Best recent dining experience: White Chaco in Braddon. It’s a great little hole-in-the-wall hidden secret. I think I ate a bit of everything. I asked them to please just feed us, and they did. My favourite dishes were probably the soup dumplings and the seared scallop sashimi.
Most embarrassing pantry item: Chocolate. I love it – particularly Lindt dark chocolate mint.
Must-buy ingredient: Good-quality flake salt. I need to season everything. Also, Kewpie mayo – you can put that on anything.
Next big thing: I think that with the cost of meat products rising, there has been, and will be, a drive to look at more vegetable-based offerings. Local produce from well-farmed, sustainable organic producers.
Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: I always find myself going back to Edgar’s, our first place in Ainslie, for breakfast. I love the mushrooms and pesto on sourdough toast with poached eggs, along with a macchiato.
My Canberra food secret: KYO Coffee Project in Braddon, a tiny place hidden in a courtyard off Lonsdale Street. They have great sandwiches for lunch and it’s the perfect place for a quick meeting.
Biggest culinary influence: I have always watched what Justin Hemmes has done through his Sydney hospitality group Merivale. The ability to create world-class experiences is something that influences me.
I’m also a big fan of Lennox Hastie, who runs Firedoor in Sydney’s Surry Hills. His use of fire and smoke and how he controls the heat working with such a natural product is incredible, as is his passion to source from and work with great producers. Before COVID, I was able to send one of my head chefs to work with Lennox. Getting an understanding of what he does inspired me to open The Inn upstairs at Edgar’s. Lennox is a great guy who loves what he does.
Favourite cookbook: At the moment, I’m reading Marriage of Flavours by Scott Pickett. I love his philosophy about food – keep it simple and make it bloody tasty. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: I like many young kids coming through who are doing great things – Ross, Dash and Mal at Pilot, Josh at Bar Rochford. Pat at Italian and Sons, Gus from Eighty Six and Sean at Rebel Rebel are guys I enjoy talking to and whose food I love eating. Hamish from Mada Wines is an absolute legend, a down-to-earth guy whose wine is amazing and who always has time for a chat.
What’s on the menu this week: A 12-hour slow-cooked lamb shoulder with salsa verde and tzatziki at The Inn. Also, the amazing lamb riblets at Wakefield’s.
Where I’m going next: When I can travel next, I want to try Agnes in Brisbane, which focuses on wood-fired cooking.
Death row meal: Probably Mum’s lasagne.
My COVID-19 response: When the pandemic hit, we made sure the essentials were there – coffee and pizza! They were the two parts of the business that got us through. Then we introduced a new platform that allowed people to order everything from the table. At first, I was unsure about the idea, but it really has done wonders for us. We just have to adapt to whatever comes because who knows what will happen next?
My really simple recipe tip: I love a great steak cooked on the grill over coal. Any chance I get, I will put on the apron and go for it. Grass-feed beef, good salt and pepper and some mustards. Serve it with pumpkin roasted over the coals, skin on, with olive oil and turmeric. Yum!
Wakefield’s Bar & Wine is the latest addition to Frank Condi’s hospitality line-up. It’s open from 5:00 pm until late, Wednesday to Saturday, at 2 Wakefield Drive, Ainslie.