There’s no denying that the rise of the celebrity chef has had a tremendous influence on the public. From the sultry tones of Nigella Lawson to the sweatiness of George Calombaris in the Masterchef kitchen, building restaurant empires seem to go hand in hand with culinary stardom. But there’s a different breed of elite chefs, that aren’t interested in fame. With all the Michelin and hatted kitchen credentials, Matthew Butcher (ex. Vue De Monde, Maze) embarks on a journey that focuses on the essence of being a chef – creating memorable food experience for customers. An exclusive dining experience with Matthew – executive chef at Morris Jones & Co; showcases the creative finesse and quirky stylings of the Aussie chef.
Melbourne weather, it’s unpredictable. Last week, we were giving the winter coat its last hurrah. Now, Melbournians are stuffing the coats back into storage. The sudden 35-degree heatwave, a pleasant surprise, for those of aching to get back out onto the beaches. Conquering the Circuit Trail at Werribee Gorge Park was on our agenda, but first – a quick stop at the picturesque Canola fields that stretch along the Princess highway.
Canola fields are prevalent throughout rural Victoria, but the fields that precede Geelong are closest to the CBD. The fields are actually canola blooms where the flowers’ seeds are crushed and used to make margarine and cooking oils. No doubt, the seemingly endless fields of yellow will inspire eager tourists, but I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to visit. It’s a beautiful sight, but unless you’re a keen photographer – literally, it’s a field of flowers, nothing more. Plan a trip to Geelong or a visit a nearby National Park for a complete day trip. The You Yangs, Macedon Ranges, The Brisbane Ranges and Werribee Gorge State Park are highly recommended for a range of beginner and advanced hikes.
Last Friday the State Government of Victoria were at its most popular. Why? The introduction of the new Grand Final Day public holiday had Victorians celebrating a sweet hurray. Never mind the football. It’s an extra day to soak in the sunshine and fit in an extra day of brunch. Maddox is a Brunswick favourite lighting up the otherwise dingy suburb. Fast forward a few years and Sydney Road is now a cool kids hang out, likened to Fitzroy and Collingwood. Refitted from scratch by Perth couple Marsha Salam and Brendon James, Maddox is an intimate space for quality brunch.
Sam Kekovich says its ‘Un-Australian’ to not eat lamb. Who are we to question the mantra of the silver haired larrikin? Harry’s Restaurant at the 5 star Stamford Plaza Melbourne agrees, launching a new seasonal menu – ‘The Best of Lamb’ from the 6th of October. Executive Chef Ketan Seth presenting the degustation at the Presidential Suite for the pre-launch.
Global influences are observed in dishes, from the Parisian-influenced beef ‘en croute’ rolled in puff pastry, to maple sticky lamb ribs. Greek influence arrives with the ‘a la Mykonos’ lamb burger, served with a tzatziki and hummus spread. Throw in some halloumi cheese for some added ‘Greekness’. Simplicity isn’t forgotten, with good ol’ lamb chops and rump for those that enjoy the classics.
The word ‘Panama’ reminds us of those wide-brimmed hats, that Dads try to pull off at the Races. In the words of Regina George, please stop trying to make Panama hats a thing, it’s not gonna happen. Panama Dining Room is very much a ‘thing’. It’s been a hip and happening ‘thing’ for years, with modern upscale bistro dishes and an atmospheric bar to boot. Walking up a narrow nondescript stairway, we found ourselves slightly puffed from two flights of stairs. Guess those ‘freak shakes’ are taking a toll. Reaching the spacious loft, the sight is quite spectacular. The large arched windows, a conspicuous stand out against the grunginess of Smith Street. A ‘jungle’ theme perpetuates the restaurant with thick greenery and leaf printed booths sitting happy punters. I swear it even smells like watermelon sheesha. The smell lingers on my dress, a nice change from the aroma of ciggies and booze (the signature bar smell).
Demazzi sounds like a cute Italian suburban joint. You’d be half correct, the other half catering for carnivores, with steaks cooked on Stone Grill and layers upon layers of burger patties to make burger fans faint. Located on Mount Alexander Road, across from the confusing as hell roundabout, drive into the petite shopping strip to find a row of Essendon locals. The predominantly Aussie suburb is in the midst of a gastronomic awakening, with cafes slowly catching up to the rest of Melbourne. With a sprinkling of diabetic milkshakes and artery clogging burgers, suddenly Essendon has lifted its cool game.
For Demazzi, the trend of ‘freak shakes’ has ignited a new clientele, seeking the elusive food trend for their Instagramming pleasure. Boy, they are damn good. We’ve tried a fair few, Johnny Pump was an absolute disappointment, Naughty Boy’s exceeded our expectations with house-made ingredients making a great milkshake topper. Unexpectedly, our favourite so far is the Salted caramel shake from Demazzi. Sprinkled with salted caramel popcorn and salted pretzels, it was a harmonious balance of sweet and saltiness. Finished with thick oozy salted caramel and a pillowy waffle, the milkshake itself was not too milky and not too sweet. As Goldilocks would say, ‘it was just right’.
Most 21-year-olds plan their birthday bashes at their community hall, heart pounding clubs or bar hop through graffitied alleyways. Myself, being totes dramatic, wanted to do a skydive to signify the end of an era. What could be more dramatic than jumping out of a plane? I’ve never had a problem with heights, loving the thrill of a rollercoaster ride and catching a lift to the top of a mega skyscraper. Admittedly, jumping out of a plane at 15,000 ft is markedly different. If you’re one of those people that live by the notion of ‘ feeling the fear, and doing it anyway’, skydiving should already be on your bucket list.