A cooking class with Josh Niland in the Hunter

Author: Emma Breheny
Photography: Nikki To

Talented fish whisperer Josh Niland wows diners at his Paddington restaurant, Saint Peter, with the inventive likes of dry-aged Dory, spanner-crab croissants, and octopus head Scotch egg.

Come September, enthusiasts will have the opportunity to gain a glimpse into the young chef's craft at a cooking demonstration at the Hunter Culinary Association's annual Spring Seasonal Lunch at Muse Restaurant

Niland has a passion for lesser-known seafood and a nose-to-tail approach, something he's keen to promote through his demonstration.

"I'm going to break down every part of the fish and explain it," he says.

Apprentices and home cooks alike will hear how Niland buys whole fish and uses as much of them as possible, including the offal, and learn how to finesse their filleting and store fish properly.

Other kitchen lessons will include the variety of tastes and textures among the broad categories of white, red and blue fish, and the importance of cooking on the skin, which is where Niland believes the character of the fish lies.

"I want people to focus on the fish first and work backwards from there," he says. "Once you know how the fish tastes, you know what to pair with it."

Following the demonstration, chef-owner of Muse, Troy Rhoades-Brown, will serve a three-course lunch with matched Hunter Valley wines, making the most of late-winter brassicas from the restaurant garden and local farms - perhaps cauliflower lightly charred in the wood-fired oven or kohlrabi baked in salt - and serving them alongside local poultry, perhaps, or Murray cod.

Hunter Culinary Association Spring Seasonal Lunch, 11 September, 10am-2.30pm, Muse Restaurant, 2450 Broke Rd, Pokolbin, NSW. Tickets $30 (apprentices), $100 (members) and $130 (non-members). To book, email Kirsty at the association.







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