Stepping into the top job at Oakridge’s celebrated restaurant in the Yarra Valley, Aaron Brodie brings with him three years in the kitchen under previous chefs Jo Barrett and Matt Stone, plus five years working in the London restaurants of Gordon Ramsay and Shane Osborn.
Aaron recently chatted to Melbourne Food & Wine Festival about his new role, what he’s cooking and the must-try dishes at Oakridge :
My brief for my new gig is developing dishes from the ingredients in Oakridge’s kitchen garden and from our incredible local producers. My job is really just to make beautiful food that tastes like the Yarra Valley.
I’m passionate about all things hand-crafted and handmade. There’s no greater reward than seeing people get excited about something that’s taken weeks, months, even years to perfect. I remember last year when chef Mauro Colagreco visited us for lunch just a few months before his restaurant Mirazur was named the number-one restaurant at the World’s 50 Best. We served him a dessert that included pistachio-skin jam and raw pistachio ice-cream. He was floored by it. Turns out he’d never eaten raw pistachio before and he just got so excited. He was so curious that he asked us to bring him the raw ingredients to taste. We were all on a high for days afterwards.
Which means I’ll be cooking anything that challenges or excites me and my team, from the simplest to the most complex of preparations. Things like fermented spring fruits, preserving the last of the winter vegetables, salamis made with native meats or smoked bellies of Yarra Valley gin pigs – nothing is off the table.
The best cooking discovery I’ve made during lockdown is… I didn’t discover anything cooking-related but, having worked at Cannings butcher shop for the last seven months, serving the public mask to mask, I learned some valuable skills in communication and customer service. Most of my career to date has been spent in a kitchen, so these aren’t skills that I’ve needed before. I’m really grateful for that experience.
I’d like you to come in and see us at Oakridge when we reopen so you can take a deep breath in, let it out and relax knowing that we will take care of you. There is so much motivation in our team right now to be back doing what we really want to do be doing. Despite the difficulties of the current climate, it’s allowed us to reset and refocus. We’re all excited to serve guests again.
If there’s one thing you can’t leave without trying it’s the everything. Oakridge is really about the whole package, from the wine to the food to the relaxed and friendly service. One doesn’t work without the other. But having said that, our charcuterie is pretty damn good. We make everything ourselves – emu mortadella, bresaola, kangaroo saucisson sec and capocollo – and it’s all seriously delicious.
To read the full interview on the MFWF website click HERE
Keep an eye on our Instagram @oakridgewines for details on reopening and how to book. In the meantime, follow Aaron’s cooking adventures at @ajbrodie78.