Melissa Palinkas is a chef who knows her stuff. Her 23 years in the kitchen has seen her work as the Executive Chef at Mash Brewery, the Head Chef at The Cabin and also complete a stint in a London gastropub.
Since June 2015, Melissa has been the part owner and Executive Chef at Young George in Fremantle. This is a restaurant that prides itself on it’s nose to tail ethos and use of local produce that’s farm direct. This makes Melissa the perfect chef to be an ambassador for WA Potatoes.
Each year, new chefs are appointed as ambassadors of the local potato industry. Named Potatodors, these chefs are passionate about local produce and supporting the WA potato industry.
Through Fresh Potatoes WA, Potatodors engage with local growers so they can get to know their producers. This includes growers providing samples of new varieties for chef feedback and working together to understand what chefs want and how growers can supply it.
“It’s extremely important we buy 100% local to assist our farmers in continuing to grow and supply WA people,” says Melissa. “By buying imported potatoes, we are lining pockets of farmers in other countries, which in turn means our farmers can’t move their product. Most of this then goes to land fill and waste.”
WA Potatoes can go from paddock to Young George’s plates in 24 hours. With the menu focus being on seasonal and local produce, this is valuable to Melissa.
“Freshness is paramount in my kitchen,” says Melissa. Something that is just picked, cooked and then put on a plate is always going to have the best flavour and quality.”
Melissa has several dishes featuring WA potatoes at Young George. These include a charred cuttlefish dish, bacon perogis and the triple cooked potatoes.
“At the moment I am using soprano potatoes and royal blue potatoes,” Melissa says. “We sell 100kg of soprano potatoes per week.”
The golden, crunchy triple cooked potatoes are made with sopranos giving them a creamy centre. This dish comes served with a punchy pier piri and sour cream sauce.
Bacon perogis were filled with potato, parmesan, maple and truffle oil. These four dumplings were bursting with flavour and had a touch of crispiness on the edges. Shaved parmesan, bacon crumbs and fried onion were scattered on top as a final touch.
Soon the menu will also include a potato dish with oxtail gravy. Melissa plans to use baby royal blue potatoes sourced from Peter Manifis at Passion Meets Purveyor. These baby potatoes have imperfections meaning they would probably end up in landfill if it wasn’t for Peter’s business connecting chefs to farmers.
If you’d like some tips on buying potatoes, especially from farmer’s markets, check out this post on Foodie Cravings – Why Dirty WA Potatoes Are Good For You
48 George Street, East Fremantle
Open Tues to Thurs 12pm–late, Fri to Sun 7am–late
This article is sponsored by Fresh Potatoes WA
Photo credit of Melissa by Susan