Five minutes with Chef Travis Crane

What’s the food philosophy for City Winery?

Our food philosophy at City Winery Brisbane is to the source the best quality produce as locally as possible, prepare it respectfully and cook it simply over wood fire. This will mean working towards sourcing everything that we serve from small scale organic or chemical free farms, serving ethical meat choices such as grass fed beef, free range pork, heritage breed poultry and utilising animals that most people and chefs won’t, such as retired dairy cows and mutton.

As much as possible will be made on site from bread, cultured cream, yoghurt and butter to cured meats, vinegars, pickles and ferments. We would be doing as much of our own butchery on site as possible, with the menu constantly evolving as we work our way through the different cuts.

Our menus will always be produce driven, with dishes being developed from what our farmers have available for us, rather than conceiving a dish and then trying to find the produce to make it. The farmer will tell us what they have available and we ask ourselves, “What is the most delicious way that we can prepare this ingredient?” This style of menu development forces us as chefs to constantly be creating new ideas and developing new techniques, in turn ensuring the experience for the customer is always fresh and exciting.

Where do you draw inspiration?

I get most inspired while visiting farms and talking to my producers. Seeing the hard work, love and perseverance that goes into growing the stunning produce that we are lucky enough to serve is a constant inspiration.

What are you most excited about?

The opportunity to be a part of such a unique project as City Winery Brisbane and to work alongside a great mix of enthusiastic and dedicated professionals. And teaching myself to cook again using the one of a kind brick hearth that I have designed.

Cooking over fire will be a feature of the Kitchen at City Winery Brisbane

Explain the cuisine and your style?

Simple, honest and delicious food, prepared respectfully and presented beautifully. We don’t pin ourselves to a particular cuisine or style, but rather draw from the different experiences and cultures of everyone in our team. We are constantly experimenting with different techniques both old and new, always keeping an open and inquisitive mind in the kitchen.

Inviting dinner prepared by Chef Travis Crane

How important is paddock to plate?

Paddock to plate is a term that is thrown around quite loosely these days, however the idea of working directly with producers is hugely important. Not only does this benefit the producer who is able to get a fair price for their produce by eliminating middle men, but it also gives chefs and consumers access to produce that would otherwise be unavailable through wholesalers. There is simply no comparison between produce coming of a small scale, chemical free farm, picked and delivered to the restaurant door and the mass produced fruit and vegetables coming out of the wholesale markets.

How will you integrate fire into the cuisine?

The kitchen will be centred around a four metre brick hearth with height adjustable grills, burning local hardwood. Almost everything on the menu will come into contact with the fire at some point, from smoked butter with the bread to coal grilled pork racks, mutton necks buried in embers and fruit blackened for sorbets and ice-creams. We will utilise the fire in many different ways from burning fruit in the flames to grilling over coals, hanging whole legs hearth to cooking in camp ovens.

If you weren’t a chef what would you be?

As I have cooked since I was very young (all of the family meals since I was 10) I have always known that I wanted to cook. However having always had a mind for science and a love for nature, during high school I strongly considered pursuing environmental science.