In The Kitchen With Thomas Pirker // KATERS RESTAURANT
5 Minutes In the Kitchen with Thomas Pirker // KATERS RESTAURANT
Thomas Pirker’s world opened up when he moved from Austria to Australia 14 years ago and got his hands on our delicious seafood!
“I come from a place that doesn’t have an ocean. Of course, in Austria we have plenty of lakes which meant there was trout and other smaller fish to cook with, but I loved discovering and then working with the beautiful seafood available here in Australia,” says Thomas.
Before starting as Executive Chef at Katers Restaurant, Thomas worked with the Hilton Hotel Group, opening hotels in Sydney, Cairns and Surfer’s Paradise.
He also worked in the tiny town of Uki near Murwillumbah. “Uki was tucked away and peaceful. That whole area had incredible ingredients for chefs to work with. I cooked a lot of vegetarian, vegan and alternative style dishes which allowed me to get really creative in the kitchen.”
“My time there changed my whole perspective on cooking.”
Two years ago, Thomas and his wife moved to the Southern Highlands and haven’t looked back.
“I’m excited about we’ve achieved already here at Katers Restaurant and looking forward to keeping the menu new and creative. That’s easy to do when you have a lot of great local, produce to work with.”
“Our menu at Katers is balanced and succinct. I believe a menu is better if you have less dishes. It’s better if you’re focused on core dishes and ingredients. You do it really well. Our zucchini flowers and polenta dishes are our best sellers, so I’ll be looking at putting more vegetarian options on the menu in future. People are loving that these days.”
THE KEY IS LOCAL PRODUCE
“The hospitality industry used to be driven by big, fast and massive amounts of produce. But that meant there was no taste and low quality. I don’t want a big watermelon. I want a tasty one! The industry is moving back to micro growers and using local producers which is a good thing.”
“As a chef, I choose quality over quantity every time and the Southern Highlands allows me to do that.”
WHAT RECIPE ARE YOU COOKING FOR US TODAY?
“I still get impressed by the produce I get to work with in Australia. Sand crab is one of my favourite ingredients and I like working with samphire and macadamias. Did you know samphire is only grown in Australia? It’s pretty rare to get it in Europe, which is why I like working with it. That’s why I wanted to share this recipe. I like combining these sorts of ingredients to make a dish more interesting.
“There is also kohlrabi in the recipe. This is a vegetable that is new to Australia but it’s where I’m from in Europe. It’s like a sweet turnip. When we were kids, my mother cooked a potato kohlrabi ragout and I loved it. Kohlrabi is a really delicate vegetable and works nicely with the crab meat because of the sweetness.”
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