New lease on life.
The recent revitalisation of Mitchelton in central Victoria brought with it a revamped dining experience. Executive chef Dan Hawkins shares his approach and why he’s head over heels for the Nagambie region.
When chef Dan Hawkins set about rejuvenating The Muse restaurant at Mitchelton winery in central Victoria’s Nagambie, he couldn’t wait to immerse himself in the region. “I wanted to source ingredients from the area, and the quality of the produce just blew me away,” he says. In search of small-scale local producers dedicated to sustainable, ethical farming and animal husbandry, Dan soon discovered he was spoilt for choice. “What stood out was their commitment to their products and how passionate they are.”
This quality produce now features prominently on the Mitchelton menu, which Dan says is designed to simply let the ingredients shine. “I think in some ways we’re minimalistic, with three to four elements on the plate,” he says. “We like showcasing a few good flavours and stick to the theory of ‘what grows together goes together’. We just get such great produce here, we really don’t have to do a lot of work to it.”
Dan points to a number of highlight ingredients, including Murray cod, Bald Rock pork, Sevens Creek wagyu and trout straight from the Goulburn River. The lifeline of the region, the river borders the estate, running just 20 metres from the restaurant. Here, guests can dine outdoors and soak up this scenery, perhaps after a tasting of Mitchelton and PREECE wines at the cellar door. “In the evenings, you can see kangaroos jumping five metres in front of you and there’s lots of other wildlife and birds here too,” Dan says.
Originally from New Zealand, Dan confesses he wasn’t familiar with the region before taking on this role, having worked at top Melbourne venues such as the Newmarket Hotel, Longrain, Circa and The Prince Hotel. However, he was quickly hooked on Nagambie’s charm. “This region is very much under the radar,” Dan says. “It’s quite an untouched world and I feel very lucky to have tapped into it.”
GOULBURN RIVER TROUT, MACERATED BLACKBERRIES AND WALNUTS
2 x 180g trout fillets
50ml champagne vinegar 15g white sugar
3 – 4 walnut halves
Extra virgin olive oil
Pin-bone the trout fillets and clean up for presentation. Cut the fish across the body into 30 gram pieces.
Pour champagne vinegar and sugar over blackberries and allow to sit for 20 minutes, stirring once to mix. Remove half the blackberries and liquid, and mash together to form a little drizzle, then pass through a fine sieve.
Pan-sear trout on medium heat to crisp the skin, flip over in the pan and remove from heat.
Allow for 3 fingers per portion, arrange on plate. Place whole macerated blackberries around and drizzle with the blackberry liquor. Using a microplane, grate the walnut over the trout and place dill sprigs around. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt flakes.
The Goulburn River borders Mitchelton.
Dan Hawkins, executive chefat The Muse.
Local produce shines atThe Muse, Mitchelton.