DOUGLAS Elder is the new head chef at Brown Brothers Epicurean Centre in Milawa, Victoria. Hepreviously worked at Beechworth’s award-winning Wardens restaurant. Best recent dining experience: Annie Smithers in Kyneton, Victoria; wonderful food and service. I previously worked under Annie and have always found her to be an amazing chef. Must-buy ingredient: Chestnuts. It’s the home of the chestnut here in northeast Victoria, and they are a must-have on any menuthis time of year. They are really not that hard to peel, and have a great flavour. Next big thing: I hope there is a move away from selling feed-lot beef in restaurants and in supermarkets. Onehundred per cent grassfed, pastureraised cattle is mypreference; the flavour and texture is better, and the cattle have a more humane life. Most embarrassing pantry item: Barbecue sauce (handy for a latenight sandwich). WhatI’m cooking at home: Ragouts. The cold weather encourages slow-cooked meat and rich sauces with wine, herbs and spices. Simple is always the best: beef shin with red wine sauce is getting a workout at the moment. Can’t live without: Bread. Any form and any flavour, fresh or toasted. Myfavourites are the honey and oat loaf or the polenta loaf from Milawa Bakery. I hate: The overuse of micro herbs as a garnish. While they mayadd visual appeal, you are adding a herb flavour and it needs to complement the dish. Favourite cuisine: Boring and a tad predictable, but it has to be Italian. Worst meal I ever ate: I think everyone whoputs their time and effort into cooking deserves credit, no matter what the standard. I can say, though, that the best meal I ever ate was lunch at L’Arpege in Paris. Biggest culinary influence: Alla Wolf-Tasker. During mytwo years working at Lake House in Daylesford, Victoria, Alla taught methe importance of seasonality and local produce. Favourite cookbook: At the moment it’s an original 1970s New Cuisine by Paul Bocuse I found in a second-hand bookshop. And anything by Antonio Carluccio or Mario Batali. Both have such passion for Italian cuisine. Mylast supper: It would be a huge plate of amazing charcuterie with a bottle of 1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva. brownbrothers.com.au Michelle Rowe’s Food Detective column returns next week.