” Macadamia nut is bullshit. They’re not even an Australian produce. ”
” Once you freeze tomatoes the taste is ruined. Same with strawberries. The enzyme gets destroyed under low temperature. Everything you buy, even from Vic Mart, has been delivered frozen. ”
” Kangaroo meat is the most underrated meat in Australia. They’re fantastic produce. The seats in our restaurant are covered by kangaroo fur. ”
” My thermal mixer got broken, but I gave Heston a call and his people managed to sort it out. ”
” Do you know that 30% of our garlics are being dehydrated and used as salt flavouring? ”
” Why am I doing this? Because it’s fun. Life’s short. We should have fun. ”
I knew it was mostly interview talk, but Shannon’s little passing comments revealed a different world from what I’m used to.
Him talking about food is like baby boomers talking about real estate.
It sounded so easy, so elementary, so matter-of-fact. (Of course we should be energy efficient. Of course we should use induction heating. Why use soap when you have e-water?)
And when you reach home, you feel slightly depressed and embarrassed and you can never see your kitchen the same way ever again.
During lunch Vue de monde’s front of house crew came to visit and pick up fresh herbs and plants for dinner service.
So I guess the waiters serving you in the restaurant literally handled your food.
Shannon was talking to 5 people at once. He had to help Phoenix take photos of the birds, tell the boys which veges to pick, call his head chef and ask if he needed the sweet baby garlics, and make sure MJ didn’t trample the plants. Dani went off to look closer at the mansion so I was all alone with the man.
” It’s very easy, just baste them in brown butter and they will taste fantastic,” he said. ” But only use French butter. Australia hasn’t quite figured out butter yet. ”
I was getting personal advice in the igloo with Shannon while he picked some exotic plants with one hand and the phone in the other.
An hour later we proceeded to Chestnut Hill Vineyard. Shannon has an old friend there with a real truffle farm, but MJ was really out of form that day. He was distracted by birds and the kids. At one point he put his paw down to get our attention before taking a big dump on the same spot.
Anyway, it was interesting taking photos of Shannon.
Sometimes he looked so serious, but once in a while he had this innocent, child-like expression on his face.
While researching for this job I came across a portrait of Shannon in this book about chefs around the world and their ideal last supper. He was standing in this underground Melbourne train platform with graffitis plastered all over and I just thought: what a cliché.
But after spending a day with him I understood why that photo was chosen: he’s a Melbourne boy.
He doesn’t want VDM to remind Australians of Europe; he wants the European to come and dine in Australia.
I walked away with one shot I was really happy with. Pheonix was standing next to him with MJ. The son was in the background plotting some mischief. And he was busy looking towards the other end. The magazine probably won’t use it but I thought that encapsulated his current life. The busy father, chef, gardener, business owner, mentor.
Never still. Always on the look out for something new.