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.