It wasn't enough for Raph Rashid to simply stuff us full of burgers and tacos at music festivals and on suburban corners. The owner of Beatbox Kitchen, Taco Truck and All Day Donuts has gone and made a cookbook too.
The book, called Hungry For That, sticks to his style: Mexican and American-tinged fast food done really well. The Boss Wings are a great example; chicken smothered in a chipotle barbeque sauce and finished with Danish feta and celery leaf. “They're sort of greasy and fresh at the same time,” Rashid says.
Another favourite is a taco made with store-bought roast chicken. “Pretty much every Australian household I know has picked up a roast chicken and just torn it apart with white bread for dinner,” Rashid says. “I wanted to use that concept, but take it up a notch.” For dessert there's horchata pie flavoured with rice milk and cinnamon, among other recipes.
The book is a riot of colour, with illustrations by Tin & Ed, which frequently collaborates with Rashid's wife, designer Beci Orpin. The same duo also handmade most of the plates the food was photographed on.
We caught up with Rashid to talk us through his background, and how Hungry For That came together.
Broadsheet: How did you get into cooking?
Raph Rashid: I grew up in restaurants. My father had restaurants and my family lived above a Malaysian one in Caulfield, called Irama. The place had a certain energy, and it definitely got in my blood. It was a fun time, but the pressure of that and subsequent businesses – I think they really took a toll. Anyone who's been in food knows these businesses can turn into sponges and they can take as much time as you're prepared to give them, sometimes to your own detriment.
After a while, it kind of broke my family a bit, so my parents got out of the food game. But all my first jobs were always to do with food – my very first was putting the sticks inside toffee apples. Even though my family weren't doing it any more, I was just addicted to it.
BS: There's a lot of Mexican-inspired stuff in the book. What do you like about those flavours?
RR: I like that certain chillies can tweak things a different way. Some are really earthy; the chipotle gets really smoky and gives you a whole other dimension. Or you can just use a quarter of a habanero in a soup and the aroma is just so great, and really hot at the same time. You don't need much at all to give it a little lift. I just love the way you can add a little bit to every dish; burgers, tacos, sauces.
BS: How do you think people will use the book?
RR: I hope if people were having their friends over for a barbeque, they'd use it. Most of the recipes are for a party, they can be scaled-up really easily. When I was making the book, I wanted people to enjoy the food, so I held a couple of parties. One at my house, and one on a rooftop. We went to a lot of effort to make the food. It seemed silly to make it all and not share it with people. I tried to capture their spirit in the book – to encompass how I feel about Melbourne, and reflect my life and what I do.
Hungry For That is available to order at hungryforthat.com, or through major book retailers.