The way to a man’s heart is still through his stomach, it seems, but with what food exactly? When it comes to planning a Father’s Day treat,
Fatherhood is the most rewarding thing a man will experience. It marks the moment he can trade in his six-pack abs for a half-dozen of ambers in the fridge and start strutting around in his dad-bod with confidence.
But just because he might leave that fridge door open occasionally or he starts telling, ahem, dad jokes, it doesn’t mean the old rogue isn’t worth honouring.
Favourite food is an obvious place to start a celebration and Father’s Day is no exception, but when it comes to what food to make, have Australian dads evolved beyond incinerated steak and vegetables boiled to submission?
You bet, says delicious. contributor and chef Hayden Quinn. “My old man would have definitely been on the meat and three-veg set-up when he was a kid,” says Quinn. “But Dad has an epic vegie garden at home that we started together when I was a kid and we pull a lot of great produce from that to cook with.
“These days men are more excited to try different things and look for bold flavours as opposed to those more simple staples of yesteryear,” he says.
On Father’s Day when Quinn was a boy he’d rattle the pans for his old man to deliver his favourite treat. “Bacon and eggs, but it definitely would not have been in bed,” he says.
And what would he cook for his father today? “Dad’s favourite is actually fish tacos, and if we’re out or at the pub he can’t go past good fish and chips – flathead only, of course. Both Dad and I love Josh Niland’s fish and chips [from Sydney’s Saint Peter].”
Quinn doesn’t have kids yet, but he has high expectations for his Father’s Day feast when that day arrives.
“I’d want them to have woken early, gone diving and come home with sea urchin to make me uni toast for breakfast,” he laughs.
Unsurprisingly, fish fiend and owner of Saint Peter Josh Niland would serve his dad something similar for Father’s Day. “I’d do breakfast in bed and give him sea urchin crumpet as we serve it at Saint Peter, and a herbal tea,” he says.
“But when we were kids I don’t think my sister’s or my culinary prowess exceeded boiled egg and soldiers, fresh orange juice and coffee,” he says.
Niland and his father share a love of eating beautiful fish without much fuss, like crumbed whiting or grilled flathead, with tartare sauce, of course.
“Scones have always been something both Dad and I really love as well. Whether it’s scones by Gran with raspberry jam and cream or scones by Mum, hot out of the oven with cold butter.”
But Niland agrees that his father is part of a whole generation of men who have altered their perceptions of what constitutes a good meal.
“For years Dad was very much a meat-andthree-veg guy but there was a point where he started eating a lot more green vegetables and diversifying his proteins,” p are definitely he says. more “Men a a aware now of their health and well-being. The restaurant industry has helped shine a light on alternative ingredients and methods of cooking, which has had a trickle-on effect.
“Fish, vegetables and proteins like tofu, quinoa, seeds and nuts are seen now just as frequently on our tables as crucified steak and boiled broccoli was 20 to 25 years ago.”
Of course, Niland is a father himself and should be spoilt by his kids on Father’s Day, too.
“Anything from them would be wonderful, whether it was a coffee or avo on toast.” he says. “But having a crab omelette would be a pretty rockstar way of waking up on Father’s Day.”
Melbourne chef and co-owner of Huxtaburger Daniel Wilson, who recalls cooking poached eggs on toast for his dad every Father’s Day, says his father eventually embraced a more healthy diet.
“Well, he did have a soft spot for a sausage dish cooked in the microwave thanks to the microwave cooking class he did circa 1984,” laughs Wilson.
“These days, though, he loves crispskin Ora King salmon with a nice salad and boiled potatoes with butter, or maybe it’s butter with boiled potatoes.”
Wilson believes men are certainly more adventurous than they were 20-odd years ago and have shaken off the red meat-eating blokey image.
“I believe this is partly due to the absolute melting pot of cuisines available at all levels, but mainly due
p to the fact they probably do it to score brownie points with their more adventurous and perhaps lighter eating ladies or partners,” he laughs.
Wilson has two young daughters who have loved oysters from a very young age, but while their palate is broad, they’re not interested in getting on the pans.
“I’d be happy for them to cook anything – just something – for me,” he laughs. “Unfortunately I get the feeling the only thing they’ll be cooking is a plan to drive me up the wall,” he says.
“We’re going out to our favourite Japanese restaurant, Komeyui, for some delicious sushi and sashimi. I can’t wait.”
Raw fish, steamed rice – perhaps we don’t need to feed the modern man just red meat after all.