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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 28 May 2016
12 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 28 MAY 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM A culinary road trip across Europe Take a trip through some of Europe’s gastronomic capitals in Melbourne’s inner west ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS T he Copper Pot on Seddon's Victoria Street is a recent addition, and most would agree a very welcome one. Jointly owned by executive chef Ashley Davis, his wife Janine and fellow head chef Sascha Rust, the restaurant is very much Davis' baby, and a chance to finally share his love affair with Europe. Now 35, he recalls it all starting some seven years ago after venturing to London as head chef of Michelin-starred restaurant Hélène Darroze at The Connaught - an experience he describes as "a different world". "It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Suddenly I was in this room, I got the keys to the fridge and money was no object," Davis recalls. "There were two million pound paintings on the wall ... it was about this level of elegance and opulence, and we had to design food that was good enough to sit side by side with this." After taking the established restaurant from one to two stars with 20 chefs working under his direction, he eventually returned to Australia to take up a position at Southbank's Pure South before embarking on his own project. Having grown up in Sunshine, for Davis, it seemed only fitting to return to his westie roots, and to what has over the years grown to be a multicultural melting pot. After spending close to nine years in Europe, it's the continent's diversity that made the biggest impression on him. "In Europe you can go from Greece to Germany to England all in a day's work, and there are completely different cultures available there. That's what I was going for at the restaurant - that mixed European experience," he says. "I felt a lot of people had done Greek really well, or Croatian, or German, but none had looked at Europe as a whole - it wasn't really a thing in Melbourne." But The Copper Pot is not the chef's own version of Europe, but rather an attempt to stay true to the roots of European cooking. "It's almost like a culinary 'Best of' of the things I tasted along the way and loved, and therefore I wanted to try and capture that and bring it back here to Seddon," he explains. While Davis is enthusiastic about the produce available Down Under, he admits to facing challenges in finding equivalent ingredients due to geographical location and climate. "It's difficult for us sometimes with certain produce to get anything close to what you will find in Europe, so sometimes you have to translate a dish because I can't get the tiny baby squids that are like one centimetre long that I used to get from the south of Spain. So I use our squid and use a similar Lakes Entrance tiger prawn cooked in garlic, chilli and fino sherry. Crispy pork hock, sauerkraut and summer vegetables.
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