O’Donoghue surfs a new wave of eco-friendly eateries
SURFINGtheMenu star Ben O’Donoghue, who moved back to Australia in May after several years in London, has big plans for his newly adopted home of Brisbane.
The television chef — who has just launched a new book Outdoor , a kind of griller’s guide to world cuisine — tells FoodDetective he wants to open a fully sustainable, eco-friendly restaurant based on the principles adopted by London’s acclaimed Acorn House restaurant and its new sister property, Water House.
The Brisbane venture, which O’Donoghue hopes will be open in a city-centre location by the end of next year, will be ‘‘ quite a significant change to how restaurants are run over here’’, he says. ‘‘( Acorn House general manager) Jamie Grainger-Smith and (executive head chef) Arthur Potts Dawson are friends of mine, and I’m really impressed with what they’ve done. I basically want to tap into what they’re doing and apply it to the Australian environment because we have different needs here. Water House uses heat transfer from water, and that may be applicable, but I’m also looking at how we use water here in Australia, because that’s obviously a huge environmental concern.’’
Like the London restaurants, O’Donoghue says if he gets the project off the ground he intends to make use of all grey water, recycle most of the waste and ban chemicals from the kitchen, along with a raft of other green initiatives. ‘‘ Space is going to be very much a determining factor in how many of my ideas I can implement,’’ he says. He hopes to encourage other restaurateurs to adopt a more sustainable approach to their operations. ‘‘ I like the idea of creating a worldwide movement, a bit like slow food, but from an environmental (perspective),’’ he tells Detective . ‘‘ There are others doing it and I’d like to link up with them and look at getting a consensus on how we can change things for the future.’’
Keep your eyes peeled for more on Water House, in London’s Shoreditch, in Indulgence soon. Outdoor:GrillYourWay ’ RoundtheWorld by Ben O’Donoghue (Hardie Grant, $49.95). www.acornhouserestaurant.co.uk; www.waterhouserestaurant.co.uk.
WHERE do old anarchists go when they’ve lost the will to badger the establishment? In the case of former Sex Pistol John Lydon, they sign up to star in a $12.6 million advertising campaign for butter. A tweed-clad Lydon extols the virtues of Country Life Butter in a series of ads that has just begun screening on British TV. What with appearances on I’maCelebrity and a Sex Pistols tour this year, plus this latest reincarnation as a butter baron, Detective hopes Mr Rotten is not, ahem, spreading himself too thin. www.enjoycountrylife.co.uk.
THE economic downturn seems to be having little effect on Sydney bar and restaurant openings. New Italian-style wine bar Bacco, with cocktails devised by star Sydney bartender Marco Faraone, a wine list by sommelier and wine writer Ben Moechtar, and an Italian chef presently working at the Intercontinental Hotel de la Ville Roma on his way to Australia to oversee the menu if visa issues are sorted, is to open its doors on the ground floor of city-centre Chifley Plaza in late November.
The 80-seater, designed by Michael McCann (also responsible for the fitout of Sydney’s Pony, Steel and Flying Fish restaurants), will trade on weekdays from 7am to midnight. ‘‘ It will be a split venue with coffees and a pastry kitchen at the front and a working kitchen and charcuterie room at the back,’’ Moechtar says. Meanwhile, a stone’s throw away at the InterContinental Sydney, chef Justin North opens Etch, a spin-off of his acclaimed Clarence Street restaurant Becasse, later this month. And in innercity Glebe, popular local identity Tim Smith, who runs The Little Bottle Shop of Glebe, has announced plans to set up a small wine bar in three garages at the back of his premises.
Detective, who has long bemoaned that Glebe is awash with poker machine-filled pubs but lacks somewhere locals can sit and have a quiet glass of decent wine, is keeping her fingers crossed that Smith negotiates the tricky new liquor licensing laws without any hiccups.
DETECTIVE is all for a bit of vegetarian fare, especially when it’s accompanied by a nice big steak. But she’s slightly concerned that the entry for La Panella Bakery on page 50 of the newly released The Melbourne Veg Food Guide may send the wrong message to others struggling to convert to meat-free
FrenchFoodatHome: Canadian host Laura Calder whips up some French treats in her home kitchen. This week choux pastry is the focus, as the base for coffee eclairs, chocolate-covered, ice cream-stuffed profiteroles and a towering croquembouche. One to rewind and watch over and over again. Tuesday, 3.30pm, LifeStyle Food.
EverydayItalian: Rome-born Giada De Laurentiis gives sandwiches the gourmet touch with her twist on the basic BLT, a tuna and artichoke panini and stickysweet toasted ciabatta. You’ll never look at a simple white-sliced Vegemite sarnie the same way. Monday, 4.30pm, LifeStyle Food. living. The Preston establishment’s textured vegetable protein and gravy mushroom pie, the guide informs readers, ‘‘ never fails to disappoint’’. Detective is certain it’s just an unfortunate typo in an otherwise informative little guide to the best vegetarian dining in Victoria. The Melbourne Veg Food Guide ($14.95; www.aduki.net.au).
FIND of the week: As world financial markets remain in meltdown, Detective is heartened to stumble across a culinary bargain, especially when it offers aspiring young chefs the chance to strut their stuff. Hobart’s Kuzina restaurant, which opened earlier this year, is a training ground for apprentice chefs and hospitality staff by day and a restaurant by night. No course costs more than $27.50 and a nightly ‘‘ apprentice special’’ ($22.50) gives young chefs the chance to devise and prepare their own dish before presenting it to diners. Detective is confident Kuzina’s four-course special of seafood chowder, chicken laksa, fish of the day and apple crumble for $28.50— surely one of the nation’s best deals — will have beleaguered market traders scrambling for the next flight to Tassie. www.kuzina.com.au.
DETECTIVE loves: The Charity Wineshop, a new web-based operation that donates at least $20 for every case of wine sold to charity. Select online from some top Aussie tipples and choose the charity — Down Syndrome NSW and the McGrath Foundation, among others — to which you wish to donate. Site founders Damian and Terri Percy set up the initiative after their second son, Callum, was born with Down syndrome and they saw the ‘‘ immense difficulties encountered by charity and not-for-profit organisations to raise enough funds to simply stay afloat’’. www.charitywineshop.com.au.
Detective loathes: Having forced diners to accept the annoying ‘‘ no bookings’’ policy, an increasing number of restaurants are refusing to seat customers until all members of their party are present. How can one win? Get there early and have members of your party stand around like spare parts until that last straggler arrives, or get there late, party complete, and stand no chance of securing a table? Harrumph!