Food and beverage stories
Goose bumps inspire fine dining
By Graeme Phillips
Produce such as Tasmanian salmon, beef and oysters feature on many restaurant menus around Australia. But Philip Kennedy’s Pure South is unique in offering a menu composed almost exclusively of Tasmanian produce and a predominantly Tasmanian drinks list.
So successful has Pure South been in its 13 years of operations in a prime waterfront location on Melbourne’s popular Southbank precinct, that Mr Kennedy recently doubled the restaurant’s seating capacity, opening a more casual PS Bar and Kitchen at river level and the new, very elegant Pure South Dining upstairs looking over the Yarra River towards the bright lights of Melbourne’s skyline.
Mr Kennedy said the all-Tasmanian concept came to him on Flinders Island as he watched a chef at the Furneaux Tavern speaking by phone to a fisherman returning to harbour and writing her day’s menu according to the fisherman’s catch.
“How good is this?” he said to himself. “It gave me goose bumps!”
And so, instead of the modern steak house he’d planned, he opened Pure South in 2004, specialising in produce sourced from a carefully chosen and cultivated network of small suppliers on King and Flinders islands and parts of the Tasmanian mainland.
Over the years, Kennedy has brought his chefs and front-of-house team on visits to his Tasmanian suppliers two or three times a year.
“The visits help inspire the staff and give them a hands-on appreciation of what it’s all about, a respect for the produce, where and how it’s grown, fished and produced," Mr Kennedy said.
"And, most importantly, it builds personal relationships with the people who make it all happen.”
These regular visits also uncover new products and have resulted in menus that proudly boast the Tasmanian provenance of a wide range of featured ingredients.
Of the 17 dishes on Pure South Dining’s menu only one doesn’t contain one or more products from the State.
The oysters come from Lease 65 at St Helens, while the in-house butter is churned from cream regularly sent by the bucket load by John Healy at the 120-year-old Pyengana Dairy in the State’s north-east.
Mr Kennedy gets his quail, ducks and other poultry from a small farm at Scottsdale.
There’s Robbins Island wagyu pastrami, octopus caught and processed by the Hardy family in the north-west, Mark Eather’s squid, kingfish and white fish, plus Flinders Island’s famed saltgrass lamb and wallaby.
Pure South used the name Cape Grim for their beef from that area before the name was officially registered by the Greenham family of Smithton.
An heirloom tomato salad is combined with Tongola goats curd from the Huon Valley.
Anvers Chocolates provides the makings for other desserts, as well as after-dinner treats.
One of Head Chef, David Hall’s outstanding creations is a mousse of smoked trout cupped in a taco shell coloured with Tasmanian squid ink and topped with trout roe, the trout coming from a fresh-water producer inland from the Cradle Coast.
There’s also a six-course tasting menu comprising a regional culinary tour of the State with a dish each from St Helens, the east coast, Scottsdale, Flinders Island, King Island and Pyengana.
The drinks list too is an impressive selection of Tasmania’s best regional sparkling, table and dessert wines, artisan beers and ciders, as well as our internationally acclaimed whiskies and other spirits.
“All this,” Mr Kennedy said proudly, “from those goose bumps I experienced on Flinders Island.”
Image courtesy of Pure South
6 June 2017, Edition 184