If the only thing that’s ever frustrated you about Maker was the South Brisbane bar’s sometimes secondary approach to food, you’re not alone.
“There was a customer who came in the other night, the first night I was there, and she told me she’d once brought in her own food, a charcuterie and cheese plate,” Jesse McTavish laughs. “She was so excited that we were doing food.”
McTavish is one of the stars of Melbourne’s cutting-edge cafe scene, having headed up the kitchen for both Top Paddock and The Kettle Black. He’s also friendly with award-winning local restaurateur Jerome Batten, and when Batten heard McTavish was leaving the Kettle Black group, he had an idea. “I’d finished up and wasn’t working, so he asked, ‘Want to come up for Good Food Month?’” McTavish says.
A three-week-long pop-up kitchen is the result. McTavish joins award-winning bartender Ed Quatermass and his team at the tiny bolthole, working with an induction plate, blowtorch and a deep fryer to create a simple menu of dishes such as king prawns on white bread with fermented chilli mayo, live pippis with cured venison, roasted peppers and verjuice, and flank steak, pickled onions, truffle and leek ash. “And, of course, charcuterie and cheese,” McTavish laughs.
Still, this isn’t a first for Maker. McTavish takes over on food duties from Jesse Holohan (now at Gerard’s Bar in Fortitude Valley), and the long-term idea is for different chefs to rotate menus through the venue on an invitational basis. McTavish will be behind the bar until August 14, although he’s tempted by Batten’s entreaties for him to stay longer.
“I love that direct contact with the customer,” he says. “You get to talk people through the menu. Like Ed, you take the wank out of it. You take yourself out of it. I’m not here to feed my ego, I’m here to feed people.”
Jesse McTavish will be cooking his pop-up menu at Maker Tuesday to Sunday from 4pm until August 14.