NICE GUYS FIN­ISH FIRST

Les­sons learned well make for fun kitchens and happy mar­riages of flavour in Mel­bourne chef Scott Pick­ett’s al­ways-pop­u­lar venues.

delicious - - HAND PICKED. -

Even after al­most three decades be­hind the pans, and with a clutch of revered restau­rants in Mel­bourne, Scott Pick­ett still be­comes anx­ious when his tough­est critic is in the house: his 12-year-old son, Har­ri­son. The el­dest of his three chil­dren is an as­pir­ing food re­viewer who has dined at ESP, Pick­ett’s North­cote fine-diner, on three oc­ca­sions. “His only con­di­tion is that he doesn’t want to know what he’s eat­ing,” says Pick­ett, in ref­er­ence to kid-chal­leng­ing fare such as duck, veni­son and wal­laby. “We only tell him after the fact.”

Though he spent sev­eral years toil­ing in Miche­lin-starred restau­rants, Pick­ett is not one of those tor­tured chefs. He is af­fa­ble, oblig­ing and nur­tur­ing, a coun­try boy from a small town in South Aus­tralia who as­cended to the top of his pro­fes­sion with re­solve. He sur­rounds him­self with tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing head chefs Stephen Nairn at ESP and Stu­art McVeigh at Saint Crispin, and acts as a “floating gun for hire”. When Pick­ett was com­ing up the ranks, chef Phil Howard at The Square in Lon­don was deeply in­flu­en­tial. “He taught me that you can be a gen­tle­man, have fun in the kitchen and ex­plore a mar­riage of flavours on the plate,” he says.

That de­vo­tion to pi­quancy is ev­i­dent in the recipes on these pages, too. Pick­ett de­scribes them as an ode to spring­time pro­duce, warm weather (“As the Span­ish know, chilled soups are a great idea.”) and pure nos­tal­gia. The slow-cooked lamb is an adap­ta­tion of a beloved dish his grand­mother used to make.

Pick­ett is pre­par­ing to open his fifth ven­ture, a fire-fu­elled brasserie in South Yarra, early next year, yet he still finds time to cook for his kids on week­ends. Isn’t he tempted to pick up all the fix­ings at his own deli at the Queen Vic Mar­ket? “I find it ther­a­peu­tic,” he says. “I en­joy the process of do­ing it my­self.”

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