Studies show that being a chef is one of the most stressful jobs you could possibly have. Those researchers have clearly never come across Kane Pollard, Executive Chef of Topiary, in the Adelaide foothills. In a fast paced world of instant gratification, this unique eatery is a long slow exhale where the menu is dictated by the seasons and whatever can be foraged in the immediate vicinity.
“We start at 8am, wandering through the paths close to the restaurant, looking for the garnishes for the day,” says Kane. “On my way down to work, I’ll stop if I see anything from a wild fig tree, to fennel. If it’s mushroom season, I’ll forage through the forest for anything promising.”
This has obvious flow ons to the dishes that come from the kitchens back at Topiary. “We just try to use everything that is around us. With the foraging, and the fact that we are located in a nursery, it is pretty easy to keep your finger on the pulse of the seasons.”
The physical building itself is consistent with this old world sustainable production of food. The 140 year old cottage still has the original French windows and doors. The ceiling itself is part hay bale and part glasshouse, so it feels very much like you are in touch with the natural world around you. “Everywhere you look, it’s just green,” he says, with a smile on his face.
For the last eleven years, Kane has been foraging, and preparing his own cheeses and cultured butters to meet the demand of an ever growing population of diners who want to tap into a more natural organic way of eating. “I love to take an under-utlised species of fish and make something beautiful with it,” he says. “Then, I’ll come out and explain that it was carp, and most people are blown away by the flavour and the artistry of how it is plated. They’re looking to be challenged and pushed.”
With this in mind, the partnership between Kane and OneFishTwoFish makes perfect sense. “I’ve spent a lot of time in kitchens, I’ve seen how much can go to waste,” says Kane. “But when dealt with in the right manner, seafood and vegetables are the two most sustainable food groups. I would quite happily run a restaurant with nothing else.”
For Kane, you either have to take a stand based on your principles, or do your best to ignore the obvious moral quandary that comes with eating seafood. Given the ethos of his entire business, it isn’t difficult to anticipate which choice he will make. “Over the years, I’ve been told the easiest way to do it would be exactly what OneFishTwoFish is about: We can’t take more than we can put back,” he says. “If we can be producing more fish than we are taking, we gain control and make sure the fish stocks are well supplied into the future.”
OneFishTwoFish is proud to welcome Kane Pollard as Ambassador Chef in its commitment to sustainability in all of its forms.
If you ever find yourself near the Adelaide foothills, go and check out Kane’s cuisine at Topiary. It will be like nothing you’ve ever seen before…