THE ÉLECTRONS LIBRES-NEW ZEALAND CHEF: MICHAEL MEREDITH
The Électrons Libres, is a group of chefs that are as individual or a leaders of a group have taken a unique route that goes beyond the learning process. Their philosophy transforms the cuisine of the present time as well as the cuisine of the future in a specific area (place) or country. Sometimes they are the leaders of a culinary movement but often, they are alone in their search.
I strongly believe in the cuisine (and chefs) is done in Australia (and in the region) actually and I can now add a very talented New Zealander chef, Michael Meredith. As some of his fellow Australians, Meredith has a mix of influences and a special talent to highlight a unique terroir.
Chef Michael Meredith was born in the South Pacific island-nation of Samoa. He grew up watching his mother cook for her pancake stall in the market of the capital city Apia. At the age of 19, he enrolled at Auckland University of Technology and a few time after at The Culinary Institute
of America. At New York, he completed his internships at Montrachet, Grammercy Tavern and others. Back in New Zealand, he worked for the best of Auckland: Antoine’s, Vinnies and The Grove before to open his own restaurant, Merediths, in 2007.
The chef Meredith creates a cuisine simple, fresh, pure, where an ingredient or a detail may be very important in the final result. So, not far south of the chef Ben Shewry and the Australia, there is Michael Meredith and his very personal cuisine. Certainly soon, will be seen in some important European culinary events!
Q+A WITH MICHAEL MEREDITH (www.merediths.co.nz ):
1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?
MMeredith- My philosophy is “Energy is Everything” and also creating and re-creating food memories as a whole experience. We are fortunate to have a young dining scene in New Zealand which allows me to be open with cultural influences in my cooking. I am very open minded about trying new ideas, techniques and flavours pairings, but more importantly has a clear focus on seasonality, flavours and its origin.
2-(Scoffier) I had the chance to interview the chef Ben Shewry (born in New Zealand) and he uses a traditional method (Hangi) to realize its famous Slow cooked potato. Is there a part of Samoa Islands in your cuisine (cookery method, products, flavours, others)?
MMeredith- I have a lot of childhood memories from Samoa and tend to use some ingredients from the Pacific Islands. I have tried a few methods but the flavours are relatively influenced by modern approach. As a child we used to have Umu on Sunday. It is a traditional method of cooking on the ground with rocks that were heated until hot then covered with banana and breadfruit leaves for two hours. I have tried to open roasting coco beans before grounding them, then reset before using it, gives more a roasted, smoky flavour that you don’t get from chocolate.
3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?
MMeredith- I use a lot of coconut milk and the flesh, taro leaves and mostly tropical fruits. At the moment we are using limu (sea grapes) in our Tio Point Oyster dish. We used to harvested these and eat them from the reefs as a boy on the beach growing up in Samoa.
4-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?
MMeredith- I admire the work of Ben Shewry (Attica) and I am inspired by the philosophy of the New Nordic Cuisine but there are a lot of great minds (Chefs) out there which provides a great source of inspirations.
5-(Scoffier) How would you describe the Restaurant (or gastronomy) scene in New Zealand actually?
MMeredith- The restaurant scene here in New Zealand is very young and vibrant, but has evolved and grown considerably over the last 7 years. There are a lot of great producers and growers who are committed to supplying the local market which has bought a level of pride for chefs to use New Zealand produce , also a lot of chefs who are coming back to NZ bringing with them great experience and skills who in turns, gives our young chefs good training. But also a lot of is about education and trust for both ourselves and the dining public.
6-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu at Meredith’s?
MMeredith- I am inspired by what is in season which gives me the foundation to create the menu. From there I develop ideas and create a dish relating to the nature of the ingredient, but sometimes things I read and memories from my travels and just being open to the universe.
7-(Scoffier) Do you have your own garden and foraging also? Or you have developed good relationships with local producers?
MMeredith- A small amount is foraged, such as edible flowers and herbs but I have a good relationship with suppliers for most of the ingredients.
8-(Scoffier) Do you use some elements from molecular gastronomy or new technology in your cooking techniques? If yes,
MMeredith- We use equipment like Pacojet and Thermo mixer and sous-vide cooking techniques.
9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Michael Meredith? (Actually the wines from New Zealand are really popular in North America, can you suggest one or two wines for us?)
MMeredith- Recipe: Tio Point Oysters with Sea Foam
10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a television show, others restaurants?
MMeredith- At the moment still want to focus on solidifying Merediths, and would like to move more at Tasting menu concept completely no À La Carte offered. I would also like to start a book soon and maybe another smaller restaurant with a different dinning concept.
RECIPE: Tio Point Oysters with Sea Foam
This simple dish is inspired by the Tio Point oysters that are harvested from the Marlborough Sounds in the South Island. I have re-created the environment of the beach to enhance the memories of eating fresh oysters on the beach.
INGREDIENTS & PROGRESSION RECIPE
-2 Tio Point Oysters
-Pickled cucumber (Compress with purified seawater)
-Graperfruit segments (broken into small pods)
-Sea grapes (limu)
-Sea foam (See the method)
-Bronze fennel fronds
1. Shuck the oysters, clean out any sand but reserve its natural juice, season with cucumber, fennel pollen, grapefruit pods, limu and one spoon of sea foam on top then garnish with bronze fennel fronds.
Method for Sea Foam
-400ml of purified seawater
-200ml of water
-1 teaspoon of fennel pollen
-8 grams soy lecithin
-Infuse water, sea water and pollen overnight, add soy lecithin and use hand blender to create foam.
I collect sand, seaweed, twigs and shrubs I find on the beach to create the environment.
Wine pairing: I suggest Cloudy Bay Pelorus, Methode nv
-Merediths/Chef Michael Meredith
365 Dominion Road
Mt. Eden, Auckland
1. Metro Restaurant of the year (Video)
2. Video(3 parts) on Merediths & Michael Meredith, June 2011
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