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Old Brewery site in 2007 and he was given the
challenging task of overseeing the entire operation.
“At that time, it was about to close its doors,”
he recalls, “so we knew it needed a lot of work,
and our focus was to change the concept
completely. We did some market research and
decided that Perth was crying out for a really
good steakhouse. But I wanted a steakhouse
with seriously good meat, seriously good wine
and seriously good ser vice.”
So he went to the US, renowned for its
steakhouses, to g et some ideas.
It was over in the US that he first conceived
of his tomahawk steak, a huge 1.2 to 2.7kg wagyu
scotch fillet on the bone. Carved at the table, it
ser ves two people or more.
Unlike normal rib eye, it includes the intercostal
meat on the bone, Greg says. This meat is usually
exported to Asian countries, where it fetches a high
price, “but we leave all that on the bone so you g et
all those crispy bits, the ones that everybody loves,
as you would with a roast”.
Alongside the classic steakhouse menu, The
Old Brewery also offers degustation dinners, which
include fish, pork, duck and lamb dishes plus black
angus cuts, dry-aged in-house for 28 days, and
delicious grain-fed wag yu.
The dining room has the upmarket, eleg ant
feel of a fine-dining establishment. With its
sweeping river views, chocolate-grey coloured
carpets, comfortable leather chairs, white linen
napery and red lanterns, it’s that stylish yet
inviting kind of place that begs long leisurely
lunches and even longer dinners – and that’s just
the way Greg intends it to be. “Food, like cooking,
is just not about rushing,” he says.
He is justifiably proud of the variety and quality
of steaks and meat on his regular menu and can
cite you chapter and verse on the 13 different cuts
ser ved, as well as the best way of cooking them.
But then there are the daily specials, his
spontaneous responses to seasonal produce and
the vag aries of the weather. “I look outside, and
think yeah, this or that dish is fairly warranted on
a day like today,” he says.
He’s as pedantic about the sauces as he is
about the cut of meat. “I think sauce is there to
complement meat, not destroy it.”
This dates back to his Auckland childhood,
when, even as a 10-year-old boy, riding home from
school, he could smell roast mutton as he rounded
the corner of the street.
“It was the most horrible smell,” he recalls. “I
was one of seven kids, and both Mum and Dad
were out working, so the old leg or side of mutton
used to go in the oven three times a week, and it
was just terrible meat, coupled with the fact that
Mum, bless her heart, was not much g ood
at cooking. So I always used to want plenty
of sauce, and the only way to ensure that in a
household of nine people was to make it, and
do the ser ving. Even back than I was thinking
about different kinds of seasoning.”
He describes the kitchen – any kitchen, as
“the place I belong”.
His first after-school job was delivering pizzas,
but he soon ended up in the kitchen making them.
Then, when he lined up a job at one of Auckland’s
premier restaurants to help pay his way through
university, he ended up doing an apprenticeship
instead. From there he went to the Gold Coast,
cooking, then Edinburgh, where he did extended
stints at its Michelin-starred The Grange restaurant
in between travelling the globe.
He came to Perth for a temporary stop off but
fell in love with the place and extended his stay,
working at several places including the Subiaco
Hotel. He met his wife, Claire, at Fraser’s and never
left, notching up four years as head chef there. He
cites general manager Chris Taylor as one of his
key mentors. “He has taught me a whole lot about
food, and about business.”
He attributes the success of The Old Brewery
to the fact that people love g oing back to basics.
“They might enjoy trying molecular gastronomy,
but they love to come back to those basic things,”
he says. “To me food is not a science. It’s about
passion, putting a bit of love into things, and I
think good food that everybody likes is stuff that
they’re not afraid to eat. So our menu is aimed at
classical g ood-eating food, food that’s well cooked,
well presented, but the one thing in common with
all of it is seriously, seriously good product.
“We don’t skimp on product, which is why I
love cooking degustation here.”
One of his most popular sauces is a fondue
made from cauliflower and Persian fetta. This
sublime but simple fondue, served in a tiny copper
pan with roast spring lamb, a traditional Sicilian
salmoriglio sauce and slow-roasted vine tomatoes,
is dangerously addictive. For degustation diners,
too, he might marry scallops with pea puree,
The elegant yet inviting interior of
The Old Brewery; (far left) Chef Greg
Farnan takes a break from the kitchen.
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