On the Menu at Cupitt’s Estate
Chef Jonathan Pryor talks about what’s on the menu during autumn and winter at Cupitt’s Estate, a winery, brewery, fromagerie and restaurant in Ulladulla in the Shoalhaven region of the NSW South Coast.
Can you tell us about the culinary direction at Cupitt’s?
I would describe my food style as “super gardeny”. It reflects what is coming out of the market garden that’s 100m from the kitchen and I’ll change the menu to reflect what’s growing. It’s very inspiring to watch a plant grow from seedling to fruit to flower to seed and we might use it at all different stages: using the flowers as a garnish and pickling seed pods as well as using the vegetable itself.
What else is good in the region?
Seafood is massive here – our fishing port in Ulladulla brings in world-class seafood. It’s like having the ocean on the doorstep. We also have amazing local apiarists and potato farmers – we try to tap into small producers and give our diners a real sense of South Coast food.
So what’s on the menu this autumn and winter?
We change the menu all the time, depending on what’s growing. Through the colder months we’ll have a lot of carrots, cabbages, kales, lots of brassicas and greens like gai lan. Seafood always plays a prominent part: we’ll do local snapper with chargrilled gai lan and fermented chilli and I do a cured kingfish with burnt lemon, charred on the barbecue. A lot of dishes use garden garnishes like fennel fronds, broccoli flowers and snow pea tendrils. We also have a lot of cucamelons coming on – we pickle those in sugar, vinegar, dill and chilli and they will be used as a garnish.
Sounds like you do a lot of curing and preserving?
We never throw anything out. We’ll pickle, preserve, dehydrate. We make a carrot and beetroot ketchup and that’s great with lamb or fish. Let’s say we have a lot of chillies: we’ll ferment them, spread the paste over a sheet, dry it out and blitz it up. That powder could go onto the rim of a cocktail glass or to garnish a dip. If there’s something we really can’t use, we compost it and it goes straight back onto the garden.
What do you love about working so closely with the garden?
The trials and tribulations of growing can be forgotten in modern food, but when you see how hard gardeners work to get a crop, it becomes so satisfying to be the one who gets it onto the plate. I’ve developed a deep respect for the people who grow our food and a greater appreciation for the produce itself.