The grand final for the WA Signature Dish competition is fast approaching – roll on Monday, June 2nd! Each of the four regions has a special guest chef to help guide the regional winners to the final cook off. In the Great Southern, the chef is Silas Misah – owner and head chef of Pepper & Salt Restaurant at Forest Hill Vineyard in Denmark.
With his passion for the local region and the great variety of locally sourced produce combined with his love of spices, Silas’ dishes have become favourites amongst locals and tourists alike.
So how did Silas find himself in Denmark? Let’s learn a little more about his journey to WA and share in some of his foodie wisdom :)
What’s your career background, how did you come to be cooking in the south of WA?
I completed my apprenticeship in Brisbane, worked on Hayman Island with Peter Kuruvita and moved to Melbourne to start a family. I wanted to pursue my love of cooking in a friendly family environment, hence the move to Denmark. Denmark ticked all of the boxes that Ang and I wanted for our family and career. The great variety of food, wine and sense of community.
Do you think there’s been a shift in recent years towards people using more local produce?
Yes absolutely, people are becoming more aware of how their diet affects health. Hence eating fresh, locally produced ingredients is more beneficial to their well being. The true meaning of paddock to plate is in our backyard – exciting for foodies and chefs alike.
Your autumn menu includes many of the hero ingredients that the contestants from the Great Southern region could have used. If you were a contestant which Buy West Eat Best ingredient from the Great Southern would you have chosen to showcase?
I love the fresh seafood in the region, whole baked nannygai with tamarind and kaffir lime butter sauce. Fried Kangkong, white Kumara chips.
If someone was visiting the Great Southern, other than your fabulous restaurant, what other three spots would you recommend to a foodie for a visit?
Bio dynamic lamb farmers, Shaplands Fruit and Vegetable, Boatshed Markets for cheese and seafood.
Why do you think it’s important for people to get into the kitchen and try cooking their own meals?
The thrill and enjoyment of creating a dish that is soul satisfying.
What advice would you have for all budding at home cooks about how to plate up a tasty dish?
Keep the dishes simple, flavoursome with components that complement each other. A hint of spice for texture and depth.
Such wise words and I find it so very inspiring that Silas and his wife Angela packed up their family and headed to the Great Southern. It is such a beautiful part of the world, perfect for families and a place where amazing local produce is plentiful. I’ve no doubt it’s a delight for a chef to have so many incredibly fresh ingredients at their fingertips. Definitely a place where you can embrace a paddock to plate philosophy.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Chef Silas for taking the time to share his thoughts with me :) I am hoping I’ll be able to make it down to Denmark sometime soon to visit Pepper & Salt Restaurant and try some of the amazing dishes on the menu! It’s definitely a place I’ve put on my ‘must visit’ list for the Great Southern Region!