When Broadsheet caught up with Emma McCaskill earlier this month, she hinted at a new venture unlike anything she’s done before.
We can now reveal her next project is newly minted, two-level brewpub Sparkke at the Whitmore. She’ll take over the pans next week, unleashing a new menu that’ll draw on her Indian heritage and training in high-end kitchens.
Since leaving The Pot (now Nido) seven months ago, the acclaimed chef has been working with Paul Baker at Botanic Gardens Restaurant. Her 15-year career includes stints at Tetsuya’s) (Sydney), Ezard (Melbourne) and Sat Bains (Nottingham, England) before coming home to front Magill Estate Restaurant with her then-husband Scott Huggins. She was the first non-Japanese chef to work at Narisawa in Tokyo, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant and number 22 in the 2018 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Her position at Sparkke is a leap in a new direction. “I’m kind of going more towards my Indian roots,” she told us earlier this month. “I’m starting to cook more share-style food, wholesome and simple but delicious with lots of spice and bigger flavours.”
McCaskill will also work with Sparkke’s head brewer Agi Gajic to learn about beverage fermentation and continue to incorporate Sparkke’s signature use of its brews in the food. While she won’t have the Botanic Gardens’ bounty of produce to choose from, McCaskill will plant beds of herbs and spices in the space around Sparkke’s rooftop bar. And, in addition to working closely with local growers, she’ll tap the Central Market, just around the corner, for fresh local produce.
“This kitchen will be a collaborative space that supports and involves South Australian farmers and producers, whose hard work means we can create clean and balanced flavours, and deliver a special experience to people every day,” she said in a press release.
McCaskill is also working towards a minimal-waste, socially aware kitchen. “We aim to help minimise waste within our network of suppliers ... so if [they have] an abundance of produce, we will try to work together to incorporate it into Sparkke’s menu.
“We also hope to provide some food to people in need within the neighbourhood and we’ll be working to promote sustainable cooking by using the trimmings from our kitchen to make jams and curry bases that we sell on the premises in our bottle shop.”
“This is such a great space to create something special,” she adds. “I can’t wait to be immersed in the [city’s] west end community.”