Food Wine Produce | People and Places
27/05/2021
FORK TALK – Executive chef Simon Tarlington — Doot Doot Doot, 166 Balnarring Rd, Merricks North
by Mornington Peninsula Magazine

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Simon Tarlington chef from Doot Doot Doot

Photo Credit: Dan Preston

A CHAT WITH OUR FOOD, WINE & DINING EXPERTS

Executive chef Simon Tarlington — Doot Doot Doot

You seamlessly combine contemporary and country in your dishes. What’s your secret?

I’ve always had an affinity for fresh local produce, utilising native and specialty ingredients that only this country has to offer. When you start cooking with a great base ingredient, let it speak for itself.

A lot of the food on the Doot Doot Doot menu focuses on this. However, I have challenged myself to present a range of cooking techniques and dishes that reflect the restaurant’s surrounds and will give the customer an entirely new experience.

Tasmanian Sea Treasures – Photo by Chloe Dann

Doot Doot Doot’s tasting menu includes a la carte options for entrée, main and dessert, with complementing snacks and sides. Which dish is your favourite?

It is hard to narrow down one favourite, so I’ll give you my choices for entrée, main and dessert. I would start with the jerusalem artichoke, chestnut and pear crumble served with nasturtium cream. This is a great vegetarian dish to start your meal – it is sweet but rich and earthy. In keeping with our ethos, the dish incorporates seasonal Mornington ingredients. Even the artichokes come from the Jackalope kitchen garden. Main course would be the baby barramundi cooked in paperbark, with braised lentils, sea herbs, lemon aspen and a rich butter sauce. Barramundi is a delicate fish, and the dish is beautifully balanced. For dessert I couldn’t go past the pumpkin pie with JimmyRum and raisin ice-cream. You’ll know why when you taste it.

Could you tell us a little about your industry experience?

At the age of 13 my family relocated to Brisbane. It was here that I fell in love with cooking. I started my first job when I was 13 as a school-based apprentice at Broncos Leagues Club. Six months later I was offered an apprenticeship at one of Brisbane’s highly renowned 5-star hotels, the Hilton. Here I learnt the basics of cookery. Once I completed my apprenticeship, I worked at a small restaurant called Gianni’s. After 10 months I decided to pack my bags and cross the pond, making the move to London. I worked with some incredible chefs there and in some incredible Michelin-starred restaurants, including Pied a Terre and Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley. My first paid job in London was working at Maze (one Michelin star) for a very famous chef named Jason Atherton. After a year and a half at Maze I moved to Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (three Michelin stars) for the inspirational chef Clare Smyth. After two years in London I moved back to Australia where I landed a job at one of Australia’s most famous restaurants, Quay in Sydney, under the tutelage of the amazing Peter Gilmore. While working at Quay I was nominated for the Appetite for Excellence Young Chef of the Year Awards and eventually became a Young Chef of the Year national finalist. In late 2014 I was approached by the Railway Hotel in Chapel St, Windsor, to take on the role of executive chef. In my time at the Railway Hotel I created the Highline Restaurant, which has been the recipient of multiple awards for its contemporary Australian menu using produce from the owner’s farm in the Strathbogie Ranges. In March 2019 I relocated to the Mornington Peninsula where I took over the restaurant at Paringa Estate, where I was awarded two Chef Hats in the 2020 Good Food Guide.

Photo Credit: Dan Preston

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