In what we’re hoping will become a regular Tasman Sea Salt blog feature we’re profiling some of the great chefs, cooks and producers that are leading the Tasmanian foodie charge. In this first instalment we’re catching up with Hobart chef Iain Todd from Ethos Eat Drink (among other things). At only 32 years old Iain has already achieved more than most people dream of achieving in their entire working career - and the most exciting thing is you get the feeling that there’s still a lot more to come.
Since our first trip down to Hobart after moving back to Tassie, Ethos has been a favourite of ours. Iain’s ingenious yet subtle, ingredient focused style drives the six or eight course tasting menu, showcasing the very best produce Tasmania has to offer. And a trip to the “big smoke” now rarely goes by without a sandwich from the newly revamped Providore by Ethos – and it’s no wonder the sandwiches are so good when you see some of his answers below. As well as the restaurant and providore Iain has expanded his establishment to include frozen yogurt bar Vita, cocktail bar Ash and Besters, and heritage accommodation Hayloft, all located at his 100 Elizabeth Street venue.
How would you describe your cooking style and where did you get your influence from? My cooking style is very ingredient driven. I believe in not messing with things too much and letting the ingredients sing their own songs. The ingredients control all the dishes at Ethos.
What is your favourite dish at the moment? We write a completely new menu every day, but at the moment I’m loving the leafy greens that are at the peak of their season at the moment.
What is your earliest memory of cooking? It’s not a direct memory, but my mum has a photo of me at the age of three, pretending to read a recipe for ANZAC biscuits and measuring out a cup of rolled oats.
Which chefs/cooks do you look to for guidance or inspiration? For inspiration I keep a close eye on my Instagram feed. Gone are the days when it took 10 years for food trends to reach Tasmania. A chef can post a photo and within seconds it’s across the whole world. It’s an exciting time to be in the kitchen.
How would you describe the Tasmanian food scene right now? What can we do to make it better? The Tasmanian food scene is very exciting at the moment. We are getting a lot of attention at the moment and chefs are really lifting their games. We need to keep pushing, innovating and improving our dishes and menus and focus on local produce that gives Tasmania a point of difference.
What are the must have items in your kitchen? Salt and lemon, I can’t cook without them.
Apart from Tasman Sea Salt what is your favourite Tasmanian ingredient/produce? The truffles around at the moment are amazing!
What is your favourite/most useful utensil in your kitchen? I have a knife hand made by Murray Carter. I’ve had it for years but it still gives me a thrill every time I use it. The perfect tool.
What is the one ingredient you hate to work with? I don’t hate working with anything. If it’s difficult then it's a challenge and I like that!
If you could only eat one style of food for the rest of your life what would it be? Bread… there wouldn't be many days of the year that I don’t eat bread of some kind. I love bread, life wouldn't be the same without it.
What is your food guilty pleasure? I don’t know if it’s my guilty pleasure but I guess it’s chocolate. I eat a lot of chocolate…
What would you request for your last meal? I think my last meal would be sandwiches. Good bread, good butter, delicious things, mayonnaise… and sparkling water.
Meat pie or steak tartare? It would depend on the day and the place. I like a good pie but a tartare, if the beef is good is possibly the most delicious thing on the planet.
What would you cook to impress your wife? I think I would cook something over charcoal. It’s tough to get right but the results are delicious.
What are 3 dishes or techniques you think every home cook should master?
· Learn how to sharpen and take care of a good knife.
· Learn to master that knife to cut with precision and skill, accurate and consistent cutting is vital in the kitchen.
· Learn to control the heat you cook with on the stove. Don’t be afraid to cook on a very high heat or a very low heat. Constant observation and attention are vital.
Check out Iain’s slow roasted lamb recipe below. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Slow roasted lamb, fried salt bush, braised leeks + walnut gremolata (feeds four)
1 large lamb shoulder
12 very small leeks
2 tbs honey
1 head garlic
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 sprig sage
extra virgin olive oil
Tasman Sea Salt
1 bunch fresh salt bush
cotton seed oil for deep frying
The day before…
Pre-heat your oven to 110 degrees.
Place the lamb shoulder on the bone into a deep oven dish, add 500 ml water and two cloves of the garlic.
Season the lamb with a little salt and wrap very well with three layers of foil, shiny side down.
Place into the oven for 14 hours, over night is best. After that time, remove the pan form the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature without removing the foil to trap in the moisture.
When the lamb is cool use your hands to pick the meat from the bone removing any fat and blood vessels you find, try to keep the meat in reasonably large pieces. Keep all the liquid from the pan too and set both the meat and the liquid aside in the fridge.
For the leeks
Trim the green top and roots from the leeks and wash them well.
Place your largest pan on the stove on high heat and place the leeks in the pan. Do not add anything else at this stage. Roll the leeks over until they are darkly coloured on all sides and remove the pan from the heat.
Allow the pan to cool a little before you add the honey, 3 smashed cloves of garlic and a little splash of water. Place a lid on the pan and return to a medium heat and allow the leeks to cook with the lid on until they are tender. Taste them for salt. If your pan is too hot when you add the honey it will burn so be careful.
Leave the leeks in the pan with the lid on and set aside
For the walnut gremolata
Crack the walnuts and remove any husks. Keep the shells aside they’re good for smoking things with another time
Finely chop the parsley, sage, two cloves of garlic and the nuts and place into a bowl. Add the zest and juice of the lemon, add a good slug of olive oil and salt to taste, set aside.
For the saltbush.
Pick the leaves from the stems and give them a good wash and dry. Place a large pot on the stove and add a litre or so of cottonseed oil. Place it on a high heat and bring up to 150 degrees. I would recommend using a thermometer for this as it can be dangerous.
In small batches carefully add the leaves. Gently move them around in the oil using a slotted spoon. When they stop sizzling scoop them out onto paper towel and season with a little bit of salt.
You should be able to find salt bush anywhere along the southern coast of Australia but if you live in the north or center, substitute the salt bush with sage leaves and follow the same method.
Heat a large pan on the stove to hot. Add a little oil and add the cold lamb chunks. You want to get it crispy and golden so you may need to do this in batches or on the flat plate of your barbecue on high. Season with salt and turn the pieces over until they are golden on all sides. Place onto a clean kitchen towel to drain.
Place the leeks pan onto the stove on a low heat until the leeks are hot.
Bring a small amount of the lamb roasting juices up to boil in a small pan.
Distribute the leeks over four plates (don't serve the garlic) and add a small amount of their honey liquid.
Add the lamb pieces and a ladle of the braising juices.
Spoon some gremolata over the meat and sprinkle with the salt bush.