It is recently reported that three-Michelin-starred Nordic restaurant Maaemo is coming to Sydney. The fine-dining menu will include deer heart biltong, among other Nordic delicacies. Maaemo is the latest, setting up at Berowra Waters Inn for a good time, not a long time – just two nights.
You want to be quick if you want to nab a table for the three Michelin-starred Norwegian restaurant’s $400 a head menu on July 15-16. Berowra Waters Inn owner-chef Brian Geraghty has been friends with Maaemo’s executive chef, Jay Boyle, for 14 years and thought this would be “fun.”
“It would be way easier to do this for longer (than a weekend). What we are attempting to do is turn a beautiful two-hatted restaurant into a three Michelin-starred restaurant. There have been a few problematic issues,” he says, “And there’s no road to our restaurant. I’m not sure if we are adventurous or stupid. I’m leaning towards the latter.
“Jay is one of the very few Australian chefs that run a three Michelin star kitchen. We just decided it was a great time to put our restaurants together, come together in the kitchen and share experiences and stories over a few days. “There’s a synergy about the two, we deal in remoteness and they deal in an old, remote style of Scandinavian cooking.”
One of Geraghty’s issues was sourcing a deer heart. “I was calling suppliers and they were like, ‘‘What satanic ritual are you trying to pull off?” he says. The heart, which will be turned into biltong, is to replace reindeer heart in a Maaemo dish of congee with smoked reindeer heart and black vinegar.
“It’s a very small element of a dish and I definitely think that’s going to be the most experimental aspect of the menu for Australian palettes, everything else brings itself back to flavours diners are familiar with,” he says. “I believe we have to take care of two deer. A very good friend of mine and chef, John Ralley is an avid shooter and is hunting deer for us as we speak. Wild dear are actually a pest around regional NSW and Victoria.”
Geraghty is familiar with Scandinavian cuisine, his partner is Swedish and they would travel there every summer pre-Covid. “I love the cleanliness of its flavours,” he says.
“I love the fact that when you look at the abundance of natural produce that they have – berries, mushroom and horseradish that grow wild on the side of the road – they’re flavours that we are familiar with.” Unlike other big-name residencies, such as Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur and Simon Rogan of L’Enclume, Maaemo won’t bring its kitchen team over. It’s just Boyle in the kitchen with Geraghty and his team – essentially two mates coming together over a few services.
“Australia is peppered with former Maaemo staff, a few people will be taking holidays from Oncore to come and help out. We’re bringing the band back together,” Geraghty says.
Geraghty says it wasn’t a hard sell getting Boyle to cook back home and he understands why Michelin-starred chefs are making the trek to the other side of the world to cook for Australian diners.
“I think there’s a great base culture of fine dining within Australia,” he says. “When it comes to Australia’s narrative of food, we position ourselves in this multicultural situation where we can’t put our finger on what Australian food is. Whether you’re a chef from Norway or Britain, you want to experience that.”