By Andrea Louise Thomas Photos Yanni
From his first foray into the high energy, high stakes environment of a professional kitchen as a 16 year old, Adam Sanderson was hooked. He’d been working front of house at the Marriot Hotel in Newcastle, England. His keen interest in the workings of the kitchen caught the attention of the head chef and he was hired as an apprentice
Nottingham was next where he was working in a brasserie/bistro. There he learned the basics and traditional cooking methods as well as developing troubleshooting skills. In a small kitchen there is nowhere to hide so the difficulties and intensity are felt and managed first hand.
Adam then moved to London to work with Gary Rhodes – a challenging and inspiring experience. It was the hardest kitchen he’d ever worked in. Starting out with an empty fridge in the morning, everything had to be bought fresh and made from scratch to serve 80 people for lunch and then 80 for dinner.
Another incredible mentor in London was Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck. Adam was struck by how interested Blumenthal was in the work of the chefs under his charge. Blumenthal shared great kitchen stories and gave excellent notes to his staff. Working at The Fat Duck was also special because it’s where he met his Danish wife, Marie, who was working there as a pastry chef.
Though he has worked in the UK, US and Denmark, the Mornington Peninsula is Adam’s favourite place. He first heard about Melbourne when he was working in Copenhagen with Paul Cunningham at The Paul. He and Marie followed up with their own research and decided to sell everything and move to Melbourne.
Adam and Marie received a very warm welcome in Melbourne when they joined the team at Andrew McConnell’s restaurant, Cutler & Co., in Fitzroy. Their first experience in an Australian kitchen could not have been better. Adam took the position of sous chef. Marie worked as a pastry chef. The pair found it very inspiring the way Andrew ran the restaurant, managed the business, and took care of his team.
About eight or nine years ago a sommelier friend suggested that Adam and Marie check out the Mornington Peninsula. He added, more specifically, that they should try the food and wine at Ten Minutes by Tractor because he considered it to be the best food on the Peninsula.
A little bit later, through a recommendation by a friend who had also worked with Heston Blumenthal, the head chef at Ten Minutes by Tractor gave Adam a call to see if he would be interested in a chef position. Without hesitation, Adam accepted and he’s been there ever since. Now he is head chef.
Adam’s own style is fresh, clean and seasonal. It’s important to him that the food is honest – the ingredients speak for themselves without need for embellishment. For the most part the ingredients come from local farms and local producers.
Creativity is at the heart of Adam’s cooking. Keeping up with what’s available from day to day and week to week keeps him on his toes. He loves working with the local growers and producers and the sense of community that comes with that. He likes being hands-on in every way.
Adam has a couple of signature dishes. First is Mary’s Garden Greens – a medley of Alambra Farm fresh produce resting on a bed of whipped smoked macadamia with apple balsamic and rye.
He’s also especially proud of his Kangaroo en croûte partnered with caramelised cauliflower, kale, raspberry and pepperberry.
While focused predominantly on local ingredients, the restaurant also sources from other places if the quality is great and the product can’t be found on the Peninsula. “Our food is locally driven and seasonal. We don’t have four set menus per year. The menu evolves weekly or monthly depending on what’s growing and what’s available,” he says.
“The Mornington Peninsula is the best place to be, as a chef and as a family. You’ve got everything here – the hills, the beach, great people and great community. It’s great to be a part of it,” he says. Even his young daughters are involved in collecting ingredients from nature when Adam and Marie take them on family outings.
Keeping it fresh is at the heart of everything at Ten Minutes by Tractor. It’s one of the very best places to try the magic of clean fresh, cuisine. If you love fine food, you’ll love what Adam is dishing up. He’s head chef for good reason.
Panna cotta with pea skin sorbet
- Buttermilk and pine panna cotta, pine nuts, pea skin sorbet, pine oil
- Recipe for the panna cotta
- 100g double cream
- 50g caster sugar
- 10g pine needles
- 3g gelatine leaves
- 200g buttermilk
- place the cream, pine needles and sugar in a pan and bring to a simmer then let infuse for 20 mins.
- soak gelatine leaves in cold water until soft.
- warm up the cream mixture and pass through a sieve and whisk in the gelatine.
- let cream cool for 10 mins then whisk in the buttermilk.
- add mix to set in bowls at desired measurement. let cool and set in the fridge.
Ingredients for pea skin sorbet
- 600g pea skins
- 700g water
- 350g sugar
- 7g sorbet stabiliser
- 5g ascorbic acid
- bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch pea skins for 30 seconds then refresh in ice water. drain off and dry.
- make a sorbet syrup by boiling the water with the sugar, stabiliser, and ascorbic acid then cool in the fridge.
- add the blanched pea skins to the cooled sorbet syrup and blend together in a food blender on high speed.
- pass through a fine sieve and freeze in paco jet containers.
- when ready to use blend in the paco jet and serve when ready.
For the garnish we use fresh podded peas, diced cucumber, toasted pine nuts, picked chervil.