Per­fec­tion is in the phi­los­o­phy of pro­duce

Ben Shewry doesn’t see him­self as Aus­tralia’s best chef, how­ever for the last two years he has the ac­co­lade of run­ning Aus­tralia’s best restau­rant. Jonathan Jack­son ex­am­ines why At­tica has be­come so pop­u­lar among the world’s harsh­est food crit­ics.

Business First - - CONTENTS - by Jonathan Jack­son

Ripponlea is a long way from Ocean Grove where Ben Shewry, the fam­ily man, lives with his wife and three chil­dren. It is even fur­ther from Waitara, the iso­lated cor­ner of New Zealand’s North Is­land where Shewry grew up. This gritty, harsh farm­land is sur­rounded by miles of black sand beaches which hold a mes­meris­ing beauty all their own. It is where the land and sea come to­gether as one and where Shewry gained an un­der­stand­ing of fresh pro­duce and how to present it.

Shewry’s phi­los­o­phy is sim­ple: use the best of what is avail­able right at your doorstep. He of­ten uses the fresh pro­duce from Ocean Grove, which he ei­ther grows or catches to cre­ate some­thing spec­tac­u­lar on At­tica’s menu. He told Good Food: “For­aged pro­duce is more flavour­some than cul­ti­vated food which tastes softer. Plants I find and pick my­self are grunty be­cause they’ve had to strug­gle for sur­vival, while cul­ti­vated food is mol­ly­cod­dled.”

He pre­sented this phi­los­o­phy to a group of sec­ond year Cana­dian hos­pi­tal­ity stu­dents. In a blog post for MAD feed he writes, “My mind was open to the many culi­nary pos­si­bil­i­ties of the great re­gion of On­tario and its people, and I was free from the dishes we cook each day at At­tica — no potato cooked in the earth it was grown, no kan­ga­roo, and no in­fu­ri­at­ing minia­ture bee­hive desserts…

“With six or so young cooks in just their sec­ond year of pro­fes­sional cook­ing by your side, you can throw all no­tions of ‘seek­ing per­fec­tion’ out the win­dow. As you should. The point of

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