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5 Secret Ingredients of a Top Chef

Chef Sean Connolly, known for his produce-driven restaurants in Australia and New Zealand, shares his seasoning secrets.

Published on Dec 18, 2015

can’t get enough of celebrity chef Sean Connolly’s bold, earthy style. He calls himself a “purveyor of damn fine food,” and the critics agree: kitchens he’s helmed have pulled in a total of three Chef Hats, the Aussie equivalent of Michelin Stars, and his five restaurants spread across Sydney, Adelaide and Auckland are always packed. He’s even the host of his own TV show, Sean’s Kitchen. Yet, his food philosophy is refreshingly minimalist.

After 15 years prepping molecular dishes at Sydney’s perpetually hatted Astral (The Grill by Sean Connolly in Auckland is his other ever-awarded eatery), Connolly decided he was fed up with foam and wanted to pursue a more produce-driven approach. The result: meat on the bone or in the shell, charred or grilled, and served with fresh seasonal harvests. “This is what real food is all about,” he says. “The older I get, the simpler my food gets.” Connolly’s latest opening, Sean’s Kitchen in Adelaide, holds a collection of his favorite recipes, including “grandma’s carrots,” a salty sweet fuss-free tribute to his late granny. “I let my produce speak for itself,” he says. Still, humble is by no means predictable. Connolly experimented with a Japanese-inspired take on Gallic fare, which he served in Bangkok at the World Gourmet Festival in September 2015. —MONSICHA HOONSUWAN


Why: “It adds richness to sauces.”
The Dish: Choice of steak mix-and-matched with compound butters and sauces.
Restaurant: The Grill by Sean Connolly.


Why: “It gives a wonderful sweetmeat flavor to my potatoes.”
The Dish: Duck-fat chips with house-made tomato sauce.
Restaurant: Parlour Burger.



Why: “Everything needs salt. If you use the right salt, it’s gentle and not too strong, and when you add it to the food it brings out the best flavors.”
The Dish: Scampi ceviche.
Restaurant: The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room.




Why: I love the sweet and savory licorice flavor. It’s very versatile and gives a depth to your dish.”
The Dish: SA lamb shoulder.
Restaurant: Sean’s Kitchen.




Why: “I use it as a background flavor to give a nice gentle burn, subtle and well-rounded.” 
The Dish: Spaghetti with Cloudy Bay clams and chili flakes.
Restaurant: Gusto at the Grand.




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