than just an ad, the Summer Lamb campaign is an integrative marketing campaign that drives consumption of Australian lamb from shopping trolleys to restaurant plates and celebrates Australia’s love of lamb.
 
Pat Nourse profiles chef Trevor Perkins of the aptly named Hogget Kitchen – hogget being a young adult sheep aged around 15-16 months between lamb and mutton. At Hogget, Trevor takes a nose to tail approach sourcing from a range of Gippsland lamb producers and takes diners on a journey of Gippsland’s finest.
 
Myffy Rigby heads for the hills for What’s Good in the Hood – the Blue Mountains edition. Just a stone’s throw from Sydney, the Blue Mountains is an incredible destination rich in history and spectacular scenery. It’s also sporting what Myffy thinks is one of NSW’s best new fine dining restaurants and a host of other epic places to eat.
 
Mark Best looks into the recent CSIRO study that labels Australian lamb as only one of two foods produced in Australia that is climate neutral – a good news story worth telling. He also delves into the world first Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework launched in 2021 and profiles one of Australia’s first organically certified farms – Cherry Tree Downs.
 
Cut Two Ways takes two chefs from the Seagrass stable, 6HEAD head chef Scott Greve and Meat & Wine Co-head chef Thomas Godfrey, and matches them with a dry-aged chump on lamb leg expertly prepared by Tony Mandaliti of Global Meats.
 
I profile talented young butcher Lachy Kerr who is progressing forwards by looking backwards and embracing the butchery of yesteryear. Kerr makes the effort to personally visit the farms of each of his suppliers, sourcing from independently owned NSW farms that align with his ethos. Whole carcase butchery that connects the customer with the origin of their purchases – Wollongong is in good hands.
 
Finally, our Big Business section looks at two hospitality groups leveraging the power of a nationwide summer lamb campaign with lamb menu specials for January.
 
I hope you enjoy the issue and share the love of Australian lamb on your menus this summer.
 
 

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

 

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

 
 
 
 

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Producing this entire issue from my living room was definitely not what I had in mind when planning our special PUB issue, but here we are!
 
The Aussie pub is a national pastime, a rite of passage, a place where the community congregates to share good food, good booze and good times. As the country slowly emerges from multiple lockdowns, it is set to be a red hot season of celebration and the local pub is primed to once again be the central meeting place for almost any occasion.
 
Pat Nourse takes it to Tassie to profile Tom Westcott from Tom McHugo’s in Hobart. This little corner pub punches well above its weight in all classes – the food, the booze and the people. It’s definitely one of my favourite pubs and I can’t wait to jump on a plane and visit Whitney, Tom and the team as soon as possible. In the meantime, sit back, relax and let Pat’s words wash over you as you imagine tucking into the haggis bao or hot house-made pastrami roll.
 
Fortunately we had the foresight to shoot an extra episode of What’s Good in the Hood way back in June before lockdown hit. This time it’s Newcastle that gets a dose of Myffy magic. Newcastle is booming and the food scene is an ‘edible adventure’ that you should be adding to your list. We’ve done the hard work for you – follow our lead and enjoy the ride.
 
Mark Best profiles the historic Royal Richmond in Sydney’s west – a hotel serving the local community for 173 years. After a complete refurbishment, the venue continues its local focus with a menu that showcases local produce including a unique relationship with Western Sydney University to provide beef and lamb produced on its Hawkesbury campus.
 
Our Young Gun is Michael Watson who has taken on his first bricks and mortar venue. If you have visited the Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park for a sporting match, concert or festival – it’s more than likely you’ve had a pre or post drink at the corner pub. Previously PJ O’Gallagher’s and before that The Fox and Lion, the old haunt was in need of some young blood. The sparkling new venue Watson’s is ready to roll when restrictions lift – the EQ has been waiting on a winner and Watson’s has arrived.
 
It’s Veal’s turn on the chopping block for Cut Two Ways and it is in the capable hands of two chefs at the helm of some of Sydney’s most well loved pubs. From a tricked up schnitzel to a glorious veal-chetta it’s the veal-deal by all accounts.
 
Finally, I am excited to introduce our new section BIG BUSINESS. Ever wondered how 5000+ hungry miners are fed at an isolated mine site in the Pilbara? Or what goes into catering some of the biggest events in the country? Big Business will tell the stories you don’t often get to hear. First up for our PUB issue we chat with Australian Venue Co – operating 170 venues Australia wide and using 40 tonnes of beef a month.
 
Here’s to pubs across the country – may your beers be frosty, your patrons thirsty and your menu enriched by Australian red meat.
 
 

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

 

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

 
 
 
 

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Australian Beef – the Official Team Partner of the Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams for Tokyo 2020. Hold on. Make that Tokyo 2021. Either way, Australian Beef will be feeding the greatness of our Aussie sporting heroes when they finally take on the world at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
 
And so in this issue, we explore the theme of greatness – from one of the all time greats of the Australian culinary scene to the emerging greatness of the 2020 Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year. Innovative producers finding ways to hero their older cattle who have provided much greatness through their lives; and the everyday extraordinary greatness of Australian beef on the menu.
 
Pat Nourse profiles the great Karen Martini who has recently opened a high-profile new restaurant aptly named Hero. Pat writes “It’s not a sprint, they tell you, it’s a marathon. But in professional cooking it can be both. Starting work in restaurants when she was 15 years old, Martini was quick off the blocks, putting in the hours in one of the most demanding kitchens in Victoria, and leaping into her first head chef role at just 20. But these achievements were only the beginning of a career marked by sustained performance and a willingness to forge her own path.”
 
In our Young Guns section, I chat with Anna Ugarte, the humble 2020 recipient of the industry’s most coveted young chef award – an award that has recognised many of the greats in the cheffing community. Anna talks candidly about the challenges of her first head chef role and her journey working with some of the country’s, and the world’s, greatest chefs.
 
Mark Best delves into the emerging use of mature-aged beef. An age-old tradition in Europe and particularly the Basque region of Spain, Australian producers and chefs are beginning to see the potential of teaching an old cow new tricks.
 
Our Cut Two Ways showcases the greatness of oyster blade in the hands of Guy Turland and Tom Walton, two chefs passionately driven by the creation of wholesome, nutritious and delicious meals. The boys show us that a healthy balanced meal doesn’t have to be boring – especially when you’ve got Australian beef to play with.
 
Finally, Myffy Rigby, the fabulous food finding host of What’s Good in the Hood takes on Chatswood in a whirlwind day fueled by beef breakfast noodles, bulgogi beef banh mi, robot hot pot and much much more.
 
I hope this issue feeds your greatness with inspiration and ideas fueled by Australian beef from paddock to plate.
 

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

 

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