Anvers’ Lamb Backstrap with Chimichurri

T Australia sat down with Anvers’ Head Chef Michael Ielasi to talk about winding down after service, batch cooking for midweek dinners at home, and the excitement of starting a venue from scratch.

Article by Phoebe Tully

Anvers Adelaide HillsPhotography courtesy Anvers.

Situated in the renowned Adelaide Hills in South Australia, the Anvers cellar door was originally an old dairy built in 1949. Wayne and Myriam Keoghan then established Anvers Wines in 1998 with the philosophy of producing only premium wines from low-yielding vineyards and is now renowned for being a Halliday 5 star rated winery producing estates wines, including fortifieds.

The newly built and thoughtfully designed restaurant, cellar door and function space marks an exciting new era for the estate. We sat down with Anver’s Head Chef Michael Ielasi to find out what’s inspiring him at the moment, how he unwinds after service, and where he enjoys dining on his days off.

Anvers Adelaide Hills
Head Chef Michael Ielasi. Photography courtesy Anvers.

On becoming a chef…

A friend was opening a restaurant and asked if I was interested in helping out on the floor, which was very short lived. I was not very good, so I was told to go help in the kitchen as they were needing some extra hands at the time.

On life before Anvers…

I was at a large Italian restaurant at the bay, on the marina. A beautiful spot.

On what drives him each day…

Of course, cooking and seeing happy customers walk out the door after their meals keeps me motivated, but also working with people that are driven to give a great experience to the customer and have a good time doing it! A fun environment is always nice to be part of.

On unwinding after service…

Going home to my family always puts me in a good mindset. It doesn’t matter how the day went when I get home to them.

Anvers Adelaide Hills
Photography courtesy Anvers.

On what he’s enjoying experimenting with…

My passion will always be Mediterranean flavours. I am lucky that I get to use quality produce and have a well-equipped kitchen to be able to refine the food that bit more.

On cooking at home…

At home is very basic as I have two young children and my wife works full time. We need to keep it simple and easy. We keep a chest freezer full of base sauces and portioned steak and fish that we make in batches together to make our life easy during the week.

On what he’s most excited about at the moment…

The venue is brand new and has no real existing clientele or format to run from, so being able to put all these things in place from the start and build is very rewarding. We also have a lot of plans for the future, which is exciting to work towards.

On the chefs who inspire him…

The Restaurant Botanic (with chef Justin James) is doing amazing food and experiences. I have always been a huge fan of Hently Farm and their work, as well as Appellation at The Louise in the Barossa.

Anvers Adelaide Hills
Photography courtesy Anvers.

Anver’s Chimchurri Lamb Backstrap

Serves 4

1kg lamb backstrap/loin
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
2 tbsp smoked paprika
4 garlic cloves
1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1 large red chilli, deseeded
150ml sherry vinegar
500ml grapeseed oil

Toast the cumin, coriander, fennel and mustard seeds until fragrant, and then grind into a fine powder.

Mix the ground spices with all other ingredients, except for the lamb and the oil. Blend to a fine paste.

Add the oil in a steady stream until well incorporated. Season with sea salt, and then cover the lamb with the paste to marinate. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight if time permits.

Chargrill lamb over coals for best results, or alternatively barbecue it. Cook to medium at most, to keep the fillet from drying out. Rest for a few minutes, then slice and serve.