15 January 2021

Five minutes with Leeroy Petersen, Caribou

| Michelle Rowe
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Leeroy Petersen

Leeroy Petersen, owner of Caribou bar and restaurant in Kingston. Photo: Supplied.

Who is Leeroy Petersen? I’m the adventurer-in-charge at Caribou Kingston.

Best recent dining experience: It was with my wife Sophia (and no kids!) and involved a bottle of champagne, beef carpaccio, buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad … and one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten – it was at Belluci’s in Manuka.

Most embarrassing pantry item: I’m not too embarrassed by what I eat. But the organic gluten-free Macro Wholefoods tzatziki lentil corn chips that I dunk into French onion dip possibly fit the bill.

Belluci's Manuka

The carpaccio is a popular order at Belluci’s Manuka.

Must-buy ingredient: I can’t live without extra hot sambal chilli. If it ain’t spicy, I ain’t eating it.

Next big thing: I think there is a huge movement towards healthy, active eating. Not so much vegan or vegetarian, but more balanced, nutritional and wholesome food.

Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: My breakfast choice would be either Urban Pantry or Patissez on Manuka lawns.

My Canberra food secret: I absolutely love going to the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets. T&E Asian Grocery is awesome for all your quirky little sauces and flavours, and LL Bakery and Cafe has the best pork roll and pho in Canberra.

Urban Pantry pancakes

Urban Pantry pancakes have a big fanbase, and their savoury breakfasts are a hot commodity too. Photo: Supplied.

Biggest culinary influence: Chef, restaurateur and TV presenter Manu Feildel is a great friend and working with him was legendary. Tassie-born, Italian raised chef Massimo Mele is also a superstar. I had the pleasure of being a frequent drinker and friend of the much-loved but now defunct Bayswater Brasserie in Sydney’s Kings Cross, so got to watch some of Australia’s – and the world’s – top bar personalities in action.

Favourite cookbook: The Viking Feast, from Sven Almenning of Mjolner Sydney. It’s a Viking feast of meats and horns of ales – a book that gives us Scandinavian heritage. My people.

Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene:

Gavin Smith, who looks after our wines at Caribou, is my wine guru. Not only is he a Canadian (so I love him more), but he understands what we need as a business. Andrew Day at Rizla is absolutely killing it and I admire what he’s doing, and what he’s done. An absolute champion.

Rizla bar and restaurant Braddon

Rizla bar and restaurant in Braddon is attracting a loyal following. Photo: Ash St George.

What’s on the menu this week: We have a new Caribou custom cocktail menu this week that the staff have put together. I’m super proud of Alex Winmill and George Roberts. They have got into their rhythm and are becoming super creative. And the drinks are banging, if I do say so myself.

Where I’m going next: I love spending time with my family and creating moments with food at home. For breakfast, I usually whip up an omelette for the kids, and dinners are spent on a barbecue doing southern spiced marinated chicken or Montreal smoked meat steaks and corn.

Caribou Kingston

George and Alex have introduced a new Caribou custom cocktail menu. Photo: Supplied.

Death row meal: My final meal would be a medium-rare ribeye steak with a baked potato, sour cream, cheese and chives, boiled and stewed mushrooms and a Caesar salad. I’d also have a bottle each of pinot noir and Caol Ila whisky.

My COVID-19 response: At Caribou, we decided from day one not to close our business. We pivoted and opened a takeaway and delivery service that kept our staff in jobs and our customers’ needs met. We met COVID head-on with one goal – to not give up what we worked so hard to open. We wanted to give back to the community, for people to have a place that was open that allowed them to go for a walk and pick up food and grab a beer or wine or cocktail, a place where they could discuss their lives, and have someone to talk to.

Caribou

Old-school Canadian hospitality. Photo: Supplied.

My really simple recipe tip: Sesame tofu with scrambled eggs, rice and veggie stir fry. Super easy, delicious and healthy, which is unusual for me but, hey, I like it. So does the boss (wife).

Caribou bar and restaurant on Kingston’s Green Square specialises in old-school Canadian hospitality, including home-style Canadian comfort food with some classic twists.

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