Kitchen spy: Lindsay Jones-Evans

Restaurateur Lindsay Jones-Evans loves the theatre of food. Photo: Pat Scala.

Although he was born in Melbourne, Lindsay Jones-Evans, 56, made an indelible mark on Sydney’s culinary scene in 1996 when he opened Jones the Grocer, in Woollahra. At the time, he was an art director and production designer in television advertising looking for a way off the treadmill.

“I just loved the theatre of food,” he says, relishing putting his design skills to use in retail. He sold out of that business in 2002, but now, after 18 years away, he’s back in Melbourne with a new project. Meatworks, a restaurant catering mostly for carnivores, opened in South Melbourne recently. He lives in an apartment in Port Melbourne with his Chinese wife, Shengnan Ren, and their three-year-old daughter, Ginger.

The staples

My pantry

We use Shanxi three-year-old brown rice and wheat vinegar a lot in sauces for dumplings (a splash of that and soy sauce together is great), Pearl River Bridge dark and light soy sauce for cooking and finishing with, Yeo’s Pure Sesame Oil for dressing and salads, and roasted sesame seeds for garnishing (any roasted nut is delicious). Other regulars include star anise, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and a cotton gauze bandage tied into a ball for making herb and spice infusions.

My fridge

ING sesame paste is delicious with a hotpot (it just sits in your bowl with some aged brown rice vinegar and you dunk your meat and vegetables in it). We always have Asian greens, and Dutch carrots have a lot of flavour and are great to give raw to Ginger. Organic yoghurt is a staple. I have it with my muesli or some fruit in the morning.

Secret vice

Thin-coated Callebaut​ chocolate almonds. There was a place in Sydney called Bon Bon that I used to get them from. I find most other chocolate-coated nuts awful, because the chocolate is usually too thick, sugary and emulsified.

Last home-cooked dinner

A two-hour braised whole chicken with star anise, ginger and soy. We had it with Asian greens and Unigreen Food Yang Chun wheat noodles, which we put into the pot five minutes before it was done.

I’m drinking

We like breaking out the Red Star Chinese spirits with dinner, which are quite strong (43-56 per cent alcohol) and wine. I like a pinot noir from the Mornington Peninsula, New Zealand or the Yarra Valley. I’m also partial to craft beers, like Murray’s from Nelson Bay in NSW and Quiet Deeds, from Port Melbourne.

My toolkit

Instead of chopping garlic, I always use a garlic crush to release all the beautiful flavour, and I have a sushi mat timber rack to ripen my fruit on. The air can travel through and the rack doesn’t actually bruise the fruit. Otherwise, I use a cheap rice cooker and I like to keep a pair of Chinese scissors handy for cutting my bandage infusions and general use.

My inspiration

I love finding hip places – retail stores, restaurants, delis, whatever – in cities I’m visiting. For instance, I was in Japan three years ago for a week with a friend and on the second-last day we finally found the hip area. I love seeing things that are done differently and new.

Favourite

A Chinese chopper and board I bought in Guangzhou 25 years ago. I’ve always loved Communist China stuff and I bought this before I met my wife.

Most unforgettable meal

A massive rump steak with black truffles in a hidden, locals-only bunker in Rome. It was 2010, the steak was cooked to perfection, and the truffles were pungent, unlike anything I’ve ever tasted here.

Recipe stalwart

Slow-cooked pork belly with Asian greens. I chop up the meat, boil it until it changes colour, rinse it in hot water and drain. Then I heat olive oil and sugar in a saucepan, add the pork, then dark soy, light soy and hot water and simmer for two or three hours. The broccolini or bok choy goes in at the end and you serve it on jasmine rice. My father-in-law, Shangkui, taught me the recipe.

Discovery

We toss Wangzhihe​ fermented tofu with pork towards the end of the cooking process to give it a nice sharpness.

Read the story originally published by Fairfax Media here.