Matt Moran’s Chiswick is hosting a month-long celebration to celebrate 10 years in Woollahra. “Our birthday menu is something we’re particularly proud of”, says head chef Taylor Cullen. “It’s been a really collaborative process, where we’ve taken some of our staff and guest’s favourite dishes from the past decade and updated them with ingredients that are representative of what’s inspiring us now and ingredients that will continue to play a larger role in our menus into the future.
“Our menus will have a greater presence of native ingredients, an increase in plant-based options (such as our Bombe Alaska which can now also be made with vegan meringue from aquafaba) and as always, an abundance of ingredients from the garden that are planted with each seasonal menu in mind”.
In creating Chiswick’s 10th birthday menu, Moran and Cullen have utilised produce grown on site, as well as from some of the best local suppliers to create a menu that pays tribute to signature dishes from the past decade while looking ahead to the next ten. Menu highlights include baramasalata with Chiswick flat bread and grilled peppers with harissa, river mint and “crispies” to start; butterflied trout with trout roe and Chiswick garden herb dressing; and slow cooked lamb shoulder with hummus, tabouli and mint salsa for mains; with a fig and macadamia bombe alaska to finish.
T Australia sat down with Cullen to talk about his pathway to the Chiswick pass – and managed to coax the lamb shoulder recipe out of him too.
On becoming a chef…
I grew up in a restaurant, working for pocket money. Seeing my mum and dad’s passion for food and hospitality made me fall in love with the industry from a young age – when you own a small restaurant, you put your heart and soul into it, and that’s exactly what they did. The staff were family, all outcasts [who] came over on Christmas and holidays. Hospitality was always very much a part of our family and lives.
On life before Chiswick…
I grew up in New Zealand, but got my first real gig at Longitude 131 restaurant in the Northern Territory, which is where I developed a love of native ingredients and learnt about the importance of sustainable produce. I then travelled through France, Spain and Portugal, where I was lucky enough to work in some incredible Michelin restaurants before settling in the USA as a private chef. Arriving back in Australia, I took up residence in Sydney fine dining restaurants Bridge Room, Paperbark, Bennelong and Woodcut before joining Bondi Harvest as head chef, which is where I was before joining Chiswick.
On produce as inspiration…
When you come in and see fresh, dirty veg or fish with rainbow colours in the flesh, or you get in the garden and smell the mint – it fills you with joy and passion. Transferring that passion to a plate, with staff who know the importance of their job and people who pay to experience the transformation of those beautiful ingredients, who meet you with a smile and a thank you – that’s what it’s all about. When that all comes together, the blood, sweat and tears are all worth it.
On unwinding after service…
I run the dog on the beach, play the banjo, then put my legs up the wall to help circulation after a long day on my feet, and put on a podcast to learn something.
On his favourite ingredients at the moment…
I love autumn and winter. The flavours get richer, the colours get darker and people want to feel warmth. At the moment I’m fermenting fruit or vegetable juices, to take a little of the freshness out while keeping the integrity of the flavour, then using that as a base for a dressing or flavour enhancer – for example, slowly cooking beetroot in fermented beetroot juice and apple juice, then turning the juice into a glaze for the vegetable itself.
On cooking at home…
l love aglio e olio or cacio e pepe if coming home late after work or from running a muck on the town; or good cuts of steak, butterflied chicken on the barbecue with lots of spices, served with green veg and mustard on a quiet night in.
On the excitement at Chiswick…
I’ve always had a real passion for the use of local produce and sustainable ingredients in cooking, and that’s something that I’ve really connected with at Chiswick through the venue’s planted-to-plated ethos; and something that we’re ramping up even more in the venue’s 10th year and through our current 10th birthday menu.
It’s all the Chiswick classics people have come to love over the years, but with even more native ingredients, plant-based options and produce from the kitchen garden. Working closely with our head horticulturist, Pete Hatfield, has been a real treat also – planting with menu items in mind and witnessing those seasonal veggies growing in the garden. We also try to keep the culture thriving through tastings and outings as a team; and the venue itself doesn’t hurt either – with the incredible lawn and flowers growing inside the venue.
On other chefs he admires…
Anthony Schifilliti at Sixpenny is doing amazing things; and I’m excited to see Tom Gorringe make his mark on Aria, he’s super talented and a good human – we started in our roles at the same time, and it’s nice to feel that support.
Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Hummus & Mint
“Our famous lamb dish has appeared in various different iterations through the years and this is one of our favourites. This version has many steps and you can save some time by buying the hummus or a store bought couscous salad – it will still be delicious.”
1 lamb shoulder, bone in (approximately 1.3kg)
1 rosemary sprig
2 garlic cloves
2L chicken stock
300ml chicken stock, boiling
100g garlic cloves
100g grapeseed oil
150g cooked chickpeas
25ml olive oil
1 confit garlic clove (refer to recipe)
½ lemon, juice only
1 tsp ground cumin
½ cup of water
1 bunch mint, picked
¼ bunch parsley, picked
1 clove garlic
200ml grape seed oil
30ml chardonnay vinegar
250ml rice wine vinegar
125ml chardonnay vinegar
75g caster sugar
½ tsp black peppercorns
¼ tsp yellow mustard seeds
½ tbs salt
½ red chilli
Tomato and Chickpea Salad
1 small punnet cherry tomatoes (halved)
80g cooked couscous
250ml pickling liquor (refer to recipe)
½ Spanish onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 leaves of basil, coriander, dill and parsley
10g classic dressing (refer to recipe)
600g table salt
400g caster sugar
4g black pepper
2g juniper berries
25ml chardonnay vinegar
25ml champagne vinegar
15ml lemon juice
175ml grapeseed oil
1tsp Dijon mustard
1 pinch of salt
To cook the couscous, place couscous into a heatproof bowl and pour over the
boiling chicken stock. Cover with a lid and leave to sit for 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and leave to cool.
To make the brine, place all the ingredients into a saucepan. Place on a high heat and bring to the boil. Pass the brine through a fine sieve. Place in a fridge to cool. Place the lamb shoulder into the cold brine for three hours. Take out and pat dry.
For the confit garlic, add the garlic and oil to a pot and cook on a low heat for
one hour. Just simmer the garlic until it is completely cooked. Take off the heat and let cool. Store in the fridge.
For the classic dressing, in a small mixing bowl, place the vinegars, lemon juice
and mustard. Using a whisk, whisk all ingredients until they are combined then whilst still continuously whisking start slowly adding to the oil until all oil has been used and the dressing is emulsified. Season to taste.
Preheat oven to 110 degrees. Place the lamb in a baking tray with the garlic, rosemary and chicken stock. Cover the tray with foil and place in the oven for 5-6 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone (this could take up to 8 hours depending on the oven).
Place all hummus ingredients apart from the water into a food processor and blend until smooth. If the mix is too thick add the water bit by bit until you get a smooth puree consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the mint salsa, place half the oil in a blender with the garlic and parsley and blend until smooth. Add in the mint and continue blending and slowly add in the leftover oil until the salsa is a smooth consistency. Take out and place in a mixing bowl. Mix in the chardonnay vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the couscous salad, in a small container, place the sliced onion. For the pickling liquid, place all ingredients into a medium saucepan and place on a medium to high heat and bring to a simmer, allow to simmer for 10 mins before removing from the heat, place the sliced onion in a heat proof bowl and pour the pickling liquid over the onion until covered. Cover with cling film
and leave to cool. Once the onions are cooled, strain them from the pickling
liquor and place them in a mixing bowl with the couscous, cherry tomatoes, basil, coriander and mint. Lightly dress the salad in the classic dressing.
Serve the lamb with the hummus, chickpea salad and a good spoon or two of the mint salsa over the top.