If you’re so inclined to whip better, chop with precision and generally wow whoever you’re cooking for then read on here. Tantalising tastebuds is no longer the domain of mere Masterchefs, now more than ever those adorned with Michelin stars reign supreme and Dan Hunter of Brae Restaurant in Victoria is one of those lucky dazzlers. You may query how you, mere mortal, may cook like a master – but thankfully it doesn’t involve intensive lessons but instead your new culinary bible is here to show you the way to plating success, Brae is recipes and beyond. Here’s how to implement the books teachings into delightful endeavours for your tastebuds.
Think Like A Michelin Star Chef
To first embark on your tastebud tantalising journey, you must first put yourself in the right headspace. That’s not to say you’re not a great cook already, your shepherd’s pie is still the bomb promise – but this is a whole other level of cookery. In Hunter’s book you’ll peruse 80 pages or so before you get to the recipes, and so to must you crawl before you run a marathon. And not that’s no exaggeration, these recipes are intricacies, works of edible art, and so before you wrap your apron tightly round it’s time to think like an adorned chef.
When poised with the question of the role esteemed Aussie chefs are playing in crafting an Australian cuisine, Hunter responded simply:
Back in the garden, Hunter is fielding the usual question about the role of high-profile chefs in defining Australian cuisine today.
“Well, we just cook what we know…We don’t think, let’s create an Australian cuisine … It’s just the multicultural food we grew up with.”
No we’re not saying start plating up fairy bread or party pies as gourmet fare, but take Dan’s advice and cook what you know. Familiar flavours will be simpler to perfect for a novice behind the cutting board, the perfect way to learn a little extra finesse on rustic tastes.
Quality Ingredients Are Key
A tradesman is only as good as his tools, and this extends to a chef and his or her equipment. Don’t think of the supermarket as a rushed mad grab for ingredients, instead think of it as the beginning of your recipe. Australia is abundant in excellent produce and exciting ingredients, so why not celebrate them? Chef Dan Hunter of Brae agrees,
“I want the cuisine that you eat here, particularly as an international, to be something that you could travel for. You know, you don’t often go to Italy to each French food…I want people to come here (to Brae) and think – shit, I’m in Australia. This is not just another meal where you could be anywhere in the world.”
When it comes to quality, food and design share similar principles it often takes 20% of the effort to deliver 80% of the quality, and the further 80% of effort to offer the last 20% of quality. Often referred to as the quality curve, most people stop where the differential is highest; but it’s that final 20% that elevates a dish from merely good to awe-inspiring.
Read The Recipe Throughly
Don’t skip a step, oh please. Haven’t you seen Masterchef? The graveyard of failed contestants is littered with those who failed to follow the breadcrumb trail of recipe steps. It’s called a method for a reason, without method there is madness. A Michelin star chef is unlikely to ad lib his way through a famed dish, instead he knows the taste profile by heart. So while you’re still cooking at an apprentice level, be sure to study the to do list bit by bit. Otherwise you’ll end up murdering those charred carrots.
“All of the recipes are the exact same recipes we use in the kitchen at Brae,” says Hunter. “I’m not a guy who writes for guys who’ve just left university and are trying to learn how to use a toaster.”
Pay Attention To Plating Up
When your forking out for a degustation, diners want to see what they’re paying for and get a sneak peek of what they’re about to taste. Pouring over each component and the surrounding query over what that dollop or that smear may be is half the fun. And so to if you’re whipping and searing like a starred chef, your plating should be just as exquisite.
Think of your plate as blank canvas on which you’re about to create a tapestry. The best chefs in the world practice restraint when plating up, delicate little morsels all of varying textures working in harmony. It’s not just aesthetic or taste, it’s about the overall experience and Hunter strives for an immersive one for those seated at his restaurant. Look to crunch, crisp, sear, puree, sauce and beyond, these adjectives speak to the feel of each component and a balance of these it the ultimate in mouthful nirvana. Lucky for you, Hunter’s done the hard work and balanced the outback flavours and seaside fare Australia is ripe for, just make sure not to make it too busy and you’re well on your way.
Watch The Master At Work
There’s no better way to learn than to taste for yourself, lucky for you Dan Hunter is going on tour. You’ll find his delectable artistry from Adelaide to Brisbane, with a serving for Melbourne and Sydney on the way. Taste all five points of the Michelin star with a matched menu available in each city that pays homage to the Brae venue and it’s focus on farm produce made exquisite. Book your seat at the table here.
Image source: Broadsheet, Herald Sun, Fine Dining Lovers, The Urban List.