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My Favourite Dish: Barry Armstrong, Number 5 restaurant

My Favourite Dish: Barry Armstrong, Number 5 restaurant


Barry Armstrong
Head Chef - Number 5 Restaurant

Hereford Eye Fillet Beef with black truffles, potato gratin, mushrooms and parsnip puree.

This dish really signifies the restaurant - a take on a classic French dish with a few modern twists. My view as a chef is that dishes are classic for a reason, and that's kind of my cooking style. I like to take things that have been proven to be bloody good for a long time and try and make them a bit better.All my training is French so that's the kind of cooking I aspire to and enjoy. There's no gases or chemicals or sous-vide in this kitchen - we cook with pans and butter and oil!

This dish has been in my head for about three years. We had a beef dish on the menu beforehand that was a bit too popular, and when I took it off the menu a few times people went crazy. So I had to come up with a dish that could be a worthy successor to that. So far, so good!

The process of this dish begins when the eye fillet comes in. We open it up and hang it in the fridge for a couple of days to drain all the blood from it. I like my beef to be at least five to seven days old so we marinate it in some oil, garlic and thyme so it's a slow process. We like to get a week or so ahead.

There's a lot of prep for the other elements of the dish - the potato gratin is a dauphinoise potato which is pressed, and I make these every other day. The mushrooms are shitaki, needle, swiss brown and oyster mushrooms, the truffles we get in from France and are soaked in truffle juice (to get a bit more flavour into them), and the sweetbreads are poached and crumbed with potato flakes. So a lot of prep, but for a restaurant of this standard it's something you need to do.

I love this dish because it's me on a plate. People don't really understand - if you have a 9-to-5 job sometimes you can just switch off from work, but for chefs you're constantly thinking about the next step, about what will be on the next menu, what am I going to do, how do I do it? It's slow and painful, and then you go through it all over again for the next season's menu. So this dish has been a slow process but it's great to see your vision all come together and onto the menu.

Hands down, one of the best beef dishes I've tasted in Auckland. It's rich but not overwhelmingly so, and the smell and taste of the truffle is phenomenal.

As told to Jono Park.

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Content updated: 19/10/2019 18:52

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