Top local chefs talk Australian cuisine

By
Interviews: Casey Warrener
Added
20 January, 2016

In anticipation of Australia Day, we called on a selection of top local chefs to share with us what Australian cuisine means to them – and what they’ll be cooking on the day!

Lyndey Milan

What is the essence of Australian cuisine?
This is a perennial question that I partly address in my book Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia, which won Best TV Chef Cookbook at the Gourmand Cookbook Awards 2015. Australian cuisine is based on the freshness, availability and affordability of the huge variety of foods we grow and produce in this vast land. Then it’s influenced by the many nationalities that call Australia home, from the first Indigenous Australians to the migrants who have made it a truly multi-cultural society. However, it most importantly depends on attitude. We are a great nation of borrowers and adaptors with an irreverent personality allowing us to experiment and break rules. It’s the edible version of the Australian spirit!

And what are you cooking on Australia Day?
I’m immensely proud of the fact that I’ve been an Australia Day ambassador since 2003, and I always ask to go to the country to celebrate, as that’s where our food and wine is produced. This year I’m going to Moree in New South Wales, so I won’t be cooking. There will be a Lions’ Club breakfast, followed by a lunch that I hope will include local products. If I were to cook, I would choose one of the recipes in my cookbook that incorporates Australian native foods. Bush chapter is especially relevant with everything from mustard pikelets with minted lamb to BBQ beef sirloin with native flavours, to yabbies with lemon myrtle butter, warrigal greens and wattleseed damper. Or, go really patriotic and try my seared kangaroo loin with licorice sauce and parsnip colcannon!

Ben O'Donoghue

What is the essence of Australian cuisine?
I think the essence of Australian cuisine is our multiculturalism! We have an exciting mix of cultures and cuisines, and as a country a youthful excitement in experimenting with and blending these flavours. We also have a wonderful clean environment in which we’re able to grow a variety of produce and build on these ideas. And finally, we have the belief that anything is possible!

And what are you cooking on Australia Day?
I’ll be cooking a BBQ flavoured with some Spanish love!

Billy Law

What is the essence of Australian cuisine?
With my Malay Chinese background and having lived in Australia since 1996, I count myself lucky to have been exposed to some of the most spectacular cuisines from both worlds. And I think all Australians can share in this sentiment; the many cultures that call this country home mean we have access to authentic dishes from near and far, and unique fusions of complementary cuisines.

And what are you cooking on Australia Day?
I love a good ole Aussie burger with a thick, juicy beef pattie sandwiched between a soft crumbly damper roll. And don’t forget the beetroot; it’s not an Aussie burger without it! This is a recipe that I like to cook in the outdoors with nothing but a campfire. I reckon the damper roll can be listed as one of the seven wonders of the culinary world, as it doesn’t need yeast or baking powder to rise — all it needs is a bottle of beer! How true-blue Aussie is that?

To celebrate Australia Day – and relaxed summer dining in general – dip into a pool of cool Australian talent with our free Cooked magazine.

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