Australian two-star Michelin chef Brett Graham has called on his country’s best restaurateurs to promote kangaroo meat and to challenge our lingering aversion to eating “Skippy”.
Graham, based in London’s Notting Hill at his acclaimed The Ledbury restaurant, said kangaroo was the meat of the future and insisted: “Australians should embrace it, not think about it as the coat of arms or a cute little Skippy’’.
“I have just got back from Australia and all the talk is about putting less pressure on our pastures and our land,” he told The Australian. “The grain-fed beef market has to really slow down.
“We consume a huge amount of it. If every sausage on the barbecue had 25 per cent of kangaroo in there, it would make a huge difference about the impact on the land.
“Kangaroo is an amazing meat — it has no antibiotics, no interference with humans except at the end of its life, and it dies the best way I would like to if I was an animal.’’
Mr Graham this week attended launch of the 2018 edition of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in Bilbao, Spain following a hugely successful 2017 edition launch in Melbourne.
The Ledbury was ranked in the 50 Best list for the sixth time last year, at 27th.
The Ledbury is one of only three of the world’s 50 Best in London — the others are The Clove Club, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal — and Graham has just started two wild deer farms to produce locally sourced meat for his restaurant.
One farm is in the lands of the grand Boughton House in Northumberland, owned by the Duke of Buccleuch, and the other at the country house estate of Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire.
All the The Ledbury’s leftover food goes to his allotment to compost for his vegetable plot.
The heat from composting helps keep his greenhouse warm enough to fend off the winter chill and then is used to grow the vegetables.
“We started it two years ago and this season is the first that the vegetables have been grown totally from the leftover food from restaurant patrons,’’ he said.
“I think it will spark a chain reaction and you will see other restaurants doing the same soon.”
Graham grew up in Williamtown, about 170km northeast of Sydney, and moved to London 13 years ago after experience in Sydney’s Bank restaurant.
One year after opening The Ledbury, he achieved a Michelin star and was awarded the second one six years later.
His head chef is another Australian, Greg Austin, who has worked his way up from pastry chef.
Graham said tailoring a warm welcome and approach to customers had been crucial to his success.
“We don’t have a formula — we look to see how (customers) want to be served and work out how to look after them,’’ he said.
“If they are fine and want to be by themselves, we leave them by themselves or some people ask lots of questions and we are then very responsive and customer-focused.” he said.
“If you look after customers, it looks after everything else.’’