We all know flowers are beautiful in vases, and we’ve seen them make an appearance in fancy cocktails and on cakes – but have you ever cooked with them?
Florals have been used in a culinary setting throughout history in different ways for taste and medicinal purposes. There are some chefs in Australia who are revolutionising the way we think about florals in a culinary setting. Florals are commonly incorporated in the hospitality scene, whether it be for its flavour purpose or for aesthetic purposes to decorate dishes and the table. In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at 9 contemporary Australian chefs who use edible flowers in unique ways in their creations.
The infamous Quay Restaurant, has a stunning and incredibly creative menu that is curated by the well renowned Peter Gilmore. Gilmore is the executive chef at two of the most exclusive and well known dining destinations in Australia. Gilmore has released three cookbooks in the past 10 years – all of them best sellers! He is acclaimed for his focus on unique natural ingredients; he often let’s the ingredients speak for themselves and has a curious nature in finding new ways to use rare vegetables, fruits and flowers.
Gilmore often utilises the beautiful aesthetic of some flowers in his food to enhance the overall presentation of his dishes. For example, he created one dish as a celebration of the pea, and it included garden peas, sea salt, cultured butter and crisp pea blossoms, which look beautiful and really bring the dish to a new level. Or, who could forget the Celery Heart with Feta, Herbs and Flowers creation: incorporating tiny celery flower sprigs and white edible Linaria flowers, the dish combines the aniseed flavours of the celery, saltiness of the feta and floral qualities of the flowers to create a unique and well balanced dish.
There are a lot of dishes that use some kind of flower or another to give the dish a boost. Many chefs have taken inspiration from the recipes that he has provided the culinary world with. He doesn’t just use florals for one given purpose, he uses them for a range of things at the same time, be it smell, taste, appearance or texture.
Lennox Hastie is a chef from Sydney, Australia. He owns Firedoor, and was recently featured on Netflix Chef’s Table. He is best known for unusual ingredients and cooking methods to produce his food. A lot of the time he doesn’t use electricity or gas to cook the food, and instead opts for an open flame or coals in his cooking. He commonly uses florals and native plant ingredients in his dishes, such as karkala, which is a native type of succulent that often grows near the ocean and has a juicy salt texture.
Hastie also uses French Earl Grey in some of his recipes, which has notes of sunflower, rose petals and Hibiscus. All of these flavours pair well with the fruit that is used in his Grilled Peach Ice Tea recipe. We guarantee you that you haven’t had ice tea quite like this one. The flavours compliment each other well, bringing out the very best in each other.
Hastie also uses florals to decorate some of his dishes, choosing to stick with what he is known for – using ingredients and cooking methods that are close to nature.
Kylie Kwong is an Australian chef, television presenter, author, and restaurateur. Kwong runs the restaurant Billy Kwong and has done so for over 20 years, She is well known for incorporating Australia’s native flora and fauna into her cooking. In fact, in 2020, Kylie Kwong was asked to name her ingredient of the year, and the one she chose was Karkalla, which Kwong chose due to its versatility.
Kwong often uses the Karkalla, often known as beach banana, in her salads to bring a new dimension of flavour to the dishes. The texture of the Karkalla adds a crunch to the salads as well as a little bit of a salty taste. It really highlights the flavours of the other ingredients in the dish as well.
Brent Savage And Nick Hildebrandt
Bentley is a restaurant that was opened back in 2006 by Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt. It is one of the hottest restaurants in town, and these two are known as a dynamic duo in the culinary world. The food at this restaurant is known all throughout the country as food that will challenge you and inspire you all at the same time. The pair also released a book called Bentley: Contemporary Cuisine, which features the use of a lot of florals in the recipes. The flowers chosen are there to help bring something a little different to the dish, combining new flavours that you may never have thought of on your own.
We did mention that Savage and Hildebrandt are known for food that challenges you, and the flower choices they make are no exception. Elderflower is a flavour that is prominent in at least one of their dishes, adding a beautiful new layer to the dish that it is used in. Small amounts of flowers may be used in their dishes, but it makes them no less tasteful and innovative.
You will also find that a lot of the food served here uses brightly coloured flowers for decoration. As such, you can see that they are used in fine dining to create aesthetically pleasing dishes, as well as dishes that taste fantastic. All of the flowers are edible, so you don’t need to pick them off of the dish, you just need to be brave enough to try them.
Forage To Feast Sydney
Forage to Feast is a series of adventures that combine the knowledge of educator and renowned forager Diego Bonetto, and a weed convert, stylist and foodie Marnee Fox. This workshop of sorts teaches you how to identify the food that is growing in your backyard that you can use, as well as in other areas such as along rivers. It will also show you how you can use the edible plants that you find in delicious recipes, creating food that everyone is going to love, with beautiful presentation. Presentation is key to a dish as the first taste anyone ever has of food is with their eyes. If it doesn’t look visually appealing, nobody is going to want to eat it.
This initiative helps people use the ingredients that they find in their backyard, and turns them into something wonderful. This is not your usual fine dining setting, but instead is teaching the average person how to create these dishes in their own home. The knowledge you gain from this can be used for throwing dinner parties and wowing guests, or simply to shake up your weekly cooking.
You may never have thought to include different types of edible flowers and plants in your cooking, and you wouldn’t be alone in that. However, Forage to Feast will show you some fantastic flavours that go well together, creating some of the most delicious dishes you will ever taste.
Jed Gerrard is a chef at Wildflower Restaurant, and has always encouraged the use of flowers in his cooking. The food cooked by Gerrard is heavily inspired by the Noongar calendar and their six seasons. These people are one of the biggest aboroginal cultural groups in Australia, and weather patterns combined with signs of nature give them their seasons. Gerrard studied these people and used his knowledge of this group to influence his cooking. Due to this, a lot of the ingredients he uses can be found on the roadside or in your own backyard.
An example would be that Gerrard uses the leaves of the Geraldton wax shrub in order to add a citrus style flavour to a cream used for one of his dishes. Due to the strict restrictions he has placed on himself as to where he can source his ingredients, he had to get creative, this being one of the things that he came up with. He is also known for using bottlebrush flowers to flavour his desserts. Gerrard does this by infusing a stock with the flower, creating a distinct and exquisite flavour for anyone who tries it.
Aaron Carr is the chef at Yarri Restaurant and Bar. The restaurant is committed to providing good food to all the people who go there, and use their food to celebrate the specialist growers, farmers, and all the other people who provide the produce for this place. Carr is more known for using flowers to decorate his plates than to add flavour to them in some way. He uses other ingredients to lock in the flavours he is looking for, and uses the flowers to make his dishes visually appealing.
It works well, when you see some of the beautiful creations that he makes. All of the flowers are edible of course, and they do add that little extra something to the dish, but their main purpose is to decorate. Wanting to draw the eye of the diners, the flowers are neatly arranged to stand out among the rest of the dishes. The floristry is beautiful, and shows the innovation of chefs like Carr to do something a little different. You can find some of his recipes online if you look around, but he has yet to release a cookbook or anything of the sort.
If you are interested in learning about edible flowers so that you can cook them yourself in the comfort of your own home, then Chefin Sydney is the experience that you need. The Edible Flowers foodie experience is a journey that you go on with chefs who have experience with using flowers and plants to create beautiful dishes. There are a range of chefs that take part in this, and you will have your own professional private chef to cook these dishes for you, showing you how to make them and what ingredients to use.
Some of the dishes include the flowers in them to create interesting flavours, and others just have edible flowers used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the dish. Either way, you will end up with some fantastic tips and tricks as to how you can incorporate flowers into your meals, and some new recipe ideas that you can use when you get home. This is a fantastic experience with some of the best chefs around, helping you to understand that edible flowers can be used in casual dining settings, as well as just fine dining ones.
This one isn’t a singular chef, but is a combination of amazing recipes that include flowers within them. It may be to decorate the dish, or it may be to enhance the flavour, depending on which recipe you are interested in. This website gives you all the information that you need to create delectable dishes using flowers. A lot of people think that if they see flowers on food, it automatically must be a culinary masterpiece or for fine dining purposes. This is not true, but it does show you the power of the aesthetic when it comes to using these edible flowers.
You will find through these recipes that you can make anything look beautiful with the addition of florals. Not only do they give a beautiful exterior, but as we have mentioned before, they also provide a new texture to the dishes that is unusual for some. If you’re not used to eating florals, then it can be difficult to actually get your mind around consuming them for the first time. When you do though, you will see that there is a whole new world of cooking for florals, and the chefs that put together these recipes are geniuses.
Florals make an excellent addition to any meal, as long as you find the right flavour and texture to compliment the other ingredients. It doesn’t even have to be in taste, you can use florals to decorate the table and give it that little something extra,
Now that you understand a little more about the Australian chefs that are revolutionising florals in culinary settings, perhaps you can start looking at using them with your food? It’s always an option to consider at the very least.