Applejack Hospitality is going from strength to strength, with five venues across Sydney and another in the works. The Applejack portfolio includes The Butler Potts Point, The Botanist Kirribilli, SoCal in Neutral Bay, Endeavour Tap Rooms in The Rocks, Della Hyde in Darlinghurst, as well as a new venue set to open soon in Wynyard.
A LIST Guide quizzed Applejack’s group executive chef Jason Roberson on his career highlights, culinary heroes and favourite dishes.
What are some of your career highlights?
I started my career over 25 years ago in the historic Como Hotel. I started as a pot washer and then gained an apprenticeship as a chef. I had grown up next door to the hotel and it was a real family affair.
Since then some highlights have included working at the Ivy in London and cooking for celebrities such as Elton John, Madonna and Pele while working under the tutelage of executive chef Mark Hicks. Some other highlights have been travelling the high seas working on the Residensea of the World as chef de cuisine of fine dining and gaining my current position, which involves mentoring a group of very talented head chefs at Applejack Hospitality venues.
Do you have a particular area of passion at the moment?
A particular passion at the moment is the food and flavours of the Mediterranean and how that regions favourite dishes and food philosophies translate so well with Australian ingredients and the Aussie way of life.
What is your favourite dish to prepare and why?
A particular favourite I’m loving right now is a whole roasted salmon tail in chermoula with chickpeas, pickled cucumber, roast grapes and yoghurt, which is on the menu at The Botanist Kirribilli. It utilises a secondary cut from the salmon and has a great flavour from cooking on the bone. It’s visually spectacular and a great sharing dish between two or three people.
Who are your culinary heroes?
A culinary hero of mine was the late French chef Joel Robuchon. His culinary technique was second to none; a true chef’s chef. His ability to remain relevant his entire career was a true indication of the man’s legendary talent and influence in the world of haute cuisine. We also share the same birthday and initials which is kind of crazy!
Another culinary hero of mine was Anthony Bourdain, not just because he taught us how to cook, but because of the way he inspired us to eat. He is another chef legend who will be sorely missed but never forgotten.
Can event planners arrange a tasting with you prior to booking an event?
Our event coordinators will guide you through the menu and we encourage you to dine with us prior to familiarise yourself with our food style, flavours and presentation. Menu tastings can be arranged by request and are subject to availability.
What can you tell us about Applejack’s new venue?
I’m really excited about the recent expansion of Applejack. We have some amazing activity in the pipeline including the recent purchase of Steel Bar & Grill in Wynyard, which is now under construction. Stay tuned for the grand reveal soon!
If you had to choose only one thing from your menu to recommend, what would it be?
I really love our 24-hour slow cooked 1200 gram Lamb Barbacoa from The Butler. It’s such a diverse dish and has just the right amount of Ibero-American spice. I love how it can be enjoyed to warm up on a cooler night, paired perfectly with our 2012 Campo Viejo Reserva Tempranillo, or shared between friends over a summer feast.