3 May 2024

'It's not everyday you get a two-hatted chef to make shawarma!' Pilot Chef takes over Terra grill for Saturday lunch event

| Lucy Ridge
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Image of Mal holding a photoshopped giant kebab above his head

Chef Mal Hanslow takes on the Terra kitchen for a Saturday Shawarma Showdown. Photo: Terra.

City restaurant Terra is opening the doors to their kitchen for a Saturday Substitute series, during which some of Canberra’s best chefs will take over the grill for the day.

Terra co-owner Anthony Ianelli says they wanted to create an opportunity for Canberra’s chefs to flex their creative muscles, have a go on the big grill and provide an excuse to get their hospitality mates together.

“We’ve got friends at a lot of the Canberra restaurants,” Anthony told Region.

“But we’re always working, so we figured the trick was to make us all work in the same place for a day.”

The kitchen at Terra features a large woodfired grill, unlike most restaurants that use gas or induction. That provides an extra challenge and something different for chefs around town. Anthony explained that they want the visiting chefs to create their own dishes that showcase the unique flavours imparted by the grill.

Each Saturday event will feature a different chef and while not all names are ready to be released, what we know so far is a real who’s-who of Canberra hospo icons. Bar Rochford chef Josh Lundy will head up a future event, as will Chef Annand ‘AK’ Ramakrishna from the now-closed but much-loved XO.

Skewers of meat on woodfired grill

The kitchen at Terra features a woodfired grill. Photo: Terra.

First up is award-winning chef Mal Hanslow of Pilot Restaurant and Such and Such, who is running a Shawarma Showdown! Speaking to Region, Mal said he didn’t have to think too hard before settling on the theme for the event.

“The Terra guys asked if I’d be interested, and I’d just made shawarma for dinner the night before and I thought that’d be fun,” he laughed.

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Mal got to know the team at Terra as a customer: he lives close by and they’re open on a Sunday evening which suits his cheffing lifestyle.

A black and white photo of a chef with tattoos plating up a dish

Chef Mal Hanslow is better known for his fine dining skills. Photo: Cassie Abraham.

Although Mal is known for his fine dining style at Pilot, this will be a far more casual affair. Anthony said they want these events to be affordable, casual and fun, without too much fuss and polish.

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This Saturday’s menu is a Shawarma Showdown between three different shawarmas – chicken, lamb and cauliflower – with a few other side dishes available as well.

While some places will be available for walk-ins, Anthony recommends booking so you don’t miss out. The breads will be made in-house, and there will be limited amounts, so selling out is a real possibility.

“It’s not every day you get a two-hatted chef to make shawarma!”

Terra is located at 40 Marcus Clarke St, City West, Canberra. The Shawarma Showdown will take place on Saturday, 4 May, from 12 pm to 3 pm or until sold out. Make a booking at Terra, and follow them on Instagram to see who will take over the kitchen next!

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