Playing with fire at Arkhé, opening of Jake Kellie’s flame restaurant in Norwood next week


As a former chef of Burnt Ends – Singapore’s Michelin-starred modern Australian barbecue restaurant and ranked among the top 50 in the world – Jake Kellie is a dedicated student of the Open Flame Cooking School. It’s no wonder then that fire is the star of Arkhé (pronounced Ar-kay), his highly anticipated new restaurant arriving on Stone’s Throw’s former site on The Parade.

“’Arkhe’, in ancient Greek, means the main central element, so basically it’s the start of fire,” Kellie said. Large format sheet earlier this year. “Fire was how people started to cook. Nothing beats the taste of something cooked over a fire and everything is going to be touched by the fire in one way or another, even if it is just a touch of smoke or a little char kiss.

When Large format sheet visits again a week after it opened on November 24, it’s all go systems. There is a feverish energy in the air as Kellie and her crew familiarize themselves with their new surroundings. This includes a fully wood-fired kitchen (there is no gas or electricity used in the cooking process). Much of the action will revolve around the Forno Alfresco two-and-a-half-ton kiln. It has a double cavity: on one side an oven – which can reach up to 1,100 degrees Celsius and is fed with bark of iron which will produce charcoal for four elevation grates, an open hearth, a similar fryer to a cauldron and a smoke box – and on the other side, a 160-170 degree holding oven for slow roasting.

It’s a dream kitchen for Kellie, a native of the central coast of New South Wales who made her mark at Victorian restaurants such as Estelle in Northcote and The Lakeside Mill in Pakenham before moving to Singapore in 2017. A year later he came second at the S. Pellegrino Young Chef Competition in Milan. After moving to Adelaide last year, he spent time cooking in pop-ups before partnering with The Palmer Hospitality Group (2KW, Paloma, Fishbank) to create a permanent home.

But the seeds of Arkhe were sown in 2019, when Kellie orchestrated a fleeting Burnt Ends dining experience called the Valē. “When I walked through this space for the first time with Marty [Palmer] for the first time, and I saw the kitchen and the dining room, I knew I could make them whatever I wanted them to be, ”he says. “The wooden benches, the way they’re structured, the cooking line – that’s what the Valē was always meant to be. It is therefore deeply to see the kitchen of my dreams finally come to life. (The cutlery and plates he had custom-made for these pop-up events were airlifted from Singapore and will be used at Arkhé’s chef’s table for eight for bespoke tasting menus.)

Considering the Burnt Ends connection, fire-cooked meat is naturally a focal point, but the menu goes way beyond that. When Arkhé opens next week, Kellie and her team of young chefs – including sous chefs Maria Delengas (ex-Shobosho, Bloom), Zac Goddard (formerly of the Michelin-starred Leroy in London) and Luke Brown (ex -Coriole) – prepare a menu of delicate snacks and comfort food that respects seafood and vegetables as much as red meat and poultry.

You could start with Kellie’s toasted ocean jacket cheeks with ultra-thin strips of homemade lardo on toast. Or a potato crumpet topped with taramasalata and Yarra Valley brook trout roe. As more and more fine diners are used to, the food playfully sits between low and high cuisine: there are also besan tacos topped with smoked eggplant and pickled Welsh white onions and a smoked pork empanada served with annatto cream. Wood-fired sourdough bread replaces the usual bread dish with baked Section 28 taleggio, roasted onions and sour cream. “I love sourdoughs and all that, but… I prefer it to be a little more fun, a little more trendy,” says Kellie.

After the snacks come the entrees, which can take the form of pint-sized pioppino mushrooms, barbecued and served with purple asparagus over curdled cow’s milk, in a smoked onion broth. Or roast chicken with grilled mustard paste and salted plum; grilled lamb chops with soy glaze and fried cured; or Goolwa pipis with Indian spices and brown butter in a smoked chicken broth.

On the main course, the hispi cabbage in salt with ajo blanco and fried almonds and the whole roasted scallops with a fennel and seaweed salad. If you want to push the boat, there’s the Southern Rock lobster served with a citrus butter sauce and yuzu kosho or the awesome dry-aged Mayura Station cube roll with beef garum and house mustard.

Even the desserts were hit by the fire in one way or another: smoked pineapple ice cream and sabayon (or sabayon), grilled strawberry sorbet served with cultured cream and homemade kombucha and hazelnut butter pie from Goddard drizzled with smoked honey.

Despite the care and thought that has gone into every inch of the menu (and top notch cuisine), Kellie plays it down. “I just roasted some shit, yeah,” he said. “These are simple cooking techniques, cooking over a fire. It’s not supposed to be complicated… We just want to have fun and make it interesting for the diners, but most of all, make it tasty.

Arkhé will open on Wednesday, November 24. Reservations are open now.


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