Young George executive chef and co-owner, Melissa Palinkas, has been praised by food reviewers for her ‘inventive, fun, smart and original’ food. And there’s good reason: her ‘zero waste’ approach means every part of her ingredients adds flavour.
Passion and philosophy
How did your passion for cooking start and what is your food philosophy?
My passion for food really kicked off when I was 26 and I moved to London on working holiday visa, when I got back from travel I was 31 and it was then I was ready for a great career in cooking.
My food philosophy is based around not wasting a thing, using every part of the animal & in finding a use for all parts of the vegetables also. Leaves as edible garnish, peelings we dry to make our own seasonings, stalks we ferment and make condiments for dishes.
Most and least favourite produce/ingredient to use?
I don’t really have a least favorite ingredient to use. I love a challenge so I don’t see anything as a bad ingredient. By far Pork is my favorite ingredient as it’s a zero waste animal and it is very versatile meat to use.
What should a novice cook start with?
A novice should start with a good cook’s knife & learning how to use it properly, a good variety of herbs & spices and basics in the panty, read a recipe from start to finish and follow the methods correctly. There is heaps of advice on line so Google is your best friend here when you get stuck or don’t understand a method.
What’s a cooking hack you can share?
Gee a cooking hack, one I like to do is when I buy a whole pumpkin, which are now fully in season, I scoop out the seeds using a ice-cream scoop. I dry the seeds then I coat in a bit of olive oil & sea salt then roast the seeds like you would almonds and use on salads as a nice crunchy texture. The best seeds are from the Jap pumpkin and once roasted are a nice crunchy texture.
What’s the most common mistake you see being made in the kitchen?
The most common thing I see is not having a sharp enough knife. It drives me insane. You cant prepare food with a blunt knife and do it to a high standard.
What underrated produce/ingredient would you like to see more people use?
The most underated ingredients I find are tongues, Pigs ears & tails. The tongue is so delicious, it tastes exactly of the animal with no offal flavour at all. Tails and ears braised in a beautiful master stock, crumbed & fried are amazing?? I do the tails deboned & battered occasionally, they move slow but I tr and educate people that they are so delicious.
Gadgets and trends
What are some must-have kitchen gadgets?
A timer, a good crank handed spatula and a set of tongs – very simple but needs. I don’t have any gadgets, the only one would be the sous vides for precision cooking.
What’s a kitchen trend you’ve noticed these days?
Vegetable forward menus, sustainability in a kitchen is catching on – slowly. There are some real leaders in the game already such as New Normal in Subiaco. I think it’s going to be the next huge and become the norm. It has to for future generations.
What do you see being discarded from produce that really should be used?
I am not sure really I don’t work in any other kitchens to see but as a guess I think Leaves, stalks & tips from vegetables that are fully edible as well as?
We hear a lot about family trade secrets being passed down through the generations, what’s a trademark that you’ll be passing on?
My charcuterie making skills. I grew up with a German grandmother and we ate lots of cured meats & sausage & my mum taught me never to waste a thing and remember where it comes from.
Young George and Melissa Palinkas
Now you know a little more about Melissa, try her pork jowl and plum perfect pairing recipe.
You can always enjoy a taste of homegrown goodness from Melissa Palinkas’ restaurant, Young George in North Fremantle. Check out this homegrown restaurant and keep supporting local businesses.
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