Who is Kit Carpenter? I’m the culinary curator at Three Mills Bakery.
Best recent dining experience: Lamshed’s Food + Wine in Yarralumla is my go-to for creative menus that are affordable and offer a fun, fancy night out. They fill a niche for food that is interesting enough to keep you going back for their seasonal changes, and nostalgic enough to make you feel comforted. They’ve crafted a feeling of intimacy and care that I want to support.
Most embarrassing pantry item: Instant dashi.
Must-buy ingredient: Instant dashi if you want to enhance any vegetable to bring out its depth of flavour, without making a soup stock each time.
Next big thing: Filipino and Ethiopian cuisine are both at a tipping point. Many of the current generations are children who have grown up in Australia or the US and are looking back at their heritage for inspiration as chefs. I personally know chefs from the African diaspora or who have immigrant parents who feel a need to connect the culture of their parents with their own. I’ve also noticed an interest in the food media for these styles of restaurants. My friend John was head chef of Lume in Melbourne and he had an overt Filipino influence in his tasting menu. He’s now running a Filipino-style icecream company called Kariton Sorbetes. Ethiopian foods have been around for a bit longer and their barrier to entry is fast becoming part of the fun – you eat with your hands. And a whole world of flavours is opening up to us through North African spices.
Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: Barrio is my local and co-owner Sam Burns and the team have created a space where you feel comfortable and connected to a community. They also make amazing food in such a tiny space. My staple is their pickin’ plate (pickles, avo and other tasty stuff with fried bread ends), with a side of hash for some early morning nourishment.
My Canberra food secret: There is a tiny stall at the Capital Region Farmers Market at EPIC that sells incredible greens in small packages that are as delicious as they are perfectly presented. I never see a sign but like many stalls at EPIC, if you know, you know. The farmer is one of the loveliest folks there and sometimes he brings his son who will count money to learn maths. It’s very wholesome. On top of that, it’s crazy affordable for the quality.
Biggest culinary influence: My mother’s time spent travelling and living in Mexico in her 20s created my love of culinary exploration. I grew up predominantly in Central Texas, right next to Austin, but my love of travel led me to follow in the footsteps of arguably the greatest culinary explorer of our generation, Anthony Bourdain. It’s why I studied anthropology and philosophy at uni and why I didn’t go on to get my PhD because I needed to see the world. It’s also why I’m here in Australia.
Favourite cookbook: Sandoor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation has directly, and indirectly, inspired a generation of chefs, including me, to explore fermentation and establish it in the modern culinary world.
Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: I have always been inspired by the immigrant populations who use their culinary heritage as a universal language to talk about themselves and share what we all tend to agree is the best part of any culture: the food. There’s a wonderful takeaway shop called Fekerte’s Ethiopian at Ovolo Nishi in New Acton that I don’t get to very often because they’re closed at the weekend. Support them and maybe they’ll open up more often!
What’s on the menu this week: For summer at Three Mills Bakery we have a simple roasted tomato tart that explodes with flavour, as well as a barely-set passionfruit curd tart in a sweet pastry that will leave you salivating.
Where I’m going next: Everyone keeps telling me to go to Pilot in Ainslie so I think that’s going to be my next night out. Otherwise, Korean BBQ in Dickson is always at the top of my list to spend an evening with friends getting red-faced from the heat of the grill and dangerous bottles of soju.
Death row meal: The perfect sushi board with everything from the cleanest floral madai (red seabream) to the rich fat of otoro (tuna belly).
My COVID-19 response: We’ve had the opportunity to connect directly with our customers and give the gift of freshly baked bread directly to their door as well as a range of bake-at-home treats. What tastes better than a croissant straight out of the oven?
My really simple recipe: Elevate your pasta. Take away ingredients and focus on technique and seasoning. If you can make a silky carbonara without butter or cream then you know everything you need to know about pasta technique. Strip your cooking down by using fewer, higher-quality ingredients. A good, hard sheep’s milk cheese, some cured pork cheek, a strong dry or home-made pasta, a few fresh eggs, and a pinch of pepper. Don’t overcomplicate to impress. Confidence in cooking comes from using great ingredients and applying techniques that don’t obscure what makes them great.
Three Mills Bakery is an artisan bakery open seven days a week at 5 Lancaster Place, Majura Park. It also bakes and delivers daily to a variety of retail outlets across the ACT.