Russell Blaikie, Chef/Owner of Must Winebar
From growing up in dairy and sheep farm in Cowaramup to cutting his teeth in a five-star hotel and working at the Dorchester Hotel in London, and cultivating his passion for food through travels in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal when he was in his early 20s, Russell Blaikie’s career was certain from early on.
One of Perth’s best known chefs, and owner of Must Winebar in Highgate and Margaret River, Blaikie is passionate about fresh, locally sourced produce for his seasonal, French influenced bistro fare. Almost 200 of these dishes - from charcuterie to boullibase - are also featured in Blaikie’s book, Must Eat, an homage to the restaurant’s 12 strong years.
Favourite dish for winter?
I’ve just tasted a true free range chicken from the guys at Mount Barker. It’s a big bird, and I whipped up a mix of thyme, lemon zest, pepper, sea salt and French butter and pushed that under the skin before I slow-roasted it. Absolutely fabulous with some sourdough bread we bake at home, a warm salad of roast beetroot from Manjimup, organic feta and parsley from my garden.
One ingredient you couldn’t live without?
Avocado. Yes it sounds a little weird, but I love them. Our kids survived their younger years almost entirely on avocado dip (avocado whipped with yoghurt, lemon juice and a pinch of salt) and we always have a couple in the pantry at home. Eating a fresh, ripe avocado is always a treat – whether it’s tossed through a salad of organic feta, spinach and pine-nuts, or sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, lemon juice and sea salt or, as our family standard Saturday morning “after the farmers market” breakfast, sliced, on a toasted bagel with goat’s cheese and maybe a smattering of cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of local olive oil.
Most cherished tool in the kitchen?
My Thermomix. It’s like an apprentice in your kitchen at home, and it doesn’t answer back!
Perth’s best kept dining secret?
There are a few places flying under the radar – Viet Hoa produces the freshest, cheapest Vietnamese food for the masses in Perth; Good Fortune (across William Street from Viet Hoa) makes some magic with its roast duck and pork; Clarkes of North Beach is amazing fine dining; Beluga benefits from Chris Cheong’s deft touch; and Ha-Lu produces sharp Japanese food.
Favourite foodie city and why?
In Australia, it’s Melbourne. Melbourne restaurateurs have an amazing sense of style, Melbourne chefs cook great food, and their service staff understand the concept of a true dining experience. So, to me Melbourne is the complete package when it comes to food in Australia. Overseas, it’d have to be Paris. You do have to search a little more to find the perfect experience (got to keep away from the tourist traps!), but you are surrounded by food and wine when you walk through the streets, so that when it all comes together – often in one of the small bistros that dot the city – dining is an experience that can be exhilarating.
Greatest indulgence, food or otherwise?
I’m a coffee fanatic, and I bought my family a commercial one group coffee machine which we use at home. I say ‘we’, as my son Alex works part time in our local favourite café, Fortyseven Kirwan Street. He spends some time on the coffee machine there (they make fabulous coffee) and is always keen to jump on the machine at home.
Where do you go to escape Perth in winter?
I don’t usually try to escape Perth in winter; I like it here in the colder weather. I’m a surfer, so there’s usually some good swell on the coast, and there’s nothing better than a plate of comfort food and a glass of red in the evening after a good surf during the day. That said, I also like to travel to Bali, usually twice a year. My family enjoys the decadence of villa life, with our own chef and staff, and we have developed some great friendships with some Balinese locals. If you ever get the chance, make sure you go to a Balinese wedding; it is an experience not to be missed!
519 Beaufort St, Highgate. T: 9328 8255
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