Chef vs. Public BBQ: The Summertown Aristologist

August 15, 2022

Words: Johnny von Einem

Pictures: Andre Castellucci

The Summertown Aristologist chefs Tom Campbell and Ethan Eadie know the secret to a good barbecue is proper preparation.

Tom Campbell and Ethan Eadie meet CityMag at Murlawirrapurka Rymill Park late on a Wednesday afternoon, carrying a stack of plastic containers.

We’ve invited the duo away from the warm hearth of The Summertown Aristologist and into a brisk wind in the Adelaide Park Lands  to cook in front of an electric grill.

The picture we had in our minds was of two chefs approaching from across the undulating park, each carrying an abundantly stacked box of produce foraged from the restaurant’s adjunct garden, perhaps some golden afternoon light caressing the green tops of the just-harvested beetroots.

But Tom and Ethan know better than we. The secret to preventing poor performance at a public barbecue, as they’ve shown, is to prep properly in advance.

Inside the plastic containers, the chefs have brought pre-roasted beetroot, sourced from the Aristologist’s garden; a burnt bread sauce, made from the restaurant’s leftover loaves; and some fermented tomato pulp, made from passata scraps.

There is some putting together of sauce in a pan (which does achieve a simmer, not quite a low boil), and the nannygai wings are cooked to the chefs’ liking.

The time spent cooking at the hotplate totals not much more than 15 minutes. All the more time for us to get to know each other.

Tom and Ethan discovered a shared ethos while working together at Africola some years ago.

“Ethan was the bin Nazi at Africola. He was like, ‘Recycle! Compost!’,” Tom says.

“That’s totally what I agree with as well, and what the Aristologist is all about – sustainability. Trying to do stuff properly, and with an environmental conscience as well.”

Tom was living and working in London when he was offered the job at the Aristologist. He decided the time was right to come back home, but he wanted a like mind in the Adelaide Hills kitchen with him. He called Ethan, who was then working in Guadalajara but agreed to come back to Australia to help out.

For Tom, working at the Aristologist was a long-held dream. He’d worked some part-time shifts there under its founding chefs, Brianna Smith and Oliver Edwards, and was taken with the restaurant’s ethics and proximity to produce.

“It was such a romantic idea. It was kind of like, ‘Oh, they just have it so easy. That is the dream up there… You get to go and harvest your vegetables, and it’s all so airy-fairy and so great’,” he says. “And then the reality of it. Man.”

The success of The Summertown Aristologist also comes down to preparation –not only within the kitchen.

Alongside their gardening team, Tom and Ethan put in extra hours caring for the produce, watching it painstakingly push through the earth.

Working in this way has offered a new perspective to the duo.

“I always like to think of, what does that mean in the terms of something being a luxury product that’s hard to come by?” Ethan says.

“Everyone talks of their caviars and their really expensive things… It’s like, yeah, they’re really expensive, but this carrot is one of 50, and it took like six months to grow, and it’s so fucking precious to us because there’s so few of them.

“Is that more of a luxury product? Does it matter more? Maybe it does.”

By the shoot’s end, the afternoon light has shifted slightly west, now filtering through the tall poplar trees onto the park table we’ve set up on.

The Murlawirrapurka ducks have soldiered across the path to gather on the lawn out front of the Quentin Kenihan Playspace.

We’ve popped the cork on a bottle of Comme Ci Comme Ća rosé the chefs generously brought down for the occasion.

It’s now we begin to see what Ethan sees.

Luxury is a mindset.

Beet skewers with burnt bread sauce

—400g bread scraps
—4 large beetroots
—1 tbs Dijon mustard
—2 tbs gochugang
—4 cloves roasted garlic
—500ml vegetable stock
—100ml rice bran oil
—3 tbs lightly browned butter
—Sherry vinegar
—Fennel flowers

*Roast beetroot and make burnt bread sauce before heading to the barbecue

1. Heat oven to 190°C.

2. Place bread scraps on a tray and roast till burnt, cool, then use a food processor to blitz into a fine powder.

3. Toss beetroots in olive oil and roast in a tray wrapped in foil until tender. Test by poking with a skewer.

4. Allow to cool slightly, then peel outer skin off while still hot.

5. Cut into bite size chunks then place on skewers. Lightly season with salt.

6. Combine mustard, gochujang, garlic and vegetable stock in a food processor until smooth.

7. Slowly add burnt bread powder.

8. Add oil slowly to emulsify. If it feels a bit thick, add a touch of vegetable stock.

9. Season with Tabasco, sherry vinegar and salt.

10. Gently grill skewers, lightly basting with burnt butter.

11. Serve alongside burnt bread sauce, with fennel flowers to garnish.


Line caught nannygai wings with fermented tomato

—150g fine salt
—2l warm water
—8 nannygai wings, scales removed
—1 brown onion
—2 cloves garlic
—400ml white wine
—200g fermented tomato pulp (or 100g tomato paste)
—100ml reduced fish stock
—150g butter, cubed
—Fresh or fermented chilli to taste

*Begin preparations one day prior

1. Dissolve 150g fine salt in 2l warm water. Let cool in the fridge. Once cold, add cleaned nannygai wings and leave overnight. Remove from brine and pat dry.

2. Sweat finely chopped onion and garlic in a pan until sweet and translucent. Add wine and reduce by half. Add fermented tomato pulp (or tomato paste) and reduced fish stock. Slowly add cubed butter while constantly mixing. Season to taste with fermented chilli, salt and sumac.

3. Grill wings skin side down until nicely coloured. Flip and cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat and rest.

4. Plate and finish with sauce.


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