17 November 2022

Five minutes with Matthew Ouwerkerk, The Marion and Walter Café

| Evelyn Karatzas
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Matthew Ouwerkerk

Mattew Ouwerkerk, head chef of The Marion and Walter Café. Photo: The Marion.

Who is Matthew Ouwerkerk: I am the head chef of The Marion and Walter Café in Canberra.

Best recent dining experience: I’d probably say Ondine in Deakin. Keaton and his team treated us to a special pheasant dinner. He is technically driven in his approach yet still manages to keep it simple and has a great palate.

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Favourite cuisine: I wouldn’t say I have a particular favourite, but I do love Asian cuisine. They pack so much flavour into their food and I love a bit of spice!

Most embarrassing pantry or fridge item: Instant noodles. They are handy to have for a quick bite and can be used in so many different ways. Maggi Masala are a must!

Maggi Noodles

Could it be that 2-Minute noodles are made only to keep chefs happy? Photo: Woolworths Supermarket.

What ingredient can I not live without: Definitely salt. It is a staple in any cooking, in sweet and savoury dishes.

Next big thing in the Canberra food scene: Canberra has really exploded in the last five years since I have been here. The quality of food, wine and produce here and the surrounds are amazing. To highlight this, I think it will be wine bars showcasing local wines with great food.

Prawn toast with cabbage and herb salad

Miss Van’s Prawn Toast with cabbage and herb salad. Photo: Miss Van’s.

Favourite place for lunch in the ACT: Miss Van’s. It has a great atmosphere, the food is amazing, and it has many light lunch options that are full of flavour – not to mention the team are really friendly.

My go-to coffee spot in Canberra: Intra is great little place. Unfortunately, I don’t make it there enough, but when I do, I consistently have a great experience.

Intra cbr

Matthew loves double-shot piccolos from Intra: Intra. Photo: Facebook.

Favourite coffee and why? I love double-shot piccolos, mainly because I don’t usually have a lot of milk.

A must-try on our menu: In addition to high tea. We’ve also launched our lunch à la carte menu at The Marion – which I am super excited about!

I’d order the lobster bisque and raviolo of the tail, petits pois a la Francaise, and to follow, the roast assiette of Muscovy duck, braised lentils du puy, beetroot and black garlic, and macadamia crumb.

Marion restaurant

Come and enjoy a High Tea at The Marion. Photo: Pew Pew Studio.

Biggest culinary influence: Paul Cooper, chef/owner of Fergusson Winery and Bianchet Winery, located in the Yarra Valley. He was my head chef at The Botanical Hotel in Melbourne before I jetted off to the UK, and when I returned, I worked under him again at Bishop Sessa in Sydney. He is a great chef, highly skilled and a great leader!

Favourite cookbook: The Hand and Flowers by Tom Kerridge, a pub serving Michelin-starred food. And Molecular Gastronomy by Herve – this is a great in-depth read into the chemistry of ingredients and cooking.

Street food

Tiger Lane has drawn its inspiration from street hawkers across Asia. Photo: Tiger Lane.

Who I admire in the Canberra food and wine scene: Gerald Ong of Sourdog Provisions and soon-to-open Tiger Lane. He is a great chef with a great vision. And I’m sure he will be producing some of the best food in Canberra very soon.

Where am I travelling to next: Spain, Morocco and India, which I am super excited about. They are so rich in life and culture. And I can’t wait to get stuck into the food!

Asian culinary delights await on Tiger Lane. Photos: Zachary Griffith.

Dream destination? Spain, hands down!

Death row meal: Classic lasagne with garlic bread and salad. What more do I need to say?


Chef Matthew says his death row meal is lasagne. Check out the lasagne from Mama’s Trattoria. Photo: Amelia Bidgood.

My least favourite food: I’d have to go with tinned lychees.

My favourite vegetable: Cauliflower. It is so versatile!

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COVID-19 response: I believe we just need to keep adapting and be resilient like we have been, and hopefully, we can overcome this pandemic and be in a better place.

My top recipe tips:
1. Taste, season and taste again
2. Cook seasonally (the produce tastes better)
3. Recipes and cooking times are a guide
4. Proteins and baked goods need to rest, give them time, they are still cooking.

High Tea at The Marion is held daily from 10 am to 4 pm, and lunchtime sitting is open Monday to Friday from 12 to 3 pm. Walter Cafe is open daily for breakfast and lunch from 7 am to 4 pm. The Marion and Walter Cafe are located at ACT Parks Depot, Barrine Dr, Parkes.

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