Who is Bradley Howden: I am the executive chef of the Canberra Southern Cross Yacht Club and I oversee Snapper & Co.
Best recent dining experience: My best dining experience would probably have to be at Tetsuya’s in Sydney. You can ask any chef and they’ll tell you this place is the best.
The chefs there really appreciate what they do and care about the elegance and presentation of their food, as well as making sure their guests have a great dining experience.
Favourite cuisine: It definitely has to be Southeast Asian. My mother is actually from Indonesia, so it’s the cuisine I grew up with and loved. Most of my cooking comes from her background as well.
Most embarrassing pantry or fridge item: The MSG chicken booster. I can just add it to everything together and it makes everything taste better.
What ingredient can I not live without: Definitely salt – it’s just one of those ingredients that every chef has in their hand when cooking. It’s just like a natural instinct that we use to bring out flavours.
Next big thing in the Canberra food scene: I really want to say more of the farm-to-table kind of aspects of food. It’s about trying not to make foods overcomplicated and making sure that we treat our produce with respect and let it grow organically and naturally, and trying not to push out produce to the point where it doesn’t have any flavour. I think more people need to realise that you need time to let stuff grow to get the best out of their flavours.
Favourite place for lunch in the ACT: Besides having a good lunch at home, anywhere in Canberra that offers Korean BBQ is great. I love going to places like these because you get the chance to sit around a table with your friends and family, and you get to chat, cook together and have a good time.
My go-to coffee spot in Canberra: I can’t say I go out to drink coffee that much to be honest, but when I do, here at work is my go-to! I’m here six days a week, so I drink them as I get through the days.
Favourite coffee? You can’t go wrong with a caramel latte. There’s nothing like that blend of sweet and strong flavours to wake you up in the morning.
A must-try on our menu: For the Yacht Club, definitely our lamb rump. We work closely with our meat suppliers to make sure that everything they’re sending out to us is of great quality and that it reflects in its flavours. We’ve also never had a problem with it and always get plenty of compliments.
For Snapper, it has to be our fish and chips, of course, we’ve got the best in Canberra. We go through a tonne of it in a week sometimes!
Biggest culinary influence: I really look up to people like Dan Hong, a Vietnamese chef in Sydney.
I went to one of his restaurants – Ms G’s – and just his fun and kind of playful aspect on food is one thing I really enjoy. He not only brings flavour to a plate but also brings childhood memories and wow factor to his cooking. It’s something that I don’t really see much.
Favourite cookbook: I’d have to say Alinea by Grant Achatz. It’s named after a restaurant in Chicago that really focuses on the bonding experience and the thoughts behind food processes. It focuses on technique, the dining aspect of guests and just having that aspect of the guest not knowing what’s coming next.
Who I admire in the Canberra food and wine scene: I would say the suppliers. People don’t really understand that here in Canberra, we have some of the best produce in Australia.
What’s the special of the week: At the Canberra Southern Yacht Club, we normally do steaks of the day and at Snapper & Co, we do a fish of the day sort of thing, but it more so depends on us talking to our suppliers and just seeing what’s out there and what’s the best.
We like to find out what meat is aging the best, what fish are being caught and most eaten, and then we look at how we can complement those with different vegetables, grains or flavours that bring out the best of that quality of fish or meat.
Where am I travelling to next: I’m travelling to the States next year. My partner wants to go to Disneyland, so when I’m over there, I will also use it as an opportunity to check out the food scene.
America’s kind of one of those places where they don’t hold back – they just go for it! So, to be able to see the food scene over there will be really interesting, and I’ll be going to Brooklyn and New Orleans and checking out their type of cuisine too.
Dream destination? I really want to go to Antarctica. I know they do boat tours there, so I’d love to make a few trips and be able to say, ‘wow, I’ve actually been on this continent’, and that’s kind of cool.
Death row meal: My mum’s chicken noodle soup. There’s nothing that can beat it!
Every time I’m at her house, she always says, ‘make sure you eat it; otherwise, I won’t be happy’, and it’s just the perfect comfort food and reminds me of all the home-cooked meals I grew up eating throughout my life and childhood. She’s also one of my inspirations that lead me to become a chef.
My least favourite food: Celery! I cannot stand it. The taste, the texture, the smell – I can’t do it.
My favourite vegetable: At the moment, I’m really into pumpkin. I’m not sure why, though. I’ve been trying to do desserts with pumpkin as it’s so versatile. These include things like a dessert pumpkin pie and pumpkin panna cotta.
COVID-19 response: The COVID-19 pandemic was a difficult time for everyone in the hospitality industry. As Canberra Southern Cross Club is a big business and our clubs are not just dependent and our food and dining options, we were lucky to have lots of support during this time.
We didn’t lose our jobs, luckily. We also were lucky that we had the option of doing takeaway for some time, which helped us to make sure that our staff at least got some hours of work so that when we’d open again, we wouldn’t lose them.
I know a lot of places in the industry that lost a lot of people, and now that’s why we’re struggling with hiring people in the hospitality.
My top three recipe tips:
- Cook from the heart.
- Cook what YOU love and want, don’t cook what everyone else wants.
- Use plenty of salt and pepper. It’s quite amazing what you can do with them, and you’d be surprised how many people don’t use them.
They are located in Mariner Place, Yarralumla.