Dave Pynt knows a thing or two about cooking with flames. The Perth-born chef has made Burnt Ends an essential stop for visitors to Singapore – so much so his temple of modern barbeque made its debut in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2021 – using a simple philosophy that food tastes better when it’s cooked over fire.
“Whenever you speak to diners they say, ‘the food’s delicious, what have you done to it?’ And all we’ve done is cook it over wood,” says the chef, who’ll be cooking in Adelaide for Tasting Australia in early May. “So the only logical explanation is that there’s some sort of magic in cooking over wood that makes food taste really good.”
Pynt was exposed to barbequing from an early age, but he honed his skills while working at one of the best flame-driven restaurants in the world, Asador Etxebarri, in Spain’s Basque country. One crucial lesson he learned is the importance of patience.
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“My biggest tip for cooking on fire at home is to take your time, slow everything down and really just enjoy the process,” he says. “Because if you don’t build that fire base up properly, it’ll make cooking on it an absolute nightmare.”
And if you’re considering taking a shortcut by using charcoal, think again. “Never, never, never, never buy coals – always use wood,” Pynt says. “Even when I cook at home, there’s no charcoal. I hate it because it doesn’t add any flavour.”
Instead, he uses dense wood like jarrah or ironbark as they hold the heat well.
When you’re ready to start the fire, there’s another no-no to avoid. “Never use chemical-based lighter fluid because that will essentially end up in your food. If you want to speed up the process, you can use a butane torch, the kind you’d use to finish a crème brûlée. It’s the fastest, cleanest way to get a fire lit all over.
“And if you start with chunks of wood that are around 30 centimetres long with a diameter of 10 centimetres, you can have coals ready to cook over in 45 minutes.”
Looking for more cooking hacks? Our Kitchen Hacks series is filled with simple ideas to instantly improve your cooking.
Dave Pynt will appear at Adelaide’s Tasting Australia, cooking an Express Lunch of lobster hot dog with fennel, smoked maiko remoulade and crisps on May 6, and preparing a whole kangaroo stuffed with its own slow-roasted tail and cooked on the spit for the Great Shiraz Dinner on May 7.