17 November 2020

Five minutes with Anthony Iannelli, Terra restaurant

| Michelle Rowe
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Anthony Iannelli

Terra co-owner Anthony Iannelli. Photo: Supplied.

Who is Anthony Iannelli: I’m co-owner (wine drinker/bludger) with Sunga Son (chef/the hardworking one) at Terra in Marcus Clarke Street, City West.

Best recent dining experience: We ate at Quay in Sydney a few weeks ago which was unreal, but that’s kind of expected given they’ve had three chef hats for 18 years in a row.

Most embarrassing pantry item: I spend 99 per cent of my time at either Terra, in which Sunga is cooking, or at my fruit shop, The Food Forum in Belconnen, which is like my own massive pantry, so my pantry at home is pretty empty. So I’m going to throw Sunga under the bus and let everyone know that he has a massive stash of SPAM in his pantry. He says, “It is delicious bro, perfect for everything.” I know, disgusting right!?

Must-buy ingredient: Good bread (Three Mills Bakery, Dom’s Woodfired Gourmet Bread, Pangallo’s Homemade Italian Bread) and good extra virgin olive oil.

Orange and raisin loaf, Three Mills Bakery

Three Mills Bakery’s moreish orange and raisin loaf. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

Next big thing: I don’t know if it’s because the internet knows I’ll blow all my cash on natural wines so it just keeps feeding them to me, but it seems to me like natty wines (made without pesticides, chemicals or additives) are popping up everywhere at the moment.

Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: It’s pretty even between High Road in Dickson, Rebel Rebel in the city and Barrio Collective Coffee in Braddon. I really enjoy the atmosphere at High Road and the coffee and food is consistently good. Barrio’s food specials probably aren’t your standard breakfast fare but are always delicious. And then you have Rebel Rebel … breakfast shawarma? Need I say more?

My Canberra food secret:

  1. Go to 1or2 Café in Manuka.
  2. Ask Frank to make you a pasta.
  3. Don’t ask questions.
  4. Enjoy!
  5. Bonus points for ordering three pastas between two people.

Biggest culinary influence: The first person would probably be my Dad for consistently yelling at me in the fruit shop and on the farm for the first 25 years of my life. You work out the difference between good and bad produce pretty quickly like that. The second would be Sunga. As far as what we do at Terra I would probably say Burnt Ends in Singapore – the epitome of a great barbecue restaurant.

Sunga Son

Terra chef Sunga Son at the rotisserie. Photo: Supplied.

Favourite cookbook: The Black Axe Mangal by Lee Tiernan. Everything about it is sick so I just find myself reading it for enjoyment (though I’m yet to actually use a recipe from it).

As far as actually using a cookbook it would be Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking & Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. We make all our own sausages at Terra and this book is like sausage 101 – a really good starting point for your recipes and then you can just flex them from there.

Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: Pilot in Ainslie. Those guys are killing it. Every part of the experience is dialled, even the small things, like they will bring you some bread and before you finish it they’ll tell you to save a bit for the next dish, then when the next dish comes out you’re super glad that you did.

For me it’s those little things that make it a complete experience, not just a good meal. And also Bar Rochford, easily one of the best bars in the country. The food is awesome, the wine list is awesome, the tunes are always on point and all the staff know their stuff.

Bar Rochford

Bar Rochford’s cool interiors. Photo: Supplied.

Where I’m going next: Me and the Mrs had a massive list of places we were supposed to visit in Melbourne (Bar Liberty, Minamishima, Capitano, Di Stasio Citta) for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival at the start of the year but COVID threw quite a large spanner in that works. So next on the hit list is Africola in Adelaide. I’m going to Adelaide soon to visit some vegetable growers and I’ve always wanted to go there.

Death row meal: Blood sausage sanga from Sydney’s Ester restaurant, Burnt Ends’ toast, tomatoes, lardo, the burger that Canadian chef and TV personality Matty Matheson did with LP’s Quality Meats in Sydney, and whatever meat is on at Terra that day with miso gravy, veal schnitzel and a side of nonna’s pasta and meatballs, finished with a slice of the Mrs’ cheesecake.

What’s on the menu this week: At the time of writing this it’s pig head bossam. We put a full pig head on the rotisserie for about six hours and then we send the whole thing to the table with oysters, ssamjang Korean dipping sauce, lettuce leaves and pickles.

My COVID-19 response: We always joked about canning dinner service and becoming a charcoal chicken shop. So the day they announced the COVID restrictions of one person every 4 metres square, we started working on that concept and then we pretty much had it ready to roll out by the time they stopped all dine-ins.

We went from doing service six days and three nights a week to seven days, seven nights. We set up our own order and delivery platform and then a makeshift bottleshop inside the shop. We just wanted to make the best of a bad situation I guess. Now we’re doing a hybrid of takeaway and dine-in.

Cook like a professional … with a really simple recipe:

This one is from Sunga’s bag of tricks … add MSG, like ‘Shin Ramen’ instant noodle seasoning powder or something. Instant flavour!

Terra is located in No Name Lane, 40 Marcus Clarke Street, City West. It’s open Monday to Friday, 7:30 am to 9:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am to 9:00 pm.

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