Ben Shewry, the head chef of Attica, in Melbourne, has been delighting his patrons and critics with some wonderfully creative and exotic dishes that show off his talents which have already earned him the coveted Restaurant of the Year award in the Age Good Food Guide. Drawing on the heritage of New Zealand and Australia, both in the traditional, native cooking techniques and the modern infusion, his creations are part of the new wave in the food scene in Australia.
In Origin, Ben brings both some of his great recipe ideas and the inspiration behind his passion for cooking. Staring life on a isolated farm in New Zealand, where he spent his formative years, he learnt about the importance of making the most of the ingredients to hand. These influences are brought out in the book, as it is as much a personal journey as recipes from Attica.
Recipes, like the Pork, Puha, Eel and Cress Oil recipe, are accompanied with the story behind the recipe. This adds to the overall feel that it is as much a personal journal as a recipe book.
While being unique in style, the recipes fall within Starters, Mains and Desserts, so no need to panic about not knowing which dish to serve. To list some of the Starters, you will find Snow Crab, which is presented in the shape of Mount Taranaki, Asparagus, Buttermilk and Smoked Oil, which Ben suggests you try making your own Buttermilk.
Mains include Lamb, Mushrooms roasted over wood and Sauce of Forbs and Marron, Cured Beef and Wild Sea Flora. Both these recipes have some ingredients been hand foraged, but you are able to substitute with more readily available ingredients if needs be. Desserts include Strawberry Melon, which shows some of Ben's classic dishes, while his Raspberries, Fig-leaf, Cheese and Ice, takes a left field approach to bring a wonderful dessert that has wowed the critics.
With mouthwatering recipes from the Attica, narrative written with a genuine passion for the subject and beautiful photos throughout, we certainly can recommend Ben's first book as a masterpiece. While great for our Australian readers, the book is still ideal for anywhere, as there are plenty of alternatives to the more unusual ingredients that the non-antipodeans may find hard to obtain.