Andrew McConnell is the brains behind Supernormal, Cumulus Inc and Cumulus Up, Luxembourg, Cutler & Co, The Builders Arms Hotel and adjoining Moon Under Water, which he announced this week would soon be closing to make way for a Chinese dining room – Ricky and Pinky.
Trading Plates recently spoke to restaurant royalty, Andrew McConnell to chat all things Supernormal, one of Melbourne’s favourite places to enjoy fashionable Asian cuisine.
How did you come up with the concept for Supernormal?
The idea behind Supernormal is simply an interpretation of my favourite Asian experiences. The menu is influenced by food found in restaurants and the streets of Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong.
How is each dish devised?
I work closely with the Head Chef and collaborate on a lot of the dishes we produce. The Head Chef and I usually sit down and talk about any ideas we have and about produce going in and out of season. It’s really important for us to look at seasonality of produce to determine what needs to come off the menu and also to inspire new ideas of what to put on.
Once we have some ideas we start doing a lot of testing in the kitchen, changing bits and pieces where we think it will improve the dish. Once a dish is on the menu, we will sometimes have to tweak a few things, so that it runs smoothly during service and stays consistent.
Where do you source your produce from? What things are important to you when choosing ingredients?
We use a range of different suppliers around Victoria, we are lucky that through Meatsmith we are able to find new breeds all the time. Whether it’s beef, pork or lamb, they are always looking for the best available produce in Australia. We are also very lucky to deal directly with a few small organic farmers around Victoria, it’s brilliant being able to chat to them about what is the best available currently and in peak season. Seasonality is the most important thing for us as it means that particular ingredient is at its best and most delicious.
How often does the menu change and why?
The menu is constantly evolving. The seasons often dictate what we put on the menu.
What are your tips for pairing food and alcohol?
One of the wonderful things about the Supernormal menu is that the countries from which we take influence do not have a traditional wine culture. That means that when we’re looking at developing a wine match for a dish we’re not looking to a classic pairing for inspiration – it’s all about the texture, weight and balance of the wine and how that complements the dish.
We’re always on the lookout for wines that have some sympathy for spice (any excuse to drink Riesling and Beaujolais!) and for those that have developed savoury, nutty umami notes from the winemaking process.
Of course, there is also the deep and complex world of sake and shochu and that we love to explore with our food- and what doesn’t match with an icy cold glass of Asahi Super Dry?
What do you feel is Supernormal’s point of difference?
We take a lot of influence from Japanese food, culture and design and also take inspiration from Korea and China too. The flavours that we work with are vibrant and refined and the quality of our ingredients elevate our approach.
Image source: https://www.broadsheet.com.au/