Viewpoints from Aussie Cuisine

  • The AussieCuisine team acknowledges that Brisbane Chef James Gallagher is without any doubt an eloquent spokesperson for Australian Cuisine. This talented young chef has a brilliant future, so keep your eyes open to his potential!

  • In terms of the primary influences behind its evolution, Chef Gallagher believes that ‘migration has played a major role in shaping Australian cuisine. Settlers from Europe and America brought with them traditions that they had become accustomed to, as well as ingredients and styles of cooking that allowed people to become more experimental.’

  • Gallagher believes that a major influence on the evolution of our food is that ‘[local] produce has been a key factor in the development of modern Australian cuisine. I believe that chefs today are celebrating Australian produce in a way that has never been seen before. The growth of small producers and artisans supplying top quality ingredients has really boomed over the past few years, and restaurants all over Australia are benefitting from this.’

  • For the untapped potential of Indigenous influences on Australian cuisine to be fully realised, Gallagher believes that: ‘is it vital for young chefs to gain an understanding of Indigenous cultures and their way of life. Indigenous people have a rich agricultural history, and an understanding of the land, that we should all draw inspiration from when creating dishes, if we truly want to define Australian cuisine.’

  • The chef recognises the importance of the Country Woman’s Association in shaping Australian cuisine. ‘The influx of new ingredients allowed the members of the CWA to create new recipes for desserts, cakes and biscuits, such as pavlova and lamingtons, which are still a staple in Australian cuisine today. I think that the CWA inspired a lot of young cooks to try new things and enjoy cooking.’

Head Chef James Gallagher from Brisbane’s Allium Restaurant is interviewed by Dane Richards of AussieCuisine.

“I think that over the past few years there has been a huge push in regards to celebrating Australian produce. I believe that chefs are looking closer to home for inspiration for their menus, and have become more experimental in the process. A key example of someone doing just that is Ben Shewry at Attica, who has carved out his take on Australian cuisine, championing native Australian ingredients. This, in my opinion, will pave the way for many young chefs in the future to create a definitive Australian culinary landscape.”

General

Dane Richards: What is Australian cuisine?

Chef James Gallagher: Australia has one of the most diverse cuisines of anywhere in the world. There is such a melting pot of cultures and influences that have shaped it into what we know today. To me, Australian cuisine is a celebration of all of those influences, and it tells a definitive story of its history.

DR: What do you think were the primary influences behind its evolution?

Chef JG: I believe that migration has played a major role in shaping Australian cuisine. Settlers from Europe and America brought with them traditions that they had become accustomed to, as well as ingredients and styles of cooking that allowed people to become more experimental.

Produce 

DR: How important is the integrity, provenance and sustainability of produce in both inspiring and influencing your dishes?

Chef JG: When we are writing our menus we take many things into account. The sustainability of the produce is very important, so I am quite particular with the suppliers that I choose. It is also important that our produce is traceable, and that we know exactly where it is coming from. We like to use as much local produce as we can and draw inspiration from our surroundings.

DR: What part has produce played in the overall development of modern Australian cuisine?

Chef JG: I believe that produce has been a key factor in the development of modern Australian cuisine. I believe that chefs today are celebrating Australian produce in a way that has never been seen before. The growth of small producers and artisans supplying top quality ingredients has really boomed over the past few years, and restaurants all over Australia are benefitting from this.

DR: What particular produce in your opinion quintessentially represents Australia on a plate?

Chef JG: When I think of Australian cuisine, my mind is always drawn to the ocean. I think that the seafood in Australia is second to none, and offers such a diverse range of products. From the tropical reef fish of Queensland to the cold water species of South Australia, and Tasmania. Seafood is a celebration of Australian coastal living and to me best represents Australian cuisine.

DR: Is Australia properly showcasing the diversity of its produce to international visitors?

Chef JG: I think that over the past few years there has been a huge push in regards to celebrating Australian produce. I believe that chefs are looking closer to home for inspiration for their menus, and have become more experimental in the process. A key example of someone doing just that is Ben Shewry at Attica, who has carved out his take on Australian cuisine, championing native Australian ingredients. This, in my opinion, will pave the way for many young chefs in the future to create a definitive Australian culinary landscape.

Indigenous

DR: How important is it for the untapped potential of Indigenous influence on Australian cuisine to be fully realised?

Chef JG: I believe that is it vital for young chefs to gain an understanding of Indigenous cultures and their way of life. Indigenous people have a rich agricultural history, and an understanding of the land, that we should all draw inspiration from when creating dishes if we truly want to define Australian cuisine.

DR: What native Australian ingredients have you successfully incorporated into your dishes?

Chef JG: There are many native ingredients that we have incorporated into our menus such as Kangaroo, Wattleseed, Macadamia, Wild Rosella, Lemon Myrtle, Salt Bush, Muntries, but my favourite has to be Finger Limes.

DR: Are the hospitality industry, and various levels of government, doing enough to encourage young Indigenous chefs?

Chef JG: I think that as an industry we could be doing more to promote and develop more young indigenous chefs. I believe that they would bring a wealth of knowledge and cultural influences to any professional kitchen. I would like to see a program put together, that would support young indigenous people, and show them the benefits of working within the hospitality industry. I believe a program like this would strengthen the industry and I would happily support this.

DR: What is your understanding of bush tucker?

Chef JG: My understanding of bush tucker is a referral to ingredients, or produce that is native to Australia.

Regional

DR: How influential was the CWA to Australian cuisine in the post-war years?

Chef JG: I believe that the Country Woman’s Association played a major role in shaping Australian cuisine, into what we know it as of today. The influx of new ingredients allowed the members of the CWA to create new recipes for desserts, cakes and biscuits, such as pavlova and lamingtons, which are still a staple in Australian cuisine today. I think that the CWA inspired a lot of young cooks to try new things and enjoy cooking.

DR: What is your quintessential memory of an iconic regional Australian dish?

Chef JG: My quintessential memory of an iconic regional Australian dish would have to be freshly shucked oysters on my first visit to Tasmania, not really a dish, but just a perfect ingredient in an idyllic setting, shared with great company – which is what I think Australian cuisine represents.

DR: Did the foundations of regional cuisine influence modern Australian cuisine in any way?

Chef JG: I believe that the foundations of regional cuisine, has played a key role in influencing modern Australian cuisine. Different approaches to creating dishes have helped shape the way that we cook today. Australia has a diverse range of microclimates, from region to region, that we draw inspiration from in terms of sourcing our ingredients and putting menus together.

DR: Do you think regional cuisine of recent times has developed its own sense of sophistication and identity?

Chef JG: I think there has definitely been a rise in the popularity of regional restaurants in recent years. I do believe there is a sense of unique identity within these regional restaurants, where most of them are living off the land if you like, and are becoming self-sufficient. I think it is inspiring a new generation of chefs to think outside the box and to step outside their comfort zone.

Image:

Salins, C. (17 January 2017). Prive 249, Sofitel Brisbane. Food Wine Travel. Retrieved from https://www.foodwinetravel.com.au/food/dining-out/prive249-sofitel-brisban e