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Behind the Menu: Riverside Restaurant

Restaurants

With more than 30 years' experience, InterContinental Adelaide executive chef Tony Hart considers himself a "granddad" in the kitchen, mentoring the 40 chefs under his charge in the art of fine dining.

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Here, Hart reveals the chefs who have influenced him, and offers insight into the food style and menu at the InterContinental’s Riverside Restaurant.

The kitchen culture at Riverside Restaurant is …
One of family. We spend a lot of time together and as such look after one another. I would have described myself as the father, but am probably more like the grandad these days! We have a lot of young chefs who keep the old hands on their toes; they are eager to learn and this creates vibrancy.

Who are you cooking for?
Our food is all about our guests, to the point where we tailor dishes to individual tastes. We have a very wide customer base, from those looking for an experience to others who travel a lot and are looking for a connection to home through comfort-style dishes.

Describe the current menu?
We are currently in winter mode with all the great produce that brings, so the current menu shows lots of slow-cooked dishes such as lamb shoulder, pork belly and root vegetables. The kitchen also features nightly specials which not only allow the team to create, but also to access produce at its peak.

What does it seek to achieve?
We want to showcase the best South Australian produce and deliver this to our guests with as much integrity as possible. Its very easy to overwork food and end up with something on the plate that doesn’t make sense. Produce is the star and we partner with a lot of passionate producers and suppliers like Michael Wohlstadt from Barossa Heritage Pork, Margy and Chris Abbott from AMJ Produce, the gang from Samtass seafoods and Duncan Booth from Holco meats to deliver the best product we can.

Behind the Menu: Riverside Restaurant

Tony Hart, executive chef, InterContinental Adelaide. Photo: Tony Lewis

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your cooking?
I read lots, so authors and chefs like Elizabeth David and Marco Pierre White were heavy influencers when I was younger.

I’ve been lucky to have had a number of great mentors: Ingo Schwatze, my patisserie lecturer at Regency TAFE, who has an incredible passion for our industry and a determination to see skills passed on and for the industry to continually evolve; Simon Bryant, for his intelligence, his interest in the science of cooking and for his general naughtiness and making work fun; and Cheong Liew, for his skill, unbelievable humility and for his ability to still take joy from the sharing of a meal.

What are the hero ingredients?
Our butter is from The Dairyman in the Barossa … it’s the real thing … great with a slab of sourdough and a sprinkling of sea salt. Our pork – milk-fed heritage breeds that run free on Michael Wohlstad’s property. And any South Australian seafood, but I particularly love our Spencer Gulf prawns.

What is your favourite dish on the menu?
For me, it’s the slow-cooked lamb shoulder. I love secondary cuts and the change the product goes through when it’s cooked for such along time; the protein breaks down and you end up with this unctuous mass that is incredibly tasty and satisfying to eat. It reminds me of being a kid doing Saturday roast with the grandparents.

What is your favourite food and wine match?
Probably good steak with a glass of red. My buddy Paul Drogemuller from Paracombe Wines makes some fantastic styles, and I really love his Rueben with a medium-rare sirloin. I like to salt and pepper liberally, oil and then cook on our little Weber Q with some of my partner Lisa’s roast potatoes. The Weber is a fantastic tool for imparting some smoke and flavour, and the Rueben is predominantly a Cabernet Sauvignon blended with four other grape varietals; it showcases Paul’s skill in blending.

What are you cooking at home?
Lots of pulses at the moment. Dirty Inc has a great variety of locally grown chickpeas and lentils and I love their earthiness and versatility at this time of year.

Riverside Restaurant
InterContinental Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, 8238 2384
Open seven days

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