What started from humble beginnings cooking up a storm on the side of the road has evolved and expanded to feed Canberrans from all walks of life.
The Spit Shack began trading on the Kings Highway, 20 km past Braidwood. In a vacant country paddock, every morning in a tiny food trailer, the fire was started and the spit prepared with specially seasoned pork and lamb. As the smell of the meat wafted through the air, word soon spread and crowds quickly gathered to eat the simply prepared but delicious pork and lamb rolls.
Inspired by the flavours and recipes of their Croatian family background and heritage, owners Kresimir Spelic, Goran Spelic and Steve Brozinic have since traded in roadside dining. Now they have two permanent locations in Mitchell and Pialligo with an expanded menu of meats, meat pies and Bureks, but the same focus and belief that great food is about passion and simplicity.
“We have specialist chefs Tomislav Panduric, Kile Tenzin and Dragan Petreski on board who have perfected the recipes and food we sell. Tomislav is a top-rated Croatian chef from Zagreb. Having worked for several top Croatian restaurants we managed to poach him and brought him to Canberra. He hand makes the Cevapcici (small skinless sausages) from a 300-year-old traditional recipe, along with Raznjici (pork skewers) and Pljeskavica (hamburger patty) and Sarma (cabbage rolls filled with pork and veal mince),” Kresimir told Region Media.
“Kile is the Spit Roastmaster. He brings pure love and dedication. Dragan is a specialist burek baker from Macedonia whose family has been making bureks for three generations. You have never seen thinner pastry and he throws it in the air as if he is making pizza. The fresh homemade Burek is made daily and is available to eat hot in-store or frozen to cook at home.”
For our lunch visit to the Mitchell location on busy Lysaght St, we tried the Pork Classic Roll. Spit-roasted and cooked on an open fire, the meat was succulent, and the crunch of the added crackling juxtaposed the chewy soft roll covered in gravy and apple sauce perfectly. It was uncomplicated and simple, but full of flavour and a contender for Canberra’s best sandwich. It is the kind of sandwich that builds a loyal following and you would happily queue for on the side of the road, or anywhere else for that matter.
Paired with fries and gravy, it is a lunchtime trifecta. Everything has been perfected, from the source of the chips to the size of them. The Spit Shack lives their ethos of doing simple food passionately.
Kresimir said: “We must have gone through 13 or so different chip varieties until we settled on our chip. Not many people know that most chips in Australia are imported from the US and that very few are Australian. Australian potatoes have a much better starch content and hence offer a better chip. After experimenting with various wedges, 10 mm chips and steak fries, we agreed that the 7 mm thin French fry was what we wanted.
“Then the next part is the seasoning. Once again, we experimented with various seasonings and attended various Food Trade EXPOS in Sydney and Melbourne, before deciding on our own special seasoning mix which we prepare ourselves and is based on over 16 ingredients.”
The Spit Shack can be found at 83 Lysaght St, Mitchell (open Monday to Wednesday 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, and Thursday to Saturday 7:00 am to late) and 22A Beltana Road, Pialligo (next to Rodney’s Nursery, Monday to Sunday 8:00 am to 3:00 pm).