SPIRIT OF AD­VEN­TURE

Al­most two decades af­ter open­ing Billy Kwong, Kylie Kwong is more pas­sion­ate than ever about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of cook­ing.

delicious - - HAND PICKED. -

Count­less restau­rants list the prove­nance of in­gre­di­ents on their menus. Kylie Kwong, at her Syd­ney eatery Billy Kwong, goes fur­ther. Her menus are pep­pered with the names of provi­dores: Mark Eather (fish), Saskia Beer (meat) and Out­back Pride Fresh (bush foods) among them. “As chefs we are only as good as the food we put on the plate,” she says. “These in­di­vid­u­als are the care­tak­ers of our oceans and our land.”

In­clu­sive­ness and mind­ful­ness are Kwong traits. The chef has been a long­time apos­tle for sus­tain­able farm­ing and sea­sonal eat­ing. At Billy Kwong, now in its 17th year, she deftly syn­the­sises Chi­nese flavours and indige­nous com­po­nents, in­clud­ing salt­bush, war­ri­gal greens and wal­laby from Flin­ders Is­land.

On the af­ter­noon we con­nect she is slow-brais­ing wal­laby shanks, and de­lib­er­at­ing over whether to pair the lean meat with shi­itake mush­rooms, or­ganic wakame or per­haps even kelp. She could also reach for myr­iad herbs grow­ing in nearby com­mu­nity gar­dens. “I’ve been in­te­grat­ing na­tive in­gre­di­ents into Can­tonese cook­ing for seven years and I feel I can go deeper,” Kwong says. “There are so many new in­gre­di­ents and new tech­niques to dis­cover. I feel like I’ve found my path.”

If that sounds like a spir­i­tual dec­la­ra­tion, it is. Kwong is a Bud­dhist who strives for mean­ing­ful in­ter­ac­tions in all she does; she’s an am­bas­sador for the Way­side Chapel, a char­ity for those marginalised by home­less­ness, and has aligned with Hor­ti­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Aus­tralia to pro­mote homegrown pro­duce. Kwong can of­ten be spied at Car­riage­works Mar­ket on Satur­days, sell­ing dumplings and dis­pens­ing ad­vice.

Ear­lier this year, her restau­rant in­tro­duced Kylie’s Ta­ble, in which the chef shares her culi­nary in­spi­ra­tions over din­ner ser­vice. “When you know a lit­tle bit about the carrot you’re eat­ing, where it came from and who har­vested it, it be­comes a broader ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says. It’s din­ing out with a beam of en­light­en­ment.

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