What makes a meal ‘Bri­tish’?


WHEN de­sign­ing a menu for sev­eral Bri­tish-themed pubs, you know that peo­ple are go­ing to ex­pect tra­di­tional Bri­tish meals…so how do you de­cide what that is?

This was the quandary fac­ing the group’s ex­ec­u­tive chef Deniz Coskun, and af­ter sev­eral years work­ing with his kitchen staff around the coun­try, he thinks that the recipes and dishes are pretty much spot on.

Deniz moved to Aus­tralia from the Nether­lands in his teenage years, and af­ter grow­ing up in the in­dus­try be­cause of the fact his par­ents had a restau­rant, he ad­mits he fell into the in­dus­try and has been cook­ing ever since.

Af­ter many years at Brett’s Wharf in Bris­bane, along with many other top-class restau­rants, Deniz took on the chal­lenge of shap­ing a menu that re­flected Bri­tain on a plate. If that was you, what dishes would you choose?

“What was pop­u­lar in the early to mid-2000s, aren’t so much any­more, things have changed. There are dishes on the menu known as ‘Bri­tish clas­sics’ and those are the ones we are loathe to change, we’d have plenty of an­gry cus­tomers if we ever did. They are long stand­ing, pop­u­lar English meals.

“Bri­tish food is some­thing that you could hon­estly call ‘com­fort’ food. I think Win­ston Churchill is a bit at fault here, as dur­ing the world wars Eng­land was cut off from the rest of the world be­ing an is­land. So the coun­try that once got many ex­otic in­gre­di­ents now had to make do with what they had, and that has stuck to this day.

“Dishes like lamb chops, or Lin­colnshire sausages, or even York­shire pud­dings … they are all fresh, tasty, hearty meals, plus a dish like a Beef and Guin­ness pie … that’s an­other per­fect ex­am­ple of a Bri­tish ‘clas­sic’.

“Then there is fish and chips, you can’t go past that as a Bri­tish clas­sic. I think the se­cret to that is by us­ing a good qual­ity piece of fish, nice and thick with a good qual­ity bat­ter. Cod is what most Brits use, and some fish don’t bat­ter very well, as I’ve found ex­per­i­ment­ing over the years.”

Deniz says that he has no­ticed a change in at­ti­tudes over the years from din­ers and be­lieves that it is one that can only ben­e­fit the en­tire in­dus­try.

“Peo­ple to­day want to know where their food is from, and if it is eth­i­cal. Tech­niques have changed too, not ev­ery­thing is roasted and braised, of­ten now we use a sous vide in the kitchen which was never the case years ago.

“Aussies to­day want to be as­sured that the eggs on their dish are free range, they gen­uinely care about that, which is a good thing. As a chef you must have a re­la­tion­ship with your sup­pli­ers, so you know where your food is com­ing from.”

There’s also one more thing that rep­re­sents Bri­tish food. The pud­dings.

“Sticky date pud­ding, cho­co­late pud­ding, bread and butter pud­ding…these are all tra­di­tional Brit desserts that have, and al­ways will be pop­u­lar,” Deniz said.

Make sure you head into the Pig ’N’ Whis­tle, Red­bank Plains to sam­ple all of their Bri­tish clas­sics and wash it down with a cold craft beer, cider or wine.


CLAS­SIC: You can't beat fish and chips for a Bri­tish meal.

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