Interview with Mark Briggs from The Sharing House
The World Loves Melbourne interviewed Mark Briggs after his big win as The Age Good Food Guide Young Chef of the Year 2012...
So, congratulations Mark on winning Young Chef of the Year.
Mark: Thanks, it was a surprise.
How would you describe the food at The Sharing House? Is The Sharing House a place where you can show technique?
Mark: Yes, this is an exciting path. The food is designed to share small dishes. I am reinventing classics. People order things they are comfortable with and I bring a twist on the classics. I’m classic French trained and went through the molecular revolution at Vue De Monde, so some of that background comes out. I still make jellies and foams and use a water bath. But this is a blank canvas to play with.
There seems to be a “fun” element in your dishes. Is this intended?
Mark: Yes, it’s great when customers are relaxed and comfortable when they are eating. I try to make dishes that bring back memories and make you smile. Food shouldn’t be pretentious. There’s often a stigma that comes with fine dining restaurants. It’s not what Melbourne is all about. People want to enjoy a night out and have some fun.
Who have been your biggest influences?
Mark: The chefs I have worked with in my career. I started in the kitchen by washing the dishes when I was 14 or 15. I worked with an old Italian Chef in the south of England who did everything himself. I learned how to do everything in the process from skinning a deer to dealing with 150kg of snails that just got delivered, making salami and picking wild mushrooms every morning.
How do you compare Melbourne to the great culinary cities of the world?
Mark: Melbourne compares well as a culinary city. It’s still one of the food capitals of the world. Melbourne’s strength is in its diversity of cuisine. No city in the world has as much choice. However, 5 or 6 years ago Melbourne was a top destination for the world’s best chefs. Now many of the top chefs want to go to the USA and in particular New York. This is because Melbourne has become more relaxed in its style. Right now Melbourne is not a destination city for chefs. It’s getting harder to attract the world’s best chefs.
Curious to know, who do you support in the AFL ? EPL?
Mark: Since coming to Melbourne I’ve become a member of North Melbourne in the AFL. There is only one team in the EPL and that is Everton.
Can you comment on the trend towards shared meals?
Mark: Melbourne is such a social city. It’s all about going out to eat with friends. Everyone eats out a lot and often 5 days a week. I see the sharing style as being one step from a family dinner.
How on earth did you think of rabbit and cauliflower popcorn?
Mark: I’ve always liked the combination of rabbit and cauliflower. It was more about the presentation. I served up a sample to Paul Mathis in a paper bag and he reached his hand in and said it was an experience like popcorn at the cinema. It was more about the way it was eaten than setting out to make a kind of popcorn.
Mark: No-one questions what it is – raw meat. I could come up with fancy names but it is raw meat. When people taste it their perceptions can change. If people aren’t comfortable with raw meat they won’t order it. People get it. You have to know a bit about food to order it. This dish sells well.
Any upcoming news for The Sharing House?
Mark: Yes, we will hopefully soon have outdoor dining as well. It will be exciting.
Once again, congratulations Mark on a great achievement. I look forward to returning to The Sharing House.