Being the owner of Australia’s only fully wood-fuelled restaurant, it comes as no big surprise that Lennox Hastie has a special relationship with fire. Lennox spent his early career working at Michelin Star restaurants across UK, France and Spain. Though he did learn a great deal at these places, he always thought he was losing sight of what he loved the most about cooking - the ingredients. As soon as Lennox reinvented the age-old technique of cooking - pushing the limits of what could be cooked on an open flame - the media found him! He now runs Australia’s only wood-fuelled restaurant, Firedoor. The chef has also appeared on MasterChef Australia’s latest season as a guest chef. Read on to see what he has to say about cooking, grilling and his love for food…
MH Team: What are the health benefits that come with this old, forgotten technique of cooking?
Lennox Hastie: In comparison the other modern methods of cooking, you don’t have to use extra oil, butter when you’re cooking using fire. It’s a traditional form of cooking that is not treated in any way. Apart from that, it also minimises the fat content of the food and adds extra flavour depending on the wood used. Since you’re not using any extra oil or butter to cook in this case, it automatically makes the dish healthier.
Who is the one person in the industry you really look up to or aspire to be like? And why?
Lennox Hastie: More than one specific person, I look at the ingredients being used. My fascination is with food and the ingredients that make it. Whenever I think about chefs, I like to know about their technique of preparing food and the ingredients. I don’t aspire to be like any one person.
Any tips for people who enjoy cooking at home and eating healthy?
Lennox Hastie: Know your ingredients. Don’t follow trends or recipes blindly. Enjoy the process of cooking and know what value each ingredient adds to the dish. There are always a number of food trends making rounds in the market. Try not to give in to them!
Would you like to share any grilling tips with MH readers?
Lennox Hastie: Essentially, grilling is quite simple. But remember to enjoy the process! Don’t instinctively add any additional layers of fat in whatever you’re cooking.
What’s your advice for people who’re looking to take up cooking as a profession?
Lennox Hastie: That’s a really good question! People who’re looking at cooking as a profession need to remember that they need to be passionate about food and cooking. Of course, skills are important. But without passion, your learning comes to a standstill. The desire to cook and the passion to learn is something you can’t teach people. So, remember to be passionate. Everything else will follow!
Tell us about your experience with Indian food.
Lennox Hastie: Unfortunately, there isn’t much Indian food in Australia. But U.K has a lot of Indian restaurants. I have tried Indian food in that respect. When it comes to Indian food, I’m fascinated by the spices! Spices as ingredients and their health benefits are something I’m really intrigued by.
MH readers are very health conscious and like to stay fit. Do you have any special food advice for them?
Lennox Hastie: Just be sensible. Grilling is definitely a very healthy way of preparing food. It minimises the fat content and reduces the amount of oil you consume. But apart from that, proteins, portions and being mindful of what you eat and when are huge factors when it comes to eating healthy. Grilled fish is a great way to up your protein intake in the most healthy way. Knowing the ingredients you’re adding in the dish you’re preparing goes a long way as well.
MasterChef Australia premieres on the 10th of September and will air Monday to Friday at 9 PM.