I loved interviewing chef Jock Zonfrillo at Melbourne’s Gastronomy Congress in April 2017. He was one of four top chefs presenting to an audience of his peers and it was a great opportunity to gain an insight into what drives him. His inspiring cooking demonstration centred on the indigenous Australian produce that he champions – I was lucky enough to hop up on stage to eat a morsel of magpie goose, a native Australian bird.
In my chat with Jock, we talk about chefs and home cooks and particularly about recipes and cookbooks and how we might approach them. I enjoy what he says about recipes: that they’re a starting point, a base reference that we should feel free to build on, diverge from and recreate. It’s a message I try to push home in my cooking classes too.
Jock also speaks about the way ingredients differ so much from place to place, day to day, farm to farm, and that you really need to appreciate their own particular qualities: good cooks relate to their ingredients as much as their recipes. I love this idea of the recipe as a living thing, changing from cook to cook, year to year, carrot to carrot!
I’ve embraced Jock’s approach with his green smoothie idea. I seized on three key elements: use a whole lemon, add macadamias and feel free to throw in whatever else you’ve got that’s green and fresh. The zinging result is a Lemon Bomb Smoothie that’s thick enough to eat with a spoon, so you can serve it like a smoothie bowl. Otherwise, add more water to create a slurpable consistency.
Jock Zonfrillo’s Restaurant Orana is known for its focus on indigenous Australian ingredients: it’s fascinating and culturally rich, but it makes me feel uncomfortable that it’s so revolutionary. Once you start thinking about it, it’s actually really obvious that Australians should be eating the food that grows here naturally. I hope that a broader appreciation of native produce will flourish, thanks to the leadership of people like Jock, and chefs at restaurants like Oakridge, which I reviewed recently. One of the reasons I keep an eye on what chefs are up to is that their approach inevitably trickles down to us at home. We’ve touched on that ever so slightly with the native Australian macadamias in this recipe. If you happen to have warrigal greens, please do use them instead of the spinach and lettuce!
If you want to see more Gastronomy Congress action, check out my chat with chef Albert Adria then make his Lettuce Sauce & Oysters.
Makes: approx. 1 litre, or more if thinned
Time: 5 minutes