Food Chat – Beef Banter with Butcher Gary McBean – Dani Valent

Learning more about the beast that brings us so many beautiful dishes

Today, we’re all about beef!

I love shopping from Gary’s Quality Meats at Prahran Market, where master butcher Gary McBean offers high-quality, free-range meat, aged on site in a gleaming glass chamber, and butchered with incredible expertise and respect by a skilled team.

What Gary doesn’t know about meat isn’t worth knowing so I grabbed him for a series of show-and-tells. We’re talking beef in the first of our three ‘meat chats’ (lamb and pork coming soon). In an era where meat often comes in styrofoam packages and is quite divorced from the animal it’s come from, I think it’s empowering to reconnect to the source, to learn more about what comes from where and why certain meat cuts work better for different dishes.

By the way, a girl’s gotta get dressed. Today I’m wearing Elk.

There’s more beef below!

  • steak cooking tips from Vlado Gregurek, a man who devoted his life to it
  • beef roundup – all the beefy recipes on the site
  • an amazing new spin on hollandaise from star chef Tony Twitchett
  • and while we’re on the subject of beef take a look at some of my favourite beef dishes.

Stavros Abougelis, Vlado Gregurek and Maurice Esposito discuss grill tactics in 2008

Vlado Gregurek’s high-stakes steak tips

Vlado Gregurek from Vlado’s restaurant was obsessed with grilling great steak. He opened his Richmond, Melbourne, restaurant in 1964 and worked there until he died in 2012. Now his son Michael is carrying the mantle.

In 2008, I was privileged to spend an afternoon around the barbecue with Vlado, chef Maurice Esposito and restaurateur Stavros Abougelis (from the since closed Greek institution Stavros Tavern).

Here are some words of wisdom from the Croatian master of the grill.

  • Choose the right steak: “Choosing steak is about finding the balance between what you like to eat and what you like to pay,” says Vlado. “Not everyone wants the rich, oily taste of Wagyu, especially Aussies who want to eat a big piece of meat. In Japan the average Wagyu steak is 120 to 150 grams. If you were to eat 400 grams of Wagyu you would be very sick.” Many people like tender eye fillet but I like porterhouse or rump steak – they’re less tender but they have more flavour. I’ll sometimes go for hanger steak, which is chewier but even more flavourful. Definitely watch the video to learn more about different cuts!
  • “A clean grill is essential,” says Vlado. “Use a steel brush, then rub the grill with a clean cloth.”
  • Vlado kept a piece of beef fat in his freezer for the particular purpose of oiling his barbecue. “Oil your barbecue, not the beef, preferably with a piece of beef fat,” he says.
  • If cooking over wood or charcoal, you want the heat, not the flame. “Make sure your fire is ‘settled’ with an intense heat and no flame or smoke,” says Vlado.
  • Be patient. “Turn your steak when it’s 50 or 60 per cent cooked on one side. Don’t move it before that. Sadly, it’s hard to say when this will be without experience. There are no secrets. You know or you don’t know.” (Interestingly, this approach is different to the one Gary outlines in the video – there is definitely more than one way to cook a lovely steak!)

More Beef, Right Here, Right Now

Beef Short Ribs with Pickled Carrots and Noodles
This recipe is included in The Ethical Omnivore by Laura Dalrymple and Grant Hilliard, a beautiful and inspiring book that proposes a new way of thinking about sourcing and eating meat.

Romany’s Sri Lankan Black Beef Curry
This recipe is also from The Ethical Omnivore book by Laura Dalrymple and Grant Hilliard. Laura and Grant run Feather and Bone in Sydney, a butcher which sources whole animals directly from sustainable farmers.

Beef Stir-Fry
Feed a crowd with this all in one beef dish – one of my most popular recipes ever.

Vitello Tonnato
A classic Italian dish of poached veal and tuna that seems like it was designed just for the Thermomix.

Cauliflower Hummus with Spiced Beef- Shane Delia
Minced beef is cooked – and cooked and cooked – in ghee and spices till it’s crisp and irresistible.

Thai Beef Ribs with Coconut Rice & Coleslaw
Whiz up a marinade and get your ribs in the oven then forget about them. A super popular dish that wows everyone with its intense flavours.

Barolo-Braised Beef with Polenta Cremoso – Joseph Vargetto
Succulent beef slow-cooked in red wine: a dish that’s full of romance.

Beef Rotolo
Use the Varoma to cook this easy-but-fancy rolled beef dish – it’s flexible, fun and impressive.

Cauliflower-Crumbed Schnitzel
A serve of vegetables is used to crumb your meat. Genius? Maybe! Tasty? Yes!


Make the hollandaise below and sprinkle it liberally with this umami-rich condiment.

Cervelle de Canut – Anthony Femia
This herby dip is great with crackers and crudités but it’s also amazing melting over a steak.

Burnt Butter Hollandaise

Makes: about 250 grams (serves 4-6)

Chef Tony Twitchett told me about this concoction when we caught up at a gastronomy congress and I just had to get the recipe! He serves it at Taxi Kitchen in Melbourne’s Federation Square and it’s indicative of the Asian spin he puts on his modern Australian cuisine. This hollandaise is quite sharp but that’s balanced by the salt and furikake – if you prefer a milder taste use a little less rice vinegar.

Furikake? It’s a Japanese condiment that you can buy but it’s super easy to make. Here’s my recipe! If you can’t find bonito flakes, just leave them out.


  • 125 grams (1 stick) butter, roughly chopped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 90 grams (3 oz) rice vinegar
  • fine salt, to taste
  • furikake, to taste


1. Place butter in a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until deep brown and toasty smelling. If you’re like me you’ll want to drink it at this point!
2. Strain butter through a sieve to remove dark milk solids (or just pour it carefully).
3. Place egg yolks and rice vinegar in mixing bowl and cook for 8 min/80°C (175°F)/speed 3.5. The mixture should be thick and pale, like mayonnaise.
4. Mixing on speed 3.5, slowly drizzle burnt butter into mixing bowl and continue to mix until incorporated.
5. Continue mixing and add a good pinch of salt.
6. Serve with furikake and grilled steak.


  • When cooking steak, rest it for half the time you’ve cooked it to help retain the juices and ensure the meat is relaxed

If you love a good burger as much as I do, try my BeetROOT Burgers the next time you’re throwing a steak or two on the barbie.

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I love my Elk top & Obus pants

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