It could be said that Carlo Mirarchi helped put Bushwick on the map.
At least internationally, the Brooklyn, NYC neighbourhood has become synonymous with the star chef’s DIY diner Roberta’s. His ramshackle pizzeria and beer garden – which turned 10 in January – went from hip local haunt to heaving tourist hive in a just a few years. It’s even spawned a frozen-pizza line available in US supermarkets.
But Mirarchi won’t be boxed in. After introducing a tasting menu at Roberta’s he decided to go one better and open a separate venue out the back in 2012. The result is Blanca, a small and sparse space – a private room more than a restaurant – with just 12 seats. The leather barstools overlook a large open kitchen that pumps out a 20-course degustation four nights a week. It’s earned the chef two Michelin stars.
The upscale dishes may be more refined but, like Roberta’s, it’s about the beauty of simplicity. Ingredients are minimal and often from the on-site garden. “If you look at it from a distance you see similarities in style and approach,” Mirarchi tells Broadsheet. “Some of the techniques are similar. Definitely, aesthetically, it falls into similar categories.”
Mirarchi is in town for Tasting Australia. He was invited by programming director Jock Zonfrillo, who had a guest stint at Blanca as part of worldwide chef swap Grand Gelinaz Shuffle in 2016.
He arrived on Wednesday and, like any good visiting chef, has already made a stop at Zonfrillo's Orana. “It was amazing,” he says. “I was a little jet lagged but it was super fun. I want to go back.” He’s also been foraging in the Adelaide Hills.
“We got some wild strawberries from the mountains that were really nice. And Jock took us out to this really cool, small orchard that’s 30 minutes outside the city. We got a bunch of plums and citrus and stuff like that.”
Those ingredients will form part of his dish at tonight’s Glasshouse Kitchen dinner, Naturale, which also features chefs Dave Verheul (Melbourne’s Embla), Brent Savage (Sydney’s The Bentley) and Tom Tilbury (Robe’s Gather Food and Wine). Mirarchi’s dish will hero Aylesbury duck from Balhannah, dry aged for 10 days – as he requested – and cooked on a carousel-style fire pit designed by Zonfrillo.
“We made a basting sauce for the duck with the plums and some buckwheat miso,” Mirarchi says. “We smoked some avocados and we’re going to make that into a fine puree. And I think we’re going to make oil with Vietnamese cilantro.
“We’ll let the ingredients do most of the work.”
Each course will be matched with low-intervention wines from Jauma, Vanguardist and Shobbrook Wines.
Naturale is on tonight at 7pm at the Glasshouse Kitchen in Victoria Square. Tickets are still available online.