Would-be forager from Tasmania heads to wonderful Copenhagen
COULD the dining room at the award-winning Islington Hotel be the hottest in Hobart at the moment? FoodDetective’s well-fed spies think so and it’s largely due to guest chef Luke Burgess, a talented former Tetsuya’s alumni whose menu showcases organic and seasonal Tasmanian produce.
Burgess, who closed his restaurant, Pecora, in Birchs Bay south of Hobart a year ago to look for a more suitable site, is turning out excellent breakfasts and four to five-course dinners at the boutique hotel. Presently available only to hotel guests, new general manager Lisa Thorsen is hoping to open the dining room to the public so they can try the likes of Burgess’s inspired take on surf and turf — braised wild rabbit raviolo with savoy cabbage in a kelp broth — and his luscious-sounding pork cheeks agrodolce on a potato and turnip puree.
But you’ll need to be quick. The former Sydney chef is only behind the burners until the start of August, before jetting off to Europe for a stint at the world’s most talked about restaurant, Copenhagen’s Noma. Thorsen is on the hunt for a talented head chef to replace him when he departs.
A delighted Burgess tells FoodDetective his persistence paid off when he got an email from Noma’s sous chef to say he’d been approved for a five-week sojourn at the restaurant voted No. 3 on the recent 50 Best Restaurants in the World list.
‘‘ I’d been emailing them for a couple of years and it’s quite coincidental that it happened this year, it’s perfect timing,’’ he says. Burgess is particularly keen to experience the paddock-to-plate philosophy enthusiastically embraced by Rene Redzepi’s twoMichelin-starred kitchen. ‘‘ Noma has five full-time foragers,’’ Burgess says. ‘‘ That’s part of what appealed to me. I want to look at what nature provides there foodwise to see if I can draw any parallels back here. A lot of the things they do really interest me.’’
Burgess also plans to visit Italy’s Slow Food cheese festival and Paris to research vineyards and cheesemongers before his arrival in Denmark. ‘‘ All the stuff I learn will be priceless,’’ he says, promising that he will return to open another Tasmanian restaurant, unless, of course, his luck is in again. ‘‘ I doubt Noma would offer me a job, but if something came up, potentially I’d have to consider it,’’ he says. www.islingtonhotel.com.au.
IT’S definitely back to the drawing board for Detective, whose 300-strong cookery book collection ( Travel&Indulgence, May 23-24) now appears positively flimsy, and not just in comparison with heavyweights such as Anton Mosimann and Gary Rhodes. Reader Stephen Bond is so weighed down with food titles that he’s trying to offload 215 cookbooks from his impressive collection, most of which he says are ‘‘ in superb nick’’ (he’s keeping a similar number of his favourites).
The thoroughly organised Bond has sorted the collection into categories. For example, 30 Australian titles including all the favourites such as Margaret Fulton, Maggie Beer, Stephanie Alexander and the like; American (19 titles, including five by Alice Waters); French (35 titles, including four by Michel Roux); Italian, Mediterranean, Asian, seafood, ‘‘ how to cook’’, ‘‘ classic-rare’’ and more; some of the titles have never been released in Australia. Potential buyers should email email@example.com and Detective will pass your queries to Bond.
FANCY having dinner at the home of a Barossa Valley winemaker? Now’s your chance, with several of the 44 winemakers taking part in the Barossa at Home festival going the extra mile in the name of customer relations. As well as the intimate winemaker dinners (bookings essential), some vineyards that never open to the public will offer rare tasting opportunities during the June 27-28 festival. For an e-brochure of all the events, contact the Barossa Visitor Information Centre: 1300 852 982; firstname.lastname@example.org.
FIND of the week: Transport those delicate young tastebuds away from the realms of bland food with the Baby Spice Kit, the latest from Herbie’s Spices. The likes of lemon myrtle, ras el hanout, cinnamon, sambar powder, chaat masala and smoked paprika will mean bub will never look pureed carrot in the eye again. Pitched as ‘‘ not Posh and definitely not Scary’’, the Baby Spice Kit includes recipes for adult, toddler and baby versions; $30 at Herbie’s Spices in Sydney’s Rozelle. www.herbies.com.au.
DETECTIVE loves: Stefano’s Preserves’ delicious peach and vanilla bean jam, created by Mildura food aficionados Stefano de Pieri and Lyndall Vandenberg. Detective has tried it on her morning toast to excellent effect, and is champing at the bit to do as the label suggests and spread it thickly between the layers of a sponge cake. Pass the clotted cream. From David Jones Food Halls and selected distributors; $13.95. www.lyndallvandenberg.com.au.
DETECTIVE loathes: That she forked out an extortionate amount of money on a wedding cake years ago when she could have followed the shining example set by English couple Andrew and Amy Doyle. The pair chose a giant pork pie, complete with motorcycling newlyweds on top, to mark their big day. ‘‘ I’moriginally from Wigan, which is, after all, the home of the pork pie,’’ the proud groom told his local paper. Detective never met a pastry she didn’t like and wishes this creatively minded couple well.