Who is Richard Watkins? I’m the co-founder and head brewer of BentSpoke Brewing Co.
Best recent dining experience: Edgars Inn at Ainslie. It’s morphed into one of Canberra’s hidden secrets with three different offerings in Edgars, The Inn and Wakefields Bar & Wine, offering a lot of variety.
Most embarrassing pantry item: Baked beans. You’ve got to love a baked beans, egg and bacon jaffle.
Must-buy ingredient: Good quality cheddar. I love a bit of cheese and a nice IPA (India Pale Ale).
Next big thing: Fusion cuisines seem to be the rage at the moment, such as the combination of Japanese and South American flavours. I’d love to see a bit more Mexican influence come to the fore.
Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: The Knox in Watson.
My Canberra food secret: Canberra has so many great barbecue spots where you can just walk up and cook a delicious lunch right on the lake. Try the picnic spots at the National Arboretum, Black Mountain or, a bit further away, Uriarra Crossing.
Biggest culinary influence: Chuck Hahn, who founded Hahn Brewery in 1988. He was always extremely supportive back when there weren’t very many breweries around. He would always tell me, “Don’t forget to clean, Richard!”
Favourite cookbook: I like the recipes from The Beeroness website (she also has a cookbook called Lush). She does lots of simple cooking and, of course, uses beer in the recipes.
Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: Wayne Haslam from Blue Frog Truffles in Sutton. Farming in the middle of winter in the freezing cold must be tough. But Wayne doesn’t complain, is extremely knowledgeable about truffles and always happy to chat and pass on his wisdom.
What’s on the menu this week: Silverback, an English olde ale infused with kumquats, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise and truffles – the perfect winter warmer. It’s great matched with beef cheeks and truffle mash.
Where I’m going next: I can’t wait to be allowed to go to India.
Death row meal: Indian curry. I simply love to cook Indian curries and they pair really well with a good IPA.
My COVID response: Having a strong online booking system has allowed us to keep a nice steady flow of guests into the Brew Pub in Braddon. Also, releasing lots of new beers to keep customers’ palates on the hop.
My really simple recipe tip: Keep things simple. The best beers are brewed using just a few really good ingredients and food should be the same.
BentSpoke Brewing Co was launched in Canberra in 2014 and now offers a huge range of canned and on-tap beers. BentSpoke’s Brew Pub in Mort Street, Braddon, offers 18 varieties of beer and cider, all brewed on the premises, and a classic pub menu. Check the website for opening/takeaway status due to COVID restrictions.