WHERE THERE'S SMOKE

The chef whose pas­sion is pro­tein knows the se­cret of un­lock­ing flavours is pin­point cook­ing con­trol.

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It’s un­ex­pected for a chef who owns and runs a busi­ness called LP’s Qual­ity Meats to ad­mit he orig­i­nally “hated the idea of be­ing a butcher”, but Luke Pow­ell says it took a rel­a­tively re­cent ca­reer epiphany to set him on this path. The New Zealan­der, who has called Syd­ney home for 11 years, got his first taste of the in­dus­try at age 13, when he started wash­ing dishes at a lo­cal restau­rant for pocket money. So keen was he to make a bee­line for life in kitchens that his mother had to talk him out of quit­ting school there and then. He stayed in ed­u­ca­tion till he was old enough take up a chef ’s ap­pren­tice­ship. A visit to th­ese shores in his youth made quite an im­pres­sion. “Syd­ney just blew me away,” says the Kiwi, who went on to serve as head chef for two years at Tet­suya’s in the city’s CBD. But he wasn’t to over­come his an­tipa­thy to­wards meat pro­duc­tion un­til his glo­be­trot­ting ca­reer took him to up­state New York, where he worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns – a work­ing-farm restau­rant and ed­u­ca­tional cen­tre. Blue Hill’s farm-to-ta­ble phi­los­o­phy in­cu­bated Luke’s pas­sion for in­volve­ment in the cre­ation of food well be­fore the cook­ing stage, in par­tic­u­lar smok­ing and slow-cook­ing meat. LP’s Qual­ity Meats is renowned for its huge South­ern Pride meat smoker, which was shipped all the way from Ten­nessee. This be­he­moth helps to cre­ate menu winners such as ap­ple­wood-smoked ocean trout, made-from-scratch smoked sausages, and smoked chicken with pa­prika and dill rub, as well as the 12-hour porchetta recipe Luke has cre­ated spe­cially for Pride & Pro­duce. And while the South­ern Pride works hard overnight do­ing its part to eke out the flavours of the flesh, Luke as­serts it’s still all down to the qual­ity of the meat it­self. His pro­ducer of choice is Bor­row­dale, a fam­ily-run farm near Goondi­windi on Queens­land’s Dar­ling Downs that raises and pro­cesses Large White/ Lan­drace-cross pigs to the high­est RSPCA and free-range-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion stan­dards. Clearly cru­elty-free farm­ing not only as­suages the keen meat lover’s con­science but also prom­ises dis­cern­ing butch­ers, restau­ra­teurs and chefs – and their cus­tomers – the high­est-qual­ity, most flavour­some of meat cuts.

CHEF’S CHOICE: BOR­ROW­DALE FREE-RANGE PORK – bor­row­dale­freerange.com.au

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