By Hilary McNevin
It was October 2017 when chef Adam Baughan was appointed Head Chef of soon-to-open Mr McCracken in Essendon Fields. The UK native, who moved to Australia in 2012, launched the venue to much success. Its consistent popularity and support is indicative of Adam’s consistent commitment to quality produce. This is why we are thrilled to have Adam as this month’s Mount Zero Hero.
“I really like to work in a team,” says Adam, “I love the freedom the venue manager, Jake Wall and I are given to run Mr McCracken and to put our own stamp on it. It’s always great when you have freedom like that.”
Part of the venue’s mission is to focus on Victorian produce, with Mount Zero playing a starring role.
“I’ve been using Mount Zero since I arrived in Australia,” says Adam. “Not only were the products great but I liked the way the business operated, the way they did tastings and really talked about their products. It was obvious there was a lot of care and belief in their products. There still is.”
The first Mount Zero product that Adam discovered was our oils.
“The first product that really got my attention was the mandarin oil,” he says. “It’s just one of those oils that’s so vibrant and I use it for garnishing, on a crudo; our salmon crudo, for example, with fermented chilli. It really makes the dish pop!”
Mr McCracken has Mount Zero Pink Lake salt on all the tables. “I love the way the salt is harvested at Pink Lake that supports and respects country and the local communities. There’s nothing token about how Mount Zero operate, they acknowledge the land we’re on through that harvesting.”
Mount Zero grains have also taken Adam’s attention, so much so, that the recipe he’s shared this month features our farro.
“We’re doing a cumin-confit carrot and grain dish. It’s a nice hearty and warm dish that’s either great as a side or a main salad dish. It’s really filling.”
“Farro, freekeh, the Frantoio olive oil, the split faba beans, I use them all at different times, the quality is great and I like that they’re from the Grampians. It’s so local.”
At home, Adam has a Mount Zero stash as he and his Brazilian partner love having friends over.
“I do the cooking and he does the cleaning. He loves food and we like share-style food. If we have friends over we like to do a communal share-style. Like a big bowl of hummus with harissa on top. It’s a warm inviting dish and it’s easy. It’s a lovely thing to make in a big bowl on a Sunday.”
We could talk all day about flavour ideas and Mount Zero with Adam. He loves to make a lemon olive oil sponge using Mount Zero, he sprinkles dukkah over green beans, he says, “there’s really no limit to what you can do with these products.”
“Mr McCracken is all about letting the products speak for themselves and with Mount Zero, that’s an easy thing to do.”
Thank you Adam, we like to think so too.
1. If you weren't a chef, what would you be doing?
I’m really not sure, I have a passion for animals as well but my dog Dexter is enough! I have been working in kitchens since I was 13 and my parents encouraged me to cook from earlier than that. Mum said I always wanted to know why things tasted the way they did and how things were made from early ages!
2. Last place you dined out?
Well it’s been a while – 2020 really threw a spanner in the works there. The most recent was Grazeland in Spotswood, super casual but a massive array of different foods to try!
3. What's your favourite Melbourne restaurant?
Hmmm wow, now that’s tricky there is so many. I am a big fan of simple food, done well! A great steak house like the Railway Hotel in South Melbourne or even a great breakfast out wins me over. The Glass Den in Coburg is awesome!
4. Favourite season of the year for produce?
I love autumn and winter, truffles are perfect, mushrooms thrive, but I generally find I have a favourite produce in all seasons.
5. Do you have any special projects scheduled for 2021 or beyond?
Currently we are working on some exciting events based out of Mr McCracken, but best to keep an eye on our socials so I don’t spoil too much!