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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Dream destination? Spain, hands down!
Death row meal: Classic lasagne with garlic bread and salad. What more do I need to say?
My least favourite food: I’d have to go with tinned lychees.
My favourite vegetable: Cauliflower. It is so versatile!
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.