Dark Mofos

Bistro Dom’s Duncan Welgemoed and two Sydney chefs, Jared Ingersoll and Alex Herbert, were in Hobart recently for the Dark Mofo Winter Feast – another brainchild of David Walsh. The three chefs travelled to Tassie to cook for the masses. Here are their stories.

Bistro Dom’s Duncan Welgemoed and two Sydney chefs, Jared Ingersoll and Alex Herbert, were in Hobart recently for the Dark Mofo Winter Feast – another brainchild of David Walsh. The three chefs travelled to Tassie to cook for the masses. Here are their stories. Duncan Welgemoed (Bistro Dom, The Happy Motel) Take one-part fire, two parts debauchery, a fistful of winter produce and a sprinkling of dark arts, spin it in on high inside a Ferris wheel of death and cook gently in front of a flaming bookshelf. That’s pretty much how we spent our Dark Mofo weekend. The event showcased what’s good about the winter solstice: feasting, the promise of nudity, dancing, whiskey (I know it has nothing to do with the solstice) and a community getting close around a fire. Still a tourist in this country, I noticed that Tasmanians are friendlier versions of mainland Aussies. Even the usual Saturday night wino helped me find my way to a whiskey bar and made sure he vomited far enough away from me as to avoid me smelling the sick. Good man. The biggest eye opener, however, was the fact that Tasmania’s art, food, and booze scene is cementing a new identity within Australia, kind of like South Australia but colder. David Walsh is an obvious driving force and the passion he has is incredibly infectious. How does one man pretty much gain the hearts and minds of an entire state? The answer, some might say, is a mixture of money, honesty, lateral thinking and a penchant for doing what he wants. I applaud anyone who gives the middle finger to the establishment, has a glass of wine and programs the shit out of a festival to make it one of the most talked about events of the year. In South Australia, we should be more concerned about the overall experience instead of the bureaucracy attached. Cooking with three of my friends, in an environment solely built on creating a feast for the senses, was something we can all take away. It’s not about corporate sponsorship, it’s not about the bottom line, it’s about the community having a cracking time. @GastroPunkOz Jared Ingersoll (Food for People) When I was 11, I followed my mum to work and I stepped into my first commercial kitchen, an army mess in Trentham, New Zealand. It was huge. Everything in that space was loud, hot and noisy with massive knives and fire everywhere. It blew me away. From that day, all I wanted to do was be in a kitchen. The next most important moment in my life was cooking for the first time. I found a recipe for a dish called beggar’s chicken, a Chinese dish that required a chicken to be cooked in a salt crust with soy and spices. My family thought I was mental, I didn’t care. The recipe looked complicated but it gave me a sense of purpose that comforted me. Hours later, the final result was a hard clay that, when cracked, allowed the most delicious aroma to fill the house; everyone was instantly happy and hungry. The satisfied looks on their faces when they ate the soft, sweet and salty chicken filled my heart with joy. I was 12, awkward, lonely and living in a council estate with not much to my name but now I had a purpose – to satisfy others with my cooking. That feeling has never left me. My career has been full and rewarding, it has delivered me much pleasure and bucket loads of heartache and stress. In the beginning it was about the kitchen and learning skills and techniques, but as I developed I realised that I was but a small part of the equation and that led me to my fascination and love of the ingredients, the farmers, the seasons and the environment. When asked to be a part of Dark Mofo, I dropped everything to do it. I was overjoyed when the final line-up was announced – Duncan, Alex and myself. Three unique chefs who see food differently but share a love of nature, food and satisfying the customer. Three brave cooks, who are not intimidated by flame and smoke, rather thrive in the face of something as deliciously enormous as cooking at Dark Mofo. Three citizens who embrace hedonistic pursuits with grounded humility! Thirty years after that beggar’s chicken I felt I had a purpose – to satisfy others with my cooking. @JaredIngersoll Alex Herbert (ex-Bird Cow Fish) I have known Jared Ingersoll for many years but before this year had only collaborated on a cooking gig twice before, both back in 2009. Jared was one of the chefs I cajoled into participating in the SIFF BBQ to cook alongside Fergus Henderson. The other was a collaborative dinner for Carlo Petrini from Slow Food at my then restaurant, Bird Cow Fish, in Surry Hills. I first came across Duncan on Twitter. He caught my attention with his bravado. Since then, we have increasingly crossed paths on a personal and professional level. Our food styles are different but we share a love of great produce and having a good time while we play with it. Earlier this year we came together for the first time. Jared and I cooked a dinner together at the Adelaide Festival’s Lola’s Pergola. Needless to say, we all got along quite famously. When the invitation to cook at Dark Mofo popped up in my inbox, it was a no brainer. We were asked to each cook a dish of our choice over three nights for the Winter Feast, as part of the Winter Solstice celebrations. We were just three of many chefs, cooks and producers who embraced the bounty of Tasmania’s produce and reveled in feeding the many people who wanted to come together to play, listen talk, sing and dance. There are festivals and then there are festivals. Winter Feast at Dark Mofo is one of those that truly lived up to and beyond its expectation on every level. It was a celebration of all the senses: acoustic, aromatic, visual and emotionally uplifting. It was the essence of how I came to love sharing and cooking food with other people. @birdcowfish darkmofo.net.au

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