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Chef Challenge: Hayden McFarland

Hailing from just around the corner at Woodland House (the old Jacques Raymond), this month’s Edible Adventures chef challenger Hayden McFarland is about as local as they get (pair that with his use of Wallaby and it goes to the next level!).

Having had the pleasure of experiencing his cooking through a Spring menu preview last month, Hayden’s emphasis on locality and seasonality, is exactly what prompted me to “challenge” him in the first place – because I knew that he could take the glorious produce that our market has to offer and make it his own.

And boy was I right!

Marinated wallaby with cumquat dressing. Spring asparagus and morels.


  • 600g wallaby loin
  • 200ml grapeseed oil
  • 40ml oyster sauce
  • 40ml worchestershire sauce
  • 2 ea small salad onions
  • 100g rock salt
  1. Place the whole onions onto a bed of the rock salt and bake at 170 for 25 minutes – until tender.
  2. The wallaby needs to have any thick silvery sinews removed. It is the lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and evenly sealed in a warm pan – over a gentle heat for approx. 5 minutes – it has to remain rare or it will be very tough.
  3. While the meat is cooking mix together the oil, oyster and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl or baking dish. As soon as the meat is cooked, remove from the pan and plunge into the marinade.

Cumquat dressing

  • 200g cumquats
  • 250ml orange juice
  • 200g raw sugar
  • 10g coriander seed
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  1. Wash the cumquats and set aside to drain, combine the spices and orange juice in a small pan and bring to a simmer, in a wide heavy pot melt the sugar – taking care to not let it get too hot. When the sugar has reached a light golden colour add the cumquats and continue to stir them in the hot caramel.
  2. After 2 minutes the cumquats will have softened, no strain the juice into the pan with them and simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes – until it has reduced lightly.

Asparagus and morels

  • 500g Asparagus
  • 100g Morels
  • 100g butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  1. Snap the ends of the asparagus to remove the woody stems. Ensure the morels are clean by tapping in your hand – if they appear sandy they can be gently washed in some warm water.
  2. Lightly salt a bot of boiling water and boil the asparagus for 2-3 minutes depending on the thickness – you want it to remain a little bit crunchy.
  3. Place the butter in a small pot with 50ml of water and the crushed garlic clove, bring to a gently simmer and add the morels. These will only take 1 minute to cook, you want them to ‘melt’ a little but not go soft and sloppy.

To serve

  1. Remove the outer skin of the onions and chop the centres into rough shapes, this is laid down on a plate, carve the wallaby across the grain and present on the onions, this is then dressed with the cumquats – fruit and juice.
  2. On the other side of the plate place the still warm asparagus and dress with the morels and butter emulsion.
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