In our new weekly column, Five Minutes With…, we chat to the movers and shakers of the local hospitality industry about the good, the bad and the ugly of the food world. First up is the talented Dash Rumble from Ainslie’s Pilot restaurant.
Name: Dash Rumble
Best recent dining experience: Wow, this is so hard. I think it’s a tie between Bar Rochford in the city and Morks in Kingston. They are so special in their own ways and each venue is a true expression of the people who created them. Such good food, wine and chats.
Most embarrassing pantry item: Tasty cheese … but it’s so good! And shrimp chips for snacking.
Must-buy ingredient: Anchovies! They are so salty and make everything taste great. Or if you want to be more exotic, try some bonito flakes. Anything with an umami flavour is an essential pantry item.
Impromptu dinner hack: Olive oil pasta with anchovies, chilli and garlic. Or if I have pepper and cheese in the house (pretty much always), I’ll make cacio e pepe. We always have garlic bread in the freezer too, obviously.
Next big thing: I think we are all heading towards a more plant-focused diet. Vegetables take more work but they are so delicious and it’s so worth the effort to cook them right. These days, we as restaurant owners and operators are focusing more on our budget and what it actually costs for us to produce our product and charge accordingly. I think it’s the same in lots of businesses across the hospitality industry.
Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: I can’t go past a KYO bacon and egg roll coupled with a coffee from Barrio in Braddon. For days when I get up later, I love to order a banh mi from Ms Ba Cô. There’s one in the city and in Majura Park. I rate the tofu version very highly.
My Canberra food secret: There are so many great places. We used to go to Fekerte’s Ethiopian at the Bus Depot Markets when I was growing up. Curry and bread was our reward from my parents for walking around with them for a few hours. Now there’s a little shopfront at the Ovolo Nishi building and it’s SO delicious, unique and great value. I also can’t go past Da Rosario during the week for the best lunch spot in town. Rosé out of tumblers? Yes, please.
Biggest culinary influence: I am influenced by so many people. Owning a small business, it’s hard not to compare ourselves to like-minded people and businesses and be influenced by them. There are a few venues around Australia we look to for inspiration: Joy in Brisbane, Fleet in Brunswick Heads and Restaurant Labart in Burleigh Heads are all owner-operated like us, working hard to push the boundaries of cooking and running a humming venue.
On a more personal note, I feel so lucky to have worked with Kylie Javier Ashton at Sydney’s Momofuku Seibo. She is an absolutely incredible boss lady. I also attended a Grow Assembly hospitality industry event a couple of years ago and was incredibly inspired by both Monica Brown from Lotus Communications and Palisa Anderson from Boon Luck Farm & Chat Thai. Oh, and there’s always Beyoncé.
Favourite cookbook: Honestly, most of the time I’ll identify a dish I haven’t tried before and do some research. I’ll often find about four recipes for the one dish and then combine them all. I like to freestyle it. At the moment we are pretty deep into The Whole Fish Cookbook by Josh Niland and are really enjoying trying out his recipes.
Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: Ravensworth owner Bryan Martin is the man. He is such a great winemaker and an all-round amazing person. His wines are quirky and interesting and definitely push the boundaries, but there is always a purity and quality to them. We have run a few events with him at Pilot and he is a legend.
What’s on the menu at the moment: We run a degustation menu that’s about nine courses – super fun and refined versions of what we like to eat. Wine-wise, we have just started our chilled red section in the wine list again. During spring and summer, this is what I like to drink.
Where I’m going next: I’m really keen to try Leigh Street Wine Room in Adelaide (now that we can!) In Canberra, we have been meaning to get back to Aubergine. Ben Willis is a great chef and our friends Caitlin and Lucas have taken over management and sommelier roles so I am very excited to see what they bring to that already amazing venue.
Death row meal: Fish pie, mashed potatoes and green salad with peas. Followed by chocolate sorbet and fennel ice cream from Frugii for dessert. And then some shrimp chips. Oh, am I allowed wine? Because magnums.
Pilot’s nightly degustation menu is $120 pp with a full alcoholic pairing for an additional $80, and a non-alcoholic pairing for $70 pp. The shorter Sunday lunch set menu of five courses is available for $70 pp.
Pilot Restaurant is located at Wakefield Gardens at Ainslie shops. It opens at 6:00 pm for dinner Wednesday to Sunday, and for Sunday lunch from 12:00 noon to 3:30 pm. It’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays.