Who is Tim Crick: I’m the head chef at Lerida Estate. I’ve spent more than 30 years cheffing and still enjoy putting food on plates.
Best recent dining experience: Grazing at Gundaroo. I can walk to it from where we live, but that’s not the only reason. Kurt Newman does a fantastic job with everything and has created an excellent dining experience there.
Favourite cuisine: I enjoy east meets west – Asian flavours complemented by western techniques.
Most embarrassing pantry or fridge item: I keep my stash of whisky in there so my wife doesn’t see it …
What ingredient can I not live without: I would probably have to say garlic.
Next big thing in the Canberra food scene: I have noticed a lot of chefs and smaller restaurants are trying to embrace the paddock-to-plate philosophy and have their own things growing out back that they can take into the kitchen. We have our own veggie patch out here with herbs and tomatoes and things.
Favourite place for lunch in the ACT: It’s not prestigious, but honestly? There’s a little Vietnamese place in the food hall at Majura Park called Ms Ba Cô, and they make really good banh mi pork rolls. You can’t beat it – it’s fresh, fast and tasty. There’s always a line 20 deep, but because they’re so well-prepped, you never stand very long. Also, Simply Pho at Marketplace in Gungahlin. Best pho, so delicious.
A must-try on our menu: At the moment, the kangaroo is extremely popular – I can’t prepare it fast enough! If people shy away from kangaroo meat, I find it’s mainly because they haven’t tried it before or because they have, and it’s been poorly prepared, which has put them off.
Ours is quickly seared and finished in the oven. We’re currently serving it with a crispy noodle salad, lemon myrtle bush pepper and a bush tomato relish. It’s a bit of that east meets west I love.
For the winter menu, I’ll do it with a sweet potato mash and beetroot roasted with red wine and pepper berry jus.
Our most-used ingredient at Lerida Estate: Certain herbs and spices, like garlic and smoky paprika. I also sneak a bit of harissa in a lot of stuff. I make my own and it’s very good.
Biggest culinary influence: That would have to be Serif Kaya at Ottoman. I used to work for him. It was probably 25 years ago, but that experience remains my biggest culinary influence today.
Favourite cookbook: I love all the Food Safari stuff by Maeve O’Meara. In particular, there’s a big book called The Complete Food Safari, which gives you a broad spectrum of recipes from 44 countries.
Who I admire in the region’s food and wine scene: Again, I’d have to say Kurt Newman at Grazing. He has created a restaurant and picked up some really good awards. He has found himself in a great position to become his own master and landlord. And he’s also just a nice guy who gets involved in a lot of different things to benefit his community.
To me, it seems he’s captured something that’s elusive for most chefs – work/life balance – and I really admire that.
What’s the special of the week at Lerida: Our pasta this week is a wild boar, brie and black truffle salsa fettuccine with a creamy white wine and garlic sauce. We tend to change the pasta up seasonally. For our autumn menu, I think I’ll switch to a risotto.
Where am I travelling next: I plan on having a sneaky little camping trip out at Namadgi National Park. I’m going to go past Rendezvous Creek up to Yankee Hat Mountain and survey the fire damage. I want to see how it’s looking up there compared to a couple of years ago. There’s some Aboriginal rock art up there that I’m hoping hasn’t been destroyed, given it’s been there such a long time.
Dream destination? If it were just for me, I’m one to be in the bush with not much going on. But if I’m taking my wife, it has to be a hotel or resort – she’s not having a bar of camping. So I guess the dream destination would be Tilba Lake. There are some amazing eco pods there. They’re these tiny houses and from some of them, you can just lie in bed and look out the window straight at the ocean. We stayed in one a few years ago in the middle of a lush, green paddock so it’s a good in-between – not roughing it, so my wife is happy, but also out there in nature.
Mind you, I’d still take the barbecue and charcoal with me, even if there’s a kitchen. I like cooking with charcoal. I used to run the Gundaroo Smoke House in a past life and made my own smoked brisket, pulled pork and ribs. We leased the kitchen at the Gundy Pub and ran it for five or six years, and we were lucky enough to be packed out every night.
Death row meal: I’d opt for a fine bottle of our own 2021 Lerida Estate Cullerin Syrah. I might complement that with something traditionally Polish, my wife being Polish — golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls) perhaps, or some delicious perogi.
My least favourite food: Internal organs – livers and kidneys and the like. It doesn’t mean I can’t make a mean pate. I am just not personally a fan of the texture and flavour.
My favourite vegetable: Maybe the good old spud because they’re so versatile. They don’t sound exciting but when you think about it, there’s a lot you can do with the humble spud. You can roast it, turn it into French fries, mash it, you can turn it into gnocchi …
COVID-19 response: I was working at Ten Yards and Two Before Ten in Aranda when the first wave hit. We stayed open and were able to pivot to focus on take away. We created a little shop inside so people could still buy a bottle of wine to take home and support us, and we made different food specials to entice people. The Aranda community was amazing and really supportive at that time. Everyone tried to get a takeaway once a week.
I had moved over to Lerida when the final wave hit, and because of the location, we just closed down for three months. It was tough, but we’ve come back strong.
My top three recipe tips:
- Don’t be shy with the butter.
- Don’t be shy with the garlic.
- Don’t be shy with the red wine, whether you’re cooking with it or drinking it!
The Lerida Estate cellar door is open from 10 am to 5 pm seven days a week, and the restaurant is open for lunch from 11 am to 2:30 pm, Thursdays to Tuesdays. For more information or to make a booking, visit the website.