If you take up a spot at Craig’s Royal Hotel, and your dish gives you all the happy feels, then Shannon Easton knows he has done his job.
The executive chef at the majestic Ballarat restaurant conjures up his works of (food) art with one particular aim in mind.
“Happiness,” Shannon says. “I want every person to taste my food and simply feel happy. I feel that a good balance of flavours, textures and colours creates that.”
Having been in the food and wine industry for 18 years, Shannon’s love for cooking started from a very young age. Growing up in a small country town in Gippsland, he was instilled with a love for food and working the land.
“Growing up in Gippsland around dairy farms, we would go blackberry picking, then go home and Mum would show us how to make jam. Or we would go and collect eggs from the hens then go and bake cakes or slices,” Shannon recalls.
“I acquired a lot of basic cooking skills from my mum and family, and still use them to this day. But I’d never tell her that!”
Moving to Ballarat in 2002, Shannon started working at Craig’s Royal Hotel as an apprentice under Julian Robertshaw. Robertshaw tested his boundaries and injected respect, knowledge and creativity into a young, malleable Shannon.
Since becoming executive chef two years ago, Shannon has been able to actively showcase his gastronomic creativity through his artistic, wholesome, locally-produced dishes, creating a fine dining experience delivered in an opulent, historic setting.
The chef has also had the opportunity to work alongside consultant chef Ian Curley, bringing a taste of Melbourne to the Ballarat food scene.
Dishes on the menu range from Aged Cape grim porterhouse, café de Paris butter, parsley salad, and steak frites to Cottoletta of Western Plains pork, Italian coleslaw, mustard, and lemon. Then there’s the stunning pan-roasted Hapuka, charred cos lettuce, smoked mussels, fennel, and shell fish vinaigrette and the indulgent pan-seared breast of Great Ocean Road duck, crisp leg croquettes, cherries and almond.
“I really enjoy creating relationships with growers and farmers so I know I’m getting the best quality,” Shannon says.
“I research the steps from paddock to plate so I know it’s ethical and that minimal processing is involved. Nose-to-tail cooking is something I’ve really started to enjoy and experiment with over the last couple of years.”
Craig’s Royal Hotel is located at 10 Lydiard Street South, Ballarat. Visit www.craigsroyal.com.au/ or phone (03) 5331 1377 for more info.
This content was kindly supplied by the Visit Ballarat blog via the City of Ballarat. To read more visit blog.visitballarat.com.au.
Written by Della Vreeland