What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?
I grew up in Scotland in a half Scottish and Half Italian family, the mixture of the two cultures always fascinated me. My first memory was a shop I used to go with my Dad and Nonno called Fazzi Bros. on Clyde Street in Glasgow – it was in the heart of the city on the river Clyde. But when you walked into that shop you were transported to Italy. The smells of the prosciutto, the salami’s the hot slated focaccia and all the herbs and noise and everyone talking a mixture of English and Italian it was very exotic and warm and always felt like a treat as a kid.
What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?
Cultural relevance, growing up in with mixed cultures I suppose it always felt natural that cooking, that eating is a cultural experience. In Australia I have spent a lot of time in different Aboriginal communities throughout the country over the last 15 years and have learnt and am still learning so much about the food culture of those first Australians, that obviously has had the biggest impact I think on what I cook today. Also filming Nomad Chef and travelling to those incredible remote villages all over the world left me both humbled and inspired.
Describe your culinary style.
Natural – I cook with respect to culture and environment.
Can you tell us which chefs you trained under and what you learnt?
In a professional kitchen my biggest inspiration was Marco Pierre White. He was a fearless pioneer and I was very lucky to work with him and learn from him especially during the 90’s there was something magical about that time. But again the biggest “training” the place I have learnt the most is with the elders in community , that has been my greatest training and has had the biggest impact on what I do today. Learning so much about how not only how they cook but about their cultural relationship with the land. How country will provide and about the 6 seasons about the always giving back as custodians of this land not owners about listening to nature and asking when it is time to eat certain foods about healing about so so much.
What are your most indispensable ingredients?
Respect, fire and curiosity
What do you think is so special about Australian produce?
We have an incredible eco system that not only allows us to grow an enormous mind blowing variety of native wild ingredients but that also allows us to grow ingredients from other countries that almost become better versions of themselves. Its not only the soil and the climate it is the dedicated and passionate and often wonderfully obsessed artisan producers throughout Australia that I have met and have been lucky to work with.
What kind of experience do you aim to give guests at the restaurant?
At Orana I was my guests to have a complete taste of Australia. That represents this amazing country, a taste that represents the cultural identity of Australia today that reaches from the first Australians through to the myriad of settlers like myself. I want them to have a gastronomic snapshot if you like so side by side they can taste the indigenous and wild through to the farmed and artisan I have mentioned above. I want my guests Australian and non Australian to leave the restaurant feeling they have experienced a gastronomic connection with country.
What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?
Opening Orana. It was a dream that I had for many many years and to be honest when I first wanted to do it , it actually wouldn’t have been possible. Times have moved on and chefs like Rene Redzepi and Alex Atala and so many others all over the world are touching on the similar energies so finally I had a window.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self, starting out a career in the world of food?
None, not one bit. Everything I am, everything I am doing is as a result of the decisions, the mistakes, the luck and the journey. I am exactly where I wasn’t to be in my life and honestly I didn’t take the easy road that’s for sure, but I am where I am today because of the journey I travelled.
What’s next for you/Whats projects do you have lined up?
As always juggling six different things at once! At the moment I am planningan event for South Australia to launch Tasting Australia, a big event in Adelaide being held thisyear. I’m also doing a dinner for the Sydney Good Food Festival at Silvereye with chef Sam Miller, then Im opening up LSD (Love St Diner) in Heartbreaker in Melbourne – good food for the late night drinkers.Then in November I’m off to WA to Gourmet Escape in Margaret River which is an event I do ever year because it is so so much fun meeting great people and old friends.
What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?
The Fat Duck, I went during the soft opening when the place was still being decorated and I can’t wait to go back. What Heston is doing there is nothing short of groundbreaking. He is an incredible talent the man is just one of the most creative people I have ever met and above all of that – he is an all round nice bloke and a friend.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Well I actually created a dish for Krug Champagne entitled,‘Guilty Pleasures with Krug’, which consists ofvery decadent hand dived Kangaroo Island scallops with pancetta served in a good old-fashioned roll. Best accompaniedby Krug and enjoyed al fresco!
Hand-dived Kangaroo Island scallops with pancetta
1 Hamburger roll
Thinly sliced flat peppered pancetta
Mayo cut with 50% creme fraiche
1/2 a lemon
First pan fry the pancetta till golden brown both sides and leave aside to drain on kitchen paper.Then pan fry the scallops in the fat that remains in the pancetta pan – golden brown first side then light brown second with seasoning. Remove from pan and sit on kitchen paper to drain, squeeze of lemon juice on each scallop.Toast the outside of the buns only, cut in half then HP sauce on one side and mayo mix on the other. Insert scallops on the HP side, top with plenty of the now crispy pancetta, place the lid on and serve with the oldest possible Krug Champagne you can afford.
Find out more about Jock’s culinary career