Andrew McConnell

Andrew McConnell is one of Australia's most successful and acclaimed restaurateurs, having been named Chef of the Year no fewer than three times since 2007. He is co-owner of five(!) Top 100 Melbourne restaurants — a market that is saturated with culinary innovation. One of Andrew's stunning restaurants is Supernormal, which was awarded Best New Restaurant 2015 in The Age Good Food Guide, the most renowned local award. Andrew's cooking blends cultures and continents together. He has been interested in Asian food for as long as he can remember and has cooked it at home for many years. However, professionally, his training and experience was all about classical European cooking. In 1995, he went to live and work in China, and was the head chef in Hong Kong and Shanghai kitchens, cooking European food in upmarket settings but without all the fine dining pomp and ceremony. He stayed for five years, eating Chinese food twice a day and managed a team of 20 to 30 Chinese chefs — three of whom were employed just to cook staff meals. Having experienced the wonder and variety of Chinese home cooking and street food, this style of food became intrinsic to the way he ate. On returning to Melbourne, Andrew realised there was no easy access to those same flavours, and that it was the way he wanted to keep eating. He set about finding a way to cook Asian food outside Asia — he was conscious of using the best produce, cooking it carefully; using corn starches and fats sparingly not excessively, lightening the recipes without losing their flavour profile. This approach was influenced by Japan, a country he is particularly fond of. And the Japanese approach to cooking has given him the confidence and awareness to know when to stop adding to a dish — "How to make it about essence rather than excess." Ten years after leaving China, he felt equipped to cook Asian food in a restaurant setting. Golden Fields opened in Melbourne's inner-city St Kilda in 2011, and in some ways was a prototype for Supernormal, with its mix of Chinese, Korean and Japanese dishes with a modern interpretation. Supernormal is in Flinders Lane, central Melbourne, at the base of a new skyscraper. WIth some testing and tweaking, Japanese flavour and technique came more prominently into the mix of food. The place has a big open kitchen and feels like a canteen, somewhere with the colour, mood and pace of a European train station (the long bar is there so that solo diners feel comfortable too - but with a level of service that takes it up a notch. The menu includes small dishes you'd come back for if you only had a short time to eat, but with enough too for diners who want to make a night of it.  

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Books by Andrew McConnell