Where Chefs Eat: Josh Cooke of Rozelle’s and Chianti

<p>Josh Cooke</p>
Josh Cooke ·Photo: Courtesy of Josh Cooke
<p>Hey Jupiter</p>
Hey Jupiter ·Photo: Meaghan Coles
<p>Hey Jupiter</p>
Hey Jupiter ·Photo: Meaghan Coles
<p>Muni</p>
Hey Jupiter ·Photo: Meaghan Coles
<p>Muni</p>
Hey Jupiter ·Photo: Meaghan Coles
<p>Muni</p>
Hey Jupiter ·Photo: Meaghan Coles
<p>Rozelle's</p>
Hey Jupiter ·Photo: Meaghan Coles
<p>Rozelle's</p>
Hey Jupiter ·Photo: Meaghan Coles
<p>Restaurant Botanic</p>
Hey Jupiter ·Photo: Meaghan Coles
<p>Restaurant Botanic</p>
Hey Jupiter ·Photo: Meaghan Coles
<p>Restaurant Botanic</p>
Hey Jupiter ·Photo: Meaghan Coles
The British-born chef Josh Cooke has cooked at many of Australia’s most notable diners, but when he’s not behind the pass you’ll find him at an eclectic mix of local diners.

Josh Cooke (how’s that for nominative determinism?) has been interested in cooking from a young age. Despite being born in Sheffield in the UK, Cooke fell in love with hospo in the States after spending summers at his uncle’s fine-dining restaurant in Maine. His family moved to Cornwall, and the bucolic surroundings helped him develop a real appreciation for produce and the seasonality of agriculture.

Cooke’s first job was filling room-service orders and making scones and finger sandwiches for high tea at Hotel Tresanton. He was an apprentice at Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant before he moved to Paris to cook under chef Jean-Francois Piege. He later had placements with Heston Blumenthal at the experimental diner Fat Duck.

His relationship with Rick Stein eventually brought him to Australia, where he spent time on the pans at Bannisters and worked as a development chef. He went on to cook at Peter Gilmore’s Sydney Harbourfront gem Quay.

Cooke spent four years at Orana, working alongside the late Jock Zonfrillo as the venue’s head chef. His heart is now well and truly in South Australia, where he works as the executive chef for the Favaro Group which includes Chianti and Rozelle’s.

When he’s not on the pans, he’s picking up a laksa, downing yum cha with a bottle of champagne, or sourcing the best seafood SA has to offer.

What’s your go-to for a quick takeaway?
Asian Gourmet from the Adelaide Central Market. Their Sarawak laksa, whenever it’s available, is an absolute must-try. It’s a delicious broth that is layered with roasted spices. I always look forward to this one.

And for a drink and snacks?
Hey Jupiter. It reminds me of my days working in Paris. It’s the perfect spot for enjoying snacks at any time of the day. In the morning, I usually grab a coffee and a croque monsieur. In the afternoon, a nice glass of white burgundy with some frites is my go-to. In the evenings, it’s a glass of champagne with oysters, saucisson sec, and beef tartare.

And what about the best food close to where you live?
Lockwood General is my go-to spot for a great breakfast near home. My wife and I love heading here before heading into the kitchen. It serves up great coffee in a welcoming atmosphere. My favourite dish has to be the king prawns with chilli scrambled eggs.

If it’s a special occasion, where are you headed?
If it’s a special occasion, I am heading to Muni. The service is always great, making anybody feel welcome without being intrusive, and the food is amazing. There’s a fantastic selection of seafood.

Who do you think does the best coffee in town?
Dayjob is my go-to coffee spot, especially if I am moving around the city. If I’m feeling peckish, I grab one of their brekkie rolls – simple and delightful.

How about a meal with a big group of family or friends?
For a meal with a group of friends or family, Vietnam Restaurant on Addison Road. Linda and her team have a way of making everyone feel like part of their family, so it only makes sense to bring your own family there. The menu is perfectly suited for sharing, making it ideal for large gatherings. My must-order dish is their warm seafood salad, it’s absolutely fabulous and always a hit with everyone at the table.

What’s your favourite dish on the menu at Chianti?
My favourite dish at our restaurant is the seafood fregola with tomato, chilli and lemon. It takes me back to my family holidays where we would stay with my grandparents’ friends that lived in Sardinia. Serbestianu would take us out on his boat catching fish, and then his wife Rosa would cook the fish in a dish very similar to this. It’s a great way to relive a memory using some of the best seafood in the world from South Australian waters.

Is there a hidden gem that you think is underrated but great?
Little Rickshaw is definitely an underrated spot.

What’s your go-to hangover feed?
Yum cha with a bottle of champagne. It’s a great way to debrief from the night that was. There are so many great spots around Adelaide for yum cha, but my go-tos are either Chef Dom or Star House.

Tell us about a local producer you can’t stop thinking about?
Sheoak Baker. Gabby and the team know how to make amazing sourdough bread and some delicious pastries that we actually use at Rozelle’s. Gabby mills the flour she uses herself and she gets the grain from her parents’ farm. She’s a real unsung hero in my eyes.

Where would you take someone you’re looking to impress?
Restaurant Botanic. This is the place for native ingredients. I always have relatives and friends visiting from Europe who are super interested in the work that I did at Orana. Justin [James] and his team’s cooking and service can stand high and proud on the world’s table.

What’s your favourite spot for a late-night feed?
Plus 82 Pocha Korean Restaurant: fun times, amazing atmosphere, free-flowing soju and incredible Korean fried chicken. What more can you ask for?

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