Once a transient internet radio station, Melbourne’s Hope St Radio now permanently resides in the Collingwood Yards serving a seasonally-changing menu helmed by head chef Ellie Bouhadana. Bringing together a love of food and music, Bouhadana’s dishes adhere to an equally creative template. “At the moment my garden is flowing with beautiful peppery rocket leaves. I am enjoying picking at them and using them in different dishes,” says Bouhadana. “I look forward to broadbean season every year, and at the moment it is spring and they are abundant. I love shucking them in the sun and throwing them into a white ragu.”
From Thursday, October 20, Bouhadana will be bringing Hope St Radio’s food, music and natural wine curation to Sydney’s Paramount House Hotel for a two-day residency. Ahead of the three-event series, we sat down with Bouhadana to find out what’s on her after-house cooking rotation, the other venues she’s excited about and her recipe for scallop crudo with radish, blood orange and fennel oil.
On becoming a chef …
I grew up in a Jewish home, with immigrant parents and grandparents, constantly surrounded by food and big, chaotic family meals. There were always aunties, grandparents, and my mother in the kitchen, cooking, talking and snacking, and I was always around, watching, asking, tasting. I think those experiences filled me with a sense of pleasure in food, cooking and gathering around a dining table. At a certain point I knew I wanted to live a life surrounded by food. Becoming a cook in a restaurant felt like a good way to explore that, so I began working in kitchens and doing my own pop-ups.
On what drives her …
I wish that the hospitality world wasn’t seen as such a relentless industry. The physical labour involved shouldn’t necessarily be looked down upon. At the same time, I don’t think it should be romanticised either. Maybe we need to rethink what the food / hospitality world can be. It is definitely hard work and can be exhausting but I know a lot of people who enjoy it because of the creative outlet it gives.
On unwinding after service …
After service I have a glass of wine with a couple of my chefs. Once I get home I usually butter a piece of toast and layer it with a couple slices of gouda. I usually sit on the kitchen bench and eat it, then I have a really hot shower and get into bed. Depending on how hectic dinner service was, my dreams can be pretty intense (last week I had a weird dream about baby leeks and all the different ways I could plate them for the menu), so having a moment to myself before bed is important.
On what she cooks at home …
The food I cook at home isn’t dissimilar from the food I cook at Hope St. I like making balls of labneh and keeping them under oil in the fridge. On the weekend before going to work sometimes my family will come over and I will cook a small meal to eat with them. I like slicing up baby vegetables like radishes and endive leaves and covering them in a lemony, garlic vinaigrette. I’ll swipe some of that labneh on a plate to eat with it, and put out some baguette. I like buying an easy cut of meat like minute steaks or lamb rump and searing them quickly, using all the leftover flavour in the pan as a base in which to char spring onions, then I will cover the meat in an acidic, anchovy-laden green sauce.
On what she’s most excited about at the moment …
Hope St is almost two years old. We have been so lucky to be a part of some really cool collaborations, it is always very exciting exploring food concepts with other people [and] places – most recently that is with the beautiful Paramount House Hotel. I have always enjoyed cooking food that has a sense of family, gentleness and warmth, and I feel grateful that there are people out there that are interested in eating this kind of food. It is exciting because it gives me a chance to explore the food of my family and food traditions I grew up with. To cook this kind of intimate ‘dinner party’ food in a restaurant setting and to hopefully leave people feeling moved and wanting more of these types of simple plates feels exciting. Also, pouring my heart into a permanent pressed publication is something very exciting. I am publishing a cookbook next year and it is full with these kinds of unpretentious recipes and the food I like to eat.
On the other venues on her radar …
I am always excited by chef Tom Sarafian’s food, it is so real and unpretentious. I haven’t yet eaten at Baba’s Place in Marrickville, Sydney, but I cannot wait to go during our Sydney trip. The food chef Jean-Paul El Tom makes is a beautiful exploration of family traditions and immigrant food, something I deeply resonate with and hope to bring about in my own food. Chef Rosheen Kaul is a beautiful cook and friend I have admired for a long time. Her food is always true to herself, she is honest and that is very powerful in the food world.
Hope St Radio’s Scallop Crudo with Radish, Blood Orange and Fennel Oil
9 very fresh, sashimi-grade scallops
2 watermelon radishes
2 ruby red radishes
Extra virgin olive oil
Blood orange and fennel dressing
½ tsp fennel seeds, toasted
1 ½ tsp lemon juice
Zest of ½ a lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp blood orange olive oil – you can buy this at specialty delis. If you can’t find this, substitute with the blood orange oil recipe below. You will need one blood orange and extra virgin olive oil
Substitute for the blood orange oil
Place a small saucepan over a low flame and pour in 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add the skin of one blood orange and 1 tbsp of blood orange juice and stir. Bring this to a gentle simmer then turn off the heat. Leave the orange peel steeped in the olive oil for at least an hour, or until it is cool.
To make the blood orange and fennel dressing
Grind the fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle so that they turn into a textured powder. Place the fennel into a small mixing bowl, then add in the lemon juice, lemon zest, a pinch of flakey salt and the blood orange oil. Whisk this together and taste, making sure there is a good amount of acid from the lemon juice (add another teaspoon of lemon juice if it needs a little more acid). Strain the dressing through a sieve, mashing the fennel seeds through the sieve so that some of the fennel powder seeps into the strained oil (this will give some texture to the final dressing).
Place a scallop down flat on a cutting board and slice through the middle so that you have two discs. Repeat this process with all the scallops. Place the scallops on a cold platter, overlapping them slightly.
Using a mandoline, slice the radishes very finely so that they are round and paper thin. Place the radishes over the scallops, making sure to balance a variety of sizes and colours over the plate to make the dish look interesting and patterned.
Spoon the blood orange and fennel dressing over the scallops and radishes (you may not need all of it). Season the scallops and radishes with flakey salt and serve straight away.