Renowned chef John Hart talks to us about how technology and food collide in the heart of the NSW Outback.
“Technology in the kitchen is something I’m passionate about. As the head chef at the Railway Hotel in Broken Hill my ultimate goal is absolute consistency in our meals, and to do that we needed to embrace the latest in cooking technology.
We use ‘Sousvide’, a low temperature cooking system that has revolutionized cooking around the world. It’s embraced by top chefs like Heston Blumingthal and Gordon Ramsay, and the top restaurants in the world use it – but we’re the only ones in Broken Hill. It’s computer controlled and has completely streamlined our kitchen so we can cook more meals in less time and have them be perfectly consistent no matter who is cooking. For me, that’s the key to success in a restaurant and is has been great for business.
I have a commercial grade kitchen in my house and together with my friend, renowned photographer Robyn Sellick, I produce an online cooking show called Hart of the Kitchen. Robyn comes around and sets up basic lighting, then we shoot the show after a few red wines on an idiot-proof point and shoot Sony mirrorless camera. I then edit it myself using Apple’s standard editing suite, something I taught myself to do, and upload it to our YouTube channel each week. You don’t need a load of fancy equipment to make something people will love.
The idea for the show came about in response to popular TV cooking shows, which I hate. I think they’ve ruined home dinner parties, made people feel inadequate and given them unrealistic expectations – people are scared to cook because they think they can’t do it as well. So we wanted to create something unpretentious, showing people how to make simple, affordable meals out of ingredients they can find quickly after work at the supermarket.
I’ve found the recipes people like most are the unpretentious classics that nan used to make – my partner’s gran has been an invaluable source of material to that end. I take the recipe, modernize it a little and away we go. In that sense, digital technology is bringing back old-fashioned favourites that had been lost in history. These are the videos that get the most views, and we use that feedback to craft the direction of the show.”