After spending over three months in Italy working at a two-star Michelin restaurant, The Stag’s new head chef Joshua Barry has brought his expertise back to Adelaide. If you’re looking for general pub grub, or wanting to try something more refined, look no further. We sat down with Joshua to talk his favourite dishes, inspirations and what’s cooking in his household this Christmas.
You were recently cooking over in Italy, how was that experience?
I did 14 weeks work experience over in Milan at two-star Michelin restaurant, Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia. I learnt more about technique, respect of produce and different methods – plating was a big aspect. I also learnt more modern and native Italian, which is different.
Why did you decide to become a chef?
Love of food I suppose! Modern Australian cuisine is my favourite. I really like native Australian ingredients, it’s probably some of the best produce in the world and it’s great to be able to experiment with that.
Tell me about your new menu. What is the inspiration behind it? What’s the influence and flavours?
We run two menus. We have our bistro, which is more of a refined dining setup (not fine dining but just a little bit fancier than your general pub) and we have our bar where you’ll find pub classics like schnitzels and burgers. In our bistro we like to keep it really simple and basic with five entrees, six mains and three desserts.
We concentrate on keeping it absolutely perfect. We work with purveyors to find the best produce for our seasonal menu and try to do things people haven’t done before – for example, one of our dishes is king salmon that’s cured in gin from our suppliers at 23rd Street Distillery. We like to try and expand on the local scene.
You have worked in venues all around Adelaide, what made you choose The Stag?
Yeah, I’ve worked at Electra House Hotel, The Kent Town Hotel and The Cumberland Arms. Previous to here, I was briefly the head chef at The Curious Squire helping out a friend, then I got a phone call to work here at The Stag!
The owners and directors here are great. I’m given a lot of freedom and support to do what I want and I have complete control, especially of the bistro where I can create unique dishes. That’s why I love it here.
What’s your favourite dish and why?
We do a dish as an entrée in the bistro called All The Pumpkin. It’s slow roasted pumpkin, burnt pumpkin puree, pumpkin ash, pumpkin seeds, and we also make a pumpkin and honey mead in-house with cinnamon, so everything plated is made mostly of pumpkin. We also use honey for the non-vegans, which we get from the Adelaide Hills, and we use honeycomb from hives and add it over the top to melt. It’s a fun challenge making an entire dish out of a vegetable!
Christmas is around the corner, what’s cooking in your household?
I do really enjoy Christmas Ham but I don’t really cook for Christmas as I do it for a living – I palm it off to relatives!
At the venue we do have a set menu at Christmas for big groups. We have a two or three course option. The star dish for me would have to be the slow-cooked Berkshire pork belly with smoked cauliflower puree, poached quince and we make a pomegranate molasses reduction as a sauce.
The Stag is open Monday to Sunday 11:30am – till late
299 Rundle Street ph: 08 8311 0392