Food banter with Ashwin from Nickel Kitchen & Bar | The Gourmand & Gourmet

Food banter with Ashwin from Nickel Kitchen & Bar

Taking inspiration from the past and the present, Nickel Kitchen and Bar is all about good old fashioned indulgence. Serving breakfast lunch and dinner, this powerhouse blast from the past, has charmed the pants off of Fortitude Valley with decadent weekend breakfasts, mains to wine and dine, and sugary desserts in just 3 months. Now, after receiving its first hat in the Good Food Guide Awards, Nickel is bringing its taste for the past roaring into the 21st century. Of course this left us dying to corner Ashwin Warncken, Head Chef and man in charge at the newly hatted Nickel, to talk inspiration, Ice Breaks and his take on the Brisbane food scene. So Nickel Kitchen & Bar just picked up its first Hat in the Good Food Guide awards – congratulations! What do you attribute the success to? It’s such an honor to have so much of your hard work paid off by being amongst the top pool of restaurants in Brisbane. A chef’s hat is something all chefs strive for and to be awarded one in such a short amount of time is an incredible achievement and we are over the moon. I think one of the main successes of this restaurant stems down for our wonderful owner, TJ. His wealth of knowledge and constant bubbliness rubs off on the staff and creates an atmosphere of happiness mixed with passion and professionalism. We also have an amazing front of house team, plus my boys in the kitchen led by Executive Chef Extraordinaire Chris Sell love what they do and more importantly, love being a part of the Nickel team. What’s next on the menu for Nickel Kitchen & Bar? Anything new and delicious in the pipeline? Our initial menu of old classics has been a hit so far. It revolves around retro classics, which created with a particular modern technique. Diners are taken back in time to dishes like prawn cutlets, Steak Dianne and our signature dish, the Barossa Valley chicken kiev. But there are some exciting things in the pipeline – we’re in the final stages of launching our degustation menu which will be matched with some of the amazing wine, carefully selected by our very experienced and passionate Group Sommelier Johnny Little. What inspired your love of food? My interest in food started at a young age. I used to rush home from school to catch the end of cooking shows. Huey was my favourite! I always enjoyed helping mum out in the kitchen and loved cooking for the family. Are there any Australian producers, suppliers or thinkers that are really inspiring you at the moment? I’m really enjoying the quality and range of products from Prime Cut at the moment. They have an endless supply of products that you wouldn’t even think of. I would highly recommend them to all chefs out there! I’m currently finding myself getting inspiration from GOMA Executive Chef Josue Lopez. I’m really enjoying what he is doing at the moment. The way he puts his take on classics really inspires me, and he is forever creating amazing food that leaves me envious of his talent. Always very interested to see what he comes up with.  If we took a peek in your fridge, what would we find? If you were to open my fridge at home, you would find 3 shelves full of carefully planned out meals in take away containers that belong to my housemates. Moving down to my shelf, you might find a half-eaten block of chocolate or maybe even a near empty bottle of Ice Break if you’re lucky. I spend a lot of time at work, so I don’t get a lot of time to cook at home. On my days off I like to go out to other restaurants or local cafés to suss out the competition.  Where would we find you when you’re not in the kitchen? As of late you’d find me planted in front of my TV watching the Olympics. However usually on my days off I like to have a bit of a sleep in, maybe go out for a coffee or some breakfast with some mates. I’m really enjoying, not just the amount, but the quality of cafés coming onto the Brisbane scene. I love going out and trying new places. I especially like the ones that have a bar attached to them! What do you think of the Brisbane food scene right now? The food scene has come a long way since I joined the industry. I used to love going down to Melbourne or Sydney just to get amongst all the local food trends that Brisbane was missing out on, but we currently have a lot of talented chefs in Brisbane, and there are always new restaurants and cafés popping up and setting the bar higher. Where/what was the last great meal you ate in Brisbane? I actually went for dinner at Madame Wu a couple of weeks ago. It was my first visit and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had the land based Banquet menu. The food was delicious and all complemented by the amazing location. AshwinWarncken | Nickel Kitchen and Bar