CHEFS’ TA­BLES

An army marches on its stom­ach, sure, but in restau­rants staff meals are about more than mere fuel. We visit top Syd­ney and Mel­bourne restau­rants be­fore ser­vice to find out what’s for din­ner.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Contents -

We visit restau­rants in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne be­fore ser­vice to see what’s on the menu for staff din­ner.

GROSSI FLORENTINO

“All the staff from the Grossi sites at the top of the city (Om­bra, Grossi Florentino, Grossi Grill and Ar­lechin) get to­gether at 4.30pm every day. Most days it’s an Ital­ian meal such as chicken on the spit, pasta or risotto, but on Satur­days we’ve de­vised a ros­ter for the chefs to each have a turn cre­at­ing a dish from their own cul­ture. We’ve had Korean, Malay and Viet­namese, and a cou­ple of Ital­ian meals, and it’s be­com­ing a bit com­pet­i­tive. Staff can’t work prop­erly if they’re not nour­ished, but staff meal is also about men­tal and cul­tural nour­ish­ment. A good team eats to­gether and plays to­gether.” Guy Grossi, ex­ec­u­tive chef (front right). Grossi Florentino, 80 Bourke St, Mel­bourne, Vic, (03) 9662 1811, grossi­flo­rentino.com

CUT­LER & CO

“Cut­ler & Co and our wine bar Mar­ion sit side by side, but of­ten they can feel re­ally sep­a­rated, so it’s nice to have the rou­tine where we sit down to­gether each day for a meal. The kitchen teams in both venues work to­gether to put up some­thing de­li­cious, bal­anced, healthy and light. Of­ten the bri­gade get to­gether and de­cide on a theme such as an In­dian curry ban­quet, while other nights it might be grilled meats or a seafood braise with cracked wheat salad. Some nights there can be 10 to 15 of us, other nights there might be 30. It’s im­por­tant that there’s ef­fort and thought put into it. A big, long ta­ble is set and the food is al­ways to share. It helps with staff mo­rale.” An­drew McCon­nell, ex­ec­u­tive chef. Cut­ler & Co, 55-57 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Vic, (03) 9419 4888, cut­lerandco.com.au

MS G’s

“I al­ways say that you’re only as good as your last staff meal. It’s a re­flec­tion of you as a chef: your phi­los­o­phy, your skills (and how proud you are of them), and, most im­por­tantly, how much you care about your team. I like my chefs to cook the food of their her­itage for staff meal, so we can learn about dif­fer­ent cuisines and get to know another side of each other. Some of the best staff meals come out of what’s left over, too – like oc­to­pus trim­mings be­ing turned into a spicy Korean stew with rice, say, or beau­ti­ful bo ssäm with slow-cooked pork-belly trim­mings and home­made kim­chi (a lot of our chefs are Korean). We al­ways sit down­stairs at the round ta­ble to­gether and make a proper meal of it.” Dan Hong, ex­ec­u­tive chef (top right). Ms G’s, 155 Vic­to­ria St, Potts Point, NSW, merivale.com

AN­CHOVY

“We’ve banned phones at the ta­ble dur­ing staff meal – a chef gets a break at 4pm and the first thing they do is look at In­sta­gram. We also had to ban fried food. There was a time when every­thing went in the deep-fryer, but now we’re try­ing to be more health con­scious (un­less it’s fried chicken). We’ve made a list of coun­tries and we go through one coun­try a week. We’ve done Samoa, when we just ended up eat­ing taro, and every­thing from New Zealand and Zim­babwe to Brunei. We learnt pretty quickly that you can’t eat and lis­ten to elec­tronic mu­sic at the same time, so we tend to play every­thing from elec­tro-funk to jazz, or oc­ca­sion­ally the staff will play the Frozen sound­track, but that’s usu­ally just to tor­ment me.” Thi Le, chef (cen­tre). An­chovy, 338 Bridge Rd, Rich­mond, Vic, (03) 9428 3526, an­chovy.net.au

SIX­PENNY

“We have a rough ros­ter that we try to stick to, but how each chef goes about cook­ing staff meal is com­pletely up to them. It can be some­thing they’ve learnt from a pre­vi­ous restau­rant or a new cui­sine that’s re­cently piqued their in­ter­est. We have plenty of books in the kitchen for ideas – Thai Food by David Thomp­son and The Zuni Cafe Cook­book by Judy Rodgers, for ex­am­ple, of­ten get a work­out. Joseph, our ap­pren­tice, re­cently made a broth from left­over duck car­casses and in­fused it with the mush­room scraps from the night be­fore. Then Brad Guest, our sous-chef, showed him how to make udon noo­dles, which he learnt from his time at Eleven Bridge. Staff meal is the only time we sit down to­gether as a fam­ily, so it’s al­ways a bit of a col­lab­o­ra­tion. And the same amount of ef­fort has to be put into the meal as a chef’s reg­u­lar mise-en-place.” Daniel Puskas, chef (se­cond from right). Six­penny, 83 Per­ci­val Rd, Stan­more, NSW, (02) 9572 6666, six­penny.com.au

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