Finn has been a pillar of Adelaide’s dining scene for more than 20 years. In 1993, she became Australia’s first female executive chef for an international hotel, and during her time heading up the kitchens at the Hilton Adelaide she received many awards.
Before opening Mayflower Restaurant & Bar in 2014 as part of the Mayfair Hotel redevelopment of the Colonial Mutual Building on King William Street, Finn and her partner, chef Spencer Cole, ran Urban Bistro on the ground floor of the Queen Victoria Apartments.
Finn is also known for her support of the local food industry, not only as a chef, but as a food writer, cooking competition judge and for her work with the Tasting Australia Festival. Her passion for local ingredients extends to the Mayfair Hotel rooftop, where she keeps a couple of beehives.
“Bee numbers are dwindling on a global level, which presents enormous problems for agriculture and horticulture and our society in general,” she says. “The Mayfair Hotel is committed to using sustainably, locally sourced products wherever possible, and to be able to produce our own honey is further evidence of this commitment.
“The bees are producing enough Mayfair Rooftop Bee Raw Honey and honeycomb to use throughout the hotel, including in several dishes in the Mayflower Restaurant.
“Our honey is also one of the star ingredients in the Hennessy’s (Mayfair Hotel rooftop bar) signature cocktail, The Honey Trap – a buzzing honey gingered caprioska with honey-infused vodka, lime, ginger and mint.”
Here, Finn gives more insight into the menu at Mayflower Restaurant.
The kitchen culture at Mayflower Restaurant & Bar is …
Food-focused. It’s about respect, skills, quality, sustainability, character and training.
Who are you cooking for?
We are cooking for the local market – educated food people who enjoy quality. People who are not trying to be ‘foodie’, but who respect quality produce. The aim is to not try to make it too complicated.
Describe the current menu?
Classic hotel fare, bringing back the French classics and old-school style. It’s a bit of fun with ’80s influences and a modern-day twist.
What does it seek to achieve?
We are trying to be a sustainable business in a competitive environment. We are celebrating the golden era of elegant dining at The Mayfair Hotel with style. We deliver this with knowledge and warmth.
Who or what has had the greatest influence on your cooking?
Without doubt, the chef behind the chef is my husband Spencer Cole. He trained me as an apprentice and he helped me develop a passion for all things food and wine. I am inspired by The Savoy, Le Meurice and QT hotels, and also our local producers whose livelihoods depend on cheesemaking, fishing, farming and animal husbandry.
What are the hero ingredients?
Handmade quality butter puff pastry, winter truffles, SA lobsters, raw honey, girolles (chanterelle mushrooms), Coffin Bay oysters, half-shell scallops, king brown mushrooms and whole baby cauliflowers.
What is your favourite dish on the menu?
I have a few favourites and they are the most popular dishes on the menu: the Duck Pie and the Lobster Bisque en Croute, following closely behind the Beef Wellington on the carving trolley every Wednesday lunch time. The raw honey harvested from our own rooftop is used to create a honey and lemon beehive dessert (pictured top) which sits proudly on our signature dessert trolley.
What is your favourite food and wine match?
As spring arrives and summer is not too far away, I am thinking of lighter dishes. My favourite is the traditional vol au vent with leek fondue, girolle mushrooms and pea fricassee (pictured below) paired with Romney Park Blanc de Blancs 2010 (Adelaide Hills). I love so many Champagnes, but this is my local favourite. It’s made from Chardonnay grapes and has hints of lemon sorbet and honey. Cheers to Rod Short (winemaker).
What are you cooking at home?
After a long week in the kitchen, home is all about keeping it simple, fresh and healthy. I like to keep it to vegetarian, single-origin, local and organic, if possible, using lots of lentils, chickpeas, vegetables and salads. In saying that, our 16-year-old can eat his body weight in anything delicious and nutritious and prepared quickly.
Finn will further showcase the Mayfair honey at a high tea where guests will be treated to a Honey and Wildflower Gateaux Buffet and guest speakers – garden expert Michael Keelan and apiarist Lorraine Gilbert – will discuss the importance of urban beehives and give tips on keeping bees. The Wildflower & Honey High Tea will be held on Sunday, October 9, from 2pm to 4pm in the Mayflower Restaurant. Tickets are $65, which includes a sample of the hotel’s honey to take home. For more information and bookings phone 8210 8899.
Mayflower Restaurant & Bar
Mayfair Hotel, 45 King William Street, Adelaide, 8210 8899
Open seven days.