Viewpoints from Aussie Cuisine
For chef William Cowper, Australian cuisine can be defined as ‘local produce, put together with international influences’. Australian chefs are increasingly emphasising the use of fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable foods, focusing on a produce-driven menu with the influence of diverse international cuisines.
‘Farmers play a big part in being able to supply chefs with consistent produce. Chefs are asking more of their suppliers to source new and exciting products to cook with’, points out Chef Cowper. Leading Aussie chefs have a reputation for being demanding in relation to their produce. Invariably, talented chefs who use only the finest produce will create the best quality dishes. Being able to cook with new produce means that our chefs have more knowledge and freedom to explore new techniques, new recipes, and new cuisines.
Additionally, Australia has the world’s third largest fishing zone and is one of the world’s largest red meat exporters, which guarantees a wide availability of fresh local seafood and beef for our chefs. In Cowper’s words: ‘We have some of the best seafood and beef, most other countries pay a high price to have it available to them.’
Chef William Cowper from OTTO Ristorante Brisbane, sister restaurant to OTTO Sydney, chats with Dane Richards of Aussie Cuisine.
“Australian produce is able to be showcased in such a variety of cuisines. Being such a multicultural country, our produce is used in so many ways for overseas guests to enjoy. We should not only focus on showcasing our produce for International guests, we should showcase it to all diners, making our produce more relevant.”
Dane Richards: What is Australian cuisine?
Chef Will Cowper: Local produce, put together with international influences.
DR: What do you think were the primary influences behind its evolution?
Chef Will C: With so many different cultures migrating to Australia, this has been a primary influence. Technology: farmers can produce a consistent supply of native products for chefs to use. Understanding of produce; now native ingredients are readily available to chefs, and they are being more adventurous.
DR: How important is the integrity, provenance and sustainability of produce in both inspiring and influencing your dishes?
Chef Will C: Living in QLD, the local produce on your doorstep is both outstanding and exciting. Not using them is impossible as a chef. Using sustainable produce is imperative for the longevity of supply for future chefs to enjoy.
DR: What part has produce played in the overall development of Modern Australian Cuisine?
Chef Will C: Farmers play a big part in being able to supply chefs with consistent produce. Chefs are asking more of their suppliers, to source new and exciting products to cook with. The produce in Australia is some of the best in the world.
DR: What particular produce in your opinion quintessentially represents Australia on a plate?
Chef Will C: Seafood, and, or beef. We have some of the best seafood and beef, most other countries pay a high price to have it available to them.
DR: Is Australia properly showcasing the diversity of its produce to international visitors?
Chef Will C: Australian produce is able to be showcased in such a variety of cuisines. Being such a multicultural country, our produce is used in so many ways for overseas guests to enjoy. We should not only focus on showcasing our produce for International guests, we should showcase it to all diners, making our produce more relevant.
DR: How important is it for the untapped potential of Indigenous influence on Australian Cuisine to be fully realised?
Chef Will C: Chefs both need to understand, and be taught the produce of their founders. The more knowledge we have, the more we can incorporate into our dishes. We need to be open to new things.
DR: What native Australian ingredients have you successfully incorporated into your dishes?
Chef Will C: Finger limes, wattle seed, macadamia nuts, and lemon myrtle.
DR: Are the hospitality industry, and various levels of government, doing enough to encourage young Indigenous chefs?
Chef Will C: All young chefs should be encouraged equally. Women, men, Indigenous, and otherwise.
DR: What is your understanding of bush tucker?
Chef Will C: Witchetty grubs, warrigal greens, bush tomatoes, and samphire. Food sourced from the land for immediate eating.
DR: What is your quintessential memory of an iconic regional Australian dish?
Chef Will C: Not many countries say they eat their animals on their coat of arms. But I think anything from the BBQ, a good meat pie, or vegemite.
DR: Did the foundations of regional cuisine influence modern Australian cuisine in any way?
Chef Will C: With so much multicultural influence, the regional cuisine has become anything. You will now find a Chinese or Italian restaurant, in a regional pub.
DR: Do you think regional cuisine of recent times has developed its own sense of sophistication and identity?
Chef Will C: All regions are producing exciting and sophisticated food showcasing what Australia has to offer.
Flavours of Brisbane: OTTO Ristorante’s lobster spaghetti. (17 March 2017). Visit Brisbane. Retrieved from https://www.visitbrisbane.com.au/the-city/news/chef-recipes-otto-brisbane?sc_lang=en-au