As the ambassador for the national awards program, Electrolux Appetite for Excellence, I get to do some pretty cool things, to support our upcoming young professionals within the hospitality industry. Like hanging out this afternoon in the Virgin Australia Sydney Lounge even though I wasn’t flying anywhere. I was there to support the 2008 Appetite for Excellence winner Jake Nicolson (now head chef at Circa, the Prince) in a cooking demonstration for Virgin passengers and joined program director Phee Gardner, one of last year’s finalists Ellen Fletcher, and one of this year’s finalists Christopher Rose.
Passengers were given a taste treat of the recipe: Moroccan beef, chickpea salad + honey and cumin yoghurt. The first passenger to try it today was Peter Dunn who lives in Melbourne and travels every week on Virgin Australia. What did he think of it? “Very nice. Loved the beef and the sauce” he said as he grabbed a recipe card. The recipe cards were provided to all passengers today with a gift pack of Luke Mangan’s spices. Jake Nicolson’s recipe was easily adapted for vegetarians. Max Desai travels every second week on Virgin Australia from Melbourne and was able to enjoy the dish in the airport lounge (minus the beef.)
Here’s Chef Jake Nicolson’s recipe for you to make at home:
Moroccan beef, chickpea salad + honey and cumin yoghurt
400g beef fillet
50g Luke Mangan’s Moroccan spice
2 eschallots (sliced)
2 long red chillies (finely chopped)
250g yellow or red cherry tomatoes (halved)
1/2 bunch fresh mint (chopped)
1/2 bunch green basil (finely torn)
2 lemons (juiced)
1/2 bunch coriander (garnish)
100ml sheep’s milk yoghurt (or good thick naturaly yoghurt)
10g cumin powder (lightly toasted)
Preheat an oven to 160C. Meanwhile heat a little olive oil in a pan on the stove.
Generously dust the beef fillet with Luke Mangan’s Moroccan spice. Place in the pan and gently sear on all sides until nice and golden. Place the beef in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until cooked to your preference. Remove, set aside to rest until required.
In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, eschallots, chilli, tomatoes, mint and basil. Dress with lemon juice and 100ml of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In another bowl, whisk the honey and the cumin through the yoghurt and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve: place a small amount of the chickpea salad in a bowl, thinly slice the Moroccan beef fillet and arrange over the top of the salad. Finish with a generous dollop of the honey and cumin yoghurt and coriander leaves.
Chef Jake Nicolson
Head Chef, Circa, the Prince
At just 33, Jake has been cooking professionally for 17 years. Working under world renowned chefs such as Alla Wolf Tasker, and two Michelin star chef, Brett Graham at The Ledbury, Jake was crowned 2008 ‘Electrolux Australian Young Chef’ of the year. He has been working at Circa, the Prince for five years where he has been the head chef since 2010.
Jake’s core food philosophy stems from a young age where he learnt to appreciate the value that food has in bringing family and friends together around the dinner table. He believes that food is about understanding the importance of utilising seasonal produce to create dishes that can be enjoyed by everyone. Cooking overall should be fun and approachable, as it is the perfect way to bring people together.
Circa, the Prince
2 Acland Street, St Kilda Victoria 3182
+61 3 9536 1122