Alert

The maximum quantity permitted for this item is , if you wish to purchase more please call 1300 303 307
Food

Frank Fawkner - A New EXP.erience

Frank Fawkner is one of the bold young chefs leading a new guard of culinary delights in the Hunter Valley.

In the tranquil surrounds of Oakvale Winery, just off Broke Road in Pokolbin’s Hunter Valley, a group of diners sit down at a nondescript sawn-log table. Moments later, a chef brings out a mortar with thick clouds billowing over the sides like a rushing steam train. Inside is a selection of freshly picked herbs, frozen to minus 82ºC by liquid nitrogen. He gives the guests a pestle and instructs them to start crushing the herbs because they are to make their own starter – herb butter to be spread upon a house-made sourdough. They readily accept the challenge, taking to the task with glee. Welcome to EXP.

“EXP. is short for experience, experimenting, expertise, exposure – all of these ideas in one and it really is the backbone to the restaurant,” explains EXP. head chef and owner, Frank Fawkner. Frank is part of a new guard of chefs who are creating a culinary buzz in the Hunter Valley.

THE ROAD TO EXP.ERIENCE

Frank Fawkner, 28, has been immersed in the Hunter Valley food scene since leaving his home on the NSW North Coast and starting an apprenticeship at a small café in the upper Hunter.

Stints at the Crowne Plaza and an enlightening 18 months slaving away in a London restaurant set him on an upward trajectory in the culinary world. His career really ignited when he joined the team at Troy Rhoades-Brown’s acclaimed Muse Restaurant in Pokolbin. Working his way through the ranks, Frank became head chef and helped steer Muse to two hat status in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide.

THANKFUL EXP.OSURE

The accolades may have been enough for many chefs, but Frank has always been ambitious. Two years ago, he heard Oakvale wanted to open a restaurant. He and his wife Emma took the plunge and opened EXP. It has become one of the most talked about venues in the Hunter. For this, Frank gives a lot of the credit to the mentorship he received at Muse.

“I spent four great years with Megan and Troy. They are great bosses and what they’ve done with their business is amazing,” says Frank. “To be there as it grew and flourished was great.

“I was always open with them about wanting to open my own restaurant. And they helped me. When I was looking for a venue, Troy was there for advice. He also helped me with the lease and wages – all the things you don’t get taught as a chef, but need to know when trying to transition to a restaurateur.”

A NEW EXP.ERIMENT

While Frank echoes the mantra of great chefs of ‘designing dishes around fresh, local, seasonal produce’, what he feels sets EXP. apart is the dining experience.

“It’s meant to be fun and energetic, while at the same time exhibit the quality of the top fine dining restaurants,” explains Frank.

“The chefs will serve every course rather than the wait staff. Because the chefs are in the kitchen all day working with the food, we should get out there and explain each dish. And it really works with creating something special. People really feel that ‘food’ connection.

“At the end of the night we give every guest a little gift – a choc chip cookie made with a chocolate ganache that has been infused with my own black garlic.”

CULINARY EXP.LORATION

It is this black garlic that has seen the latest career progression for Frank – food producer. He has just launched Fawk Foods. His first product: Black Garlic.

“It’s pretty much caramelised aged garlic that has three times the amount of sugar than you have in usual garlic,” says Frank. “So you can use it in sweet dishes, and because of its unique umami kind of flavour, you can use it with anything you’d normally use garlic – chicken, fish, beef, it even makes great mayonnaise.”

With such an amazing culinary pedigree, it is a wonder a rich restaurateur hasn’t tried to lure Frank to the big smoke. Not that he’d go.

“I’ve never wanted a restaurant anywhere else than the Hunter,” he says. “It’s the perfect spot. We’ve got amazing produce, great wine and a really creative food scene. We have a lot to give now and, I think, even more in the future.”

Frank Fawkner's Wagyu Scotch Fillet with Black Garlic Emulsion Recipe

"We use this wagyu at EXP and it is amazing. Broccolini and radish are great together and this black garlic sauce ties it all together." Get the full recipe here

This Hunter Valley culinary creation would be perfect with a savoury Hunter Shiraz. But take it to the next level with the De Iuliis LDR Vineyard Shiraz Touriga 2015. Bright and clean with spicy red and black cherry aromas, it has an earthy palate that will work perfectly with this dish - dark fruits with notes of brown spice and violets held in place with a firm backbone of tannins and beautiful acidity.

You might also like

Food
The Sweet Life with Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
Words by Jackie Macdonald on 20 Nov 2017
When Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh met, it was a culinary match made in sweet-filled heaven.  Yotam Ottolenghi wasn’t supposed to be a chef. He was supposed to be an academic like his father and grandfather before him. He certainly has the intellect, having written a masters thesis in philosophy and comparative literature.  But Yotam’s take on creating ‘the good life’ was fed by his lifelong passion for food and eventually he couldn’t resist his kitchen calling. After training at Le Cordon Bleu in London in 1997 and working as a pastry chef at the Michelin-starred The Capital Restaurant, two years later he became head pastry chef at Chelsea’s Baker and Spice. Another three years after that, he opened the first Ottolenghi deli in Notting Hill. Today, there are three more Ottolenghi delis in London, as well as a restaurant, NOPi. He has a regular column in The Guardian, and has written six cookbooks.  How sweet it is
The most recent of his books, Sweet, a baking tome filled with biscuits, cakes, tarts, pies, desserts and confectionary, Yotam co-authored with Malaysian-born Australian-raised pastry chef, Helen Goh. While the book is a recent release, their culinary collaboration goes back over 10 years to when Helen moved to London. At the urging of a friend to check out the Ottolenghi deli, Helen fired off an email to Yotam, they met, and a wonderful partnership began.   Helen became product developer and Yotam recalls how she would walk through his door on a Sunday afternoon, “like a gust of wind or, rather, an over-zealous dusting of icing sugar, carrying more brown carton boxes than humanly possible.” A slew of apologies would follow for how many of her cakes had failed (Helen is a perfectionist) before they would settle into a session of ‘Ottolenghifying’ her creations.   This unique process involves taking a traditional product and giving it a taste twist. As Yotam explains, “We do a lot of stuff that some might consider irreverent, but it’s just adding our traditions, a little bit of Middle East from me and a little bit of South East Asia from Helen.”  So, in Sweet, you’ll find halva and tahini in the brownies, spiced pineapple in the cheesecake and mixed spices in the pound cake. But that’s not to say the recipes veer too far from tradition. As Helen explains, “In baking, I think people still seek the comfortable and the familiar, but they want a little surprise and I think Yotam and I deliver that!”  Aussie inspiration Another thing you’ll find in Sweet is a fair dose of Australia. Having done her training and enjoyed success as a pastry chef here, Helen has been inspired by some of our greats. There are cakes based on creations by Stephanie Alexander and Belinda Jeffrey, not to mention versions of yo-yo and Anzac biscuits.  Yotam, too, owes a lot to baking Down Under. Known as the ‘king of meringue’, he says, “I’m indebted to Antipodean pavlova because it’s so easy to make and you can do whatever you like with it. It takes anything from chocolate and praline to fresh or dried fruit, the options are endless.”  For a taste of Ottolenghifying, we’ve included Yotam’s take on pav to give your sweet tooth a taste of the good life.  Cinnamon Pavlova, Praline Cream and Fresh Figs recipe
Try Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh's cinnamon pavlova, praline cream and fresh figs recipe here . Recipes and images from  Sweet  by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh ( Penguin Random House, $55 )
Food
Jamie Oliver - cooking up a revolution
Words by Mark Hughes on 26 Jan 2017
Jamie Oliver admits he questions reality when he is centre stage at places like the World Health Assembly giving a speech on global nutrition or in the inner sanctum of British Parliament planning the obesity strategy with the Prime Minister. “It’s absolutely nuts,” he tells me down the phoneline from the UK. “To make it even worse, everyone listens, but  I  still feel like the naked chef." It is admirable, but why him? Why has Jamie felt the need to change the way we eat? Why has he became the flag bearer for the food revolution? Responsibility and right place, right time is only part of it. Happily married, he and wife Jools have recently welcomed their fifth child, River, into their lives. “It is brilliant and amazing and we are very thankful,” he says of his newborn son. “Sunday, I looked around the table and everyone was around it and I just went, ‘Bloody hell, how did this happen?’ I know how it happened...but you know…” And there’s the answer. Every parent knows, as does any responsible adult. For Jamie, it's about giving children the nutrition they need to be the best they can be. All this starts with education. Kids, adults, governments; everyone. Life Changes to Eating Australia and Britain are up there with the USA in adult obesity rates. How has this happened in just three short decades? “People always find a way to shortcut,” reasons Jamie. “And the minute they find a way to make time on a job, they fill it up with other stuff. Technology has really added to that. Everyone is juggling more things, more money and more responsibilities – life has just changed. “The reality of it is 56% of Aussies are overweight or obese and health problems are shooting through the roof because of it. And this is at the same time we have more knowledge and beautiful produce. But it comes down to two things: knowing how to cook and access to good food.” Jamie’s plethora of cookbooks and cooking shows is helping solve the first issue. But he’s gone above that, setting up initiatives such as The Ministry of Food, a hands-on community cooking school, The Kitchen Garden Project to introduce growing food and cooking into schools, as well as being part of The Obesity Strategy, Sugar Smart UK, and the list goes on.
Look at What you Serve The second part of the solution – access to good food – is getting people to look at the produce they eat. In short, it’s about more fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and beans. “I just spent two years going around the world to where people live the longest,” says Jamie. “These places are not rich, they are not scientists or nutritionists – they just happen to be good at cooking food that is delicious and really good for you. And it is pretty much vegetarian. They eat meat and fish, but really only twice a week. “Take Korea, for instance. I sat down at a table where there were 10 plates of noodles, heaps of veg – steamed, stir-fried, pickled, fermented – colour everywhere, and then a plate of meat. By default, that is super balanced, super healthy.” The thing is, Jamie knows his stuff. Alongside over two decades of cooking, he has been studying nutrition for the past four years. A full diploma. As a consequence, each recipe in his most recent cookbooks has nutritional information such as calories, fats, protein and carbs, plus special sections offering healthy tips and ways to balance your meals. “Nutrition can be very technical, very scientific,” says Jamie. “So I have tried hard to build bridges between science and understanding it in the real world.” Still the Same Guy All of this seems far removed from the knockabout chef that burst onto our TV screens all those years ago.“I often think the Naked Chef did well in Aussie because, back in the day, my attitude was all about having a laugh and using food to make cool memories and I think that’s very Australian. To a certain degree, nothing has changed. I am inspired by the same things. The food that made me tick, still makes me tick. “But I have always been driven by what people want and these days people ask, what is balance? What does ‘good food’ look like? So the point of books like  Super Food Family Classics  is to create something where every choice is a good choice. “It isn’t about getting it right all the time. Personally, I try to eat to the principles of the book, Monday to Friday lunch. That’s how I do it. And then, guess what? Friday night, I don’t even think about it – the whisky is out, I am planning the weekend, I am getting amongst it. Everyone will find their own pattern, but that generally puts me in a good place.”
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
1 case has been added to your cart.
Cart total: xxx
1 case, 12 bottles, 3 accessories