Masterchef S01 ep5: Teague Ezard, Ezard Restaurant, [Melbourne]
Interview with Teague Ezard
It wasn't that long ago where most restaurants were French/Italian. The preparation of the food was done earlier in the day and basically the chefs rock up, cook and serve it. The difference with leaning towards Asian Style which has become more and more dominant in Australia is that you are always cooking. There are 3 to 5 steps of putting together a dish . For example, a scallop dish that we serve," steamed scallops with a peanut man juis and Thai salad", you have got to mortar and pestal your paste to order, you taste your paste, you season your paste, you steam your scallops, and it all comes together and it is taste checked, taste checked, taste checked.
KM: What is Ezard?
It is a basement level 1 Restaurant that seats 80 guests, and we have been
here for five years now.
I got a job as a kitchen hand at a hotel at the local pub and I got to see how
the kitchen worked and I loved it.
KM: What was it about the kitchen in this hotel that really fascinated you?
It was basically seeing the raw ingredient and then seeing something at the
end and thinking um how do you do that.
I worked for a very very good mentor Herman Schneider and had the
opportunity to learn discipline I guess.
When you work for a master, like Herman, you do it his way, so you learn
kitchen structure, you learn how to segment an orange, you learn how to
braise a piece of veal, you learn how to put a few sauces together. My
creativity side probably did not come out until the mid 1990's, when I had the
opportunity back then to run a kitchen myself.
You do not look at it as a career back then, and I had no idea what I was going
into, either I was going to get sacked or I was going to leave and it was all a lot
fear, but I guess it was about the challenge of getting things done and doing
them right. As I was saying before, pick the mint right, segment the grapefruit
right, then go on and do something else, it was always a challenge.
A little after that I managed to work for many Melbourne chefs, I did a lot of
hopping and skipping of jobs, you know so you sort of take a lot of different
experiences, from your own experiences I guess, and put them into one, and
you just naturally do that yourself.
I think what you need to do is firstly establish your own cuisine, and just quickly
getting back to what Melbourne City do, Sydney open restaurants, Melbourne
open kitchen, and with chefs that are driven and are passionate and know
what their cuisine is all about stick very closely to that line, it is like the old
saying You stick to what you are good at. For me I was very lucky to find a
creative side of myself and I created my own cuisine, my own style, and I
KM: When you say that what is your style of cuisine?
Australian free style.
KM: What is Australian to you, how do you see it?
What is Australian to me is getting back to classically trained, it wasn't that
long ago where most restaurants were French/Italian. A lot of the maison plas,
the preparation of the food, is done and then basically chefs rock up and they
cook it and they serve it. The difference with leaning towards Asian Style has
become more and more dominant in Australia is that you are always cooking.
There are 3 to 5 steps of putting together a dish rather than just putting it all
bang in one plate, like on a pass, that classically trained chefs do. For example
there will be a scallop dish that we have, steamed scallops with a peanut man
jing and thai salad on top, you have got to mortar and pestal, you make your
paste to order, you taste your paste, you season your paste, you steam your
scallops, and it all comes together and there is quiet a process involved to get
your dish ready and it is taste check, taste check, taste check. This
preparation of cooking really is not that relevant to normal classical style such
as your French and Italian.
There are three factors to keeping consistency, and your staff happy. A. You
always have an eye on them, you are always here, working and putting in as
much as what they would put in, leading by example, Second of all having
systems and very good checks in place, and C. the last thing and probably the
most important do whatever it takes to get the best staff in your restaurant -
whatever it takes.
YES, and keep them happy.
Good restaurants, egotistical people and prima donnas, they will probably last
about a week. You find that new kids coming in are quite blown away with what
they see, they think this is more intense of what I originally would have
expected. We never really had a problem with that.
Having a very small kitchen, people very quickly learn to know their space, and
to know other peoples boundaries, that comes naturally, all professional chefs
understand that and once you have got that you have great communication
and people work together as a team.
Australia is heading in the direction of its regional produce
KM: Give me some examples of that , what do you mean?
We are talking about farmed fish from South Australia.
KM: What kind of fish?
KM: Oh O.K. they are farming King Fish?
Yeah, they are farming King Fish, Mullaway as well, that style and Tasmania is
doing these baby rainbow trout. Baby Rainbow trouts and baby Salmons, and
they are fantastic. The Northern Territory they are starting to farm soft shell
crabs. The cuisine won't change it will always diversify, but what will change is
the regional input into the cities.
KM: Who inspires you?
It is not an individual, a person or a product I think it is the ongoing learning
experience. I mean I had great inspiration last October when I went to South
Australia for a week, I was a food judge for a week, and probably had 65
plates of food, taste
KM: How come you are that small, you should be my size?
Spit it out, spit it out.
We had a fire here about a year ago in the kitchen and what happened was the
fire brigade came through the front door and sprinklers went off and flooded
the entire kitchen and when I went to close down and everybody was given
their meal for free
KM: So the actual first started while there were people in here?
KM: You're kidding?
Full, that was a fantastic experience let me tell you.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE:Teague Ezard, Ezard Restaurant, [Melbourne]