ONE of the Eastern Shore’s favourite watering holes, Mornington Inn, has undergone a major revamp recently, welcoming a brand new menu.
In celebration, new head chef Thomas James Logan has thrown open his kitchen doors to offer a rare glimpse into the man behind the popular and family-friendly ‘pub-style’ cuisine.
When did you first become interested in becoming a chef?
I was pretty much born into the industry and I always had one foot in the door by helping out in my family’s stores and restaurants. I constantly wanted to get in, help out and get my hands dirty. I went on to study classical French cuisine at the prestigious Ryde College in Sydney and now have more than 20-years of experience working in restaurants across Australia.
What is your favourite thing about cooking?
That would have to be the diversity of people that you get to meet through the kitchen, as well as the different clientele you get to cook for. There is such variety in this profession that you never live the same day twice. There’s never a dull moment and it always keeps you on your toes.
What do you think makes you a good chef?
I never go with the norm and I’m always thinking outside the box. I consider myself a mild tempered and well-mannered person, so that definitely comes in handy in the kitchen environment. I get on really well with my kitchen team, which is very important to produce good quality meals. I make sure I encourage and enthuse them so that they can perform at their peak.
What is your favourite dish?
I adore my rustic cooking, so anything along the lines of barbecued or smoked/slow cooked game I absolutely love. Also, now that I’m living in Tassie, I’m constantly being spoiled with all the fresh seafood and local produce that is so readily available. It makes me want to preform better so I am doing the produce justice.
How has the menu changed since you have arrived at Mornington Inn?
The biggest change is that we have implemented the $9.90 Cheap Thrills deal. We’ve also gone back to the basics with popular pub-style meals. This decision was prompted by public feedback, so it was very much a “you wanted it, now you have it” situation.
These types of meals are also extremely family-friendly and affordable. People can come in with their families and receive two large meals for under $20 with change to spare. So far, people have been responding extremely well. That was what I wanted to achieve – cheaper, larger and better quality meals that the whole family can enjoy.
Do you have any quirky habits in the kitchen?
I’d say the only real habit I have is that I insist on listening to grungy ‘80s music, which some kitchen staff are not a fan of. At least I try to mix it up a bit and not have the same songs playing on repeat. On occasion, I even let them choose the music if I’m feeling generous.
What would you recommend from the new menu?
Everything. However, I’d say the crowd favourite is the Drunken Irish Chicken, which has my “secret” sauce. Although, it won’t be much of a secret now. Everyone loves it and it’s a family-type dish that anyone can enjoy.
Drunken Chicken Sauce
500g button mushrooms, cleaned
4dsp (dessert spoons) grain mustard
500ml Stones Green Ginger Wine
Salt and pepper
Thinly slice and clean button mushrooms.
Sautee in ghee for 2-3 minutes, add grain mustard and ginger wine – reduce by half.
Add cream and reduce until thickened.