Chris Terlikar loves barbecue. A life changing meal at Brooklyn’s Fette Sau in 2009 sowed the seeds and you can reap the benefit in his 4 month-new Bluebonnet home in Fitzroy North.
Where did this whole food thing come from?
I started at a place in Melbourne that was a bit of an institution back in the day called Bluetrain. I did my apprenticeship there; my first two years and then I moved on to Vue de Monde back when Shannon was just starting out in Carlton. I did a few stints at Circa and France Soir and all that sort of stuff.
Did you always want to be a chef?
I wanted to get out of school. I was working as a kitchenhand after school at a place in Williamstown called Sam’s Boatshed and I loved the culture of hospitality and that sparked the interest. Then I started doing weekends working in cold larder. I left school and started doing my apprenticeship when I was 15 and 9 months. I was ready to go.
When I was 19, I went to Canada and worked at a few places there, then came back to Melbourne, and was working in restaurants. When I was 24, I moved back to Canada and worked at an awesome restaurant where I probably learned the most, called Chambar. It was a Belgian restaurant. Well it was French, but they called it Belgian. I think they wanted a big Belgian beer house. Then I worked on super yachts for about four or five years until I met a girl and moved to New York. I worked at a Michelin star restaurant called Public under a chef called Brad Farmerie, who was a big inspiration to me. I started there as a chef de partie and wthin three months we had bonded and he promoted me to sous chef. I was there for two years.
His influence on you, was that more in terms of his whole practice or his particular use of flavours?
Yeah, his use of flavours and he does crazy things, like blood waffles and stuff like that. He’s pretty out there as a chef. He worked under kiwi chef, Peter Gordon from the Sugar Club in Soho. He trained under him.
Then I came back to Melbourne and was doing fine dining but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. It got boring to me. The whole thing that inspired my shift though was when I was in New York we went to a restaurant called Fette Sau. I was with a mate of mine who was the Sous chef at 11 Madison Park and we both looked at each other and thought what are we doing? We had barbecue and there was so much meat and awesome flavours and I thought, that’s what I want to do. That was in 2009.
So I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to bring that back here. It was a life changing moment and I wanted to learn how to do it properly. I went back to the States and worked for twelve weeks under a couple of guys in Texas; Tom Mickelthwaite and Evan Le Roy and trained under those guys and learned what they did.
What were the key elements you learned from them?
Trimming meat, seasoning it, controlling the fire, all that sort of stuff. Texas bbq is more salt and pepper and smoke.
What makes the perfect brisket?
I guess, for me, we rest ours for 8 hours. Seasoning, bringing it up to temperature, controlling the temperature, they are the major thing. We put ours on around 11 o’clock and it comes off around midnight.
Can Melbourne have too much barbecue?
It can’t have too much good barbecue.
When people come to Bluebonnet, what’s the best way for them to eat your food?
A big group of people and try everything on the menu. Oh and lots of whisky; we have 80 whiskies on our shelf and 10 craft beers on tap.
32 St. Georges Street S, North Fitzroy