I think understanding your local environment and produce is key to creating dishes that stand out and most importantly are as fresh as possible.
SETH’S SEVEN FROM HEAVEN — FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS OF 2018
Finding locally produced native flavours is what inspires and drives Seth James, Executive Chef at Wills Domain, to continually push the inventiveness of his modern Australian artisanal menu.
One of the first journeys Seth took when joining the Wills Domain team five years ago was go out and explore the local coast. He spent a few hours walking from Smiths Beach to Injidup trying to work out what the local region had to offer.
Since that day his menu has always been a celebration of the produce derived as much as possible from the South West region and around Australia whether it be picking local seaweed from his friends farm in Wilyabrup, diving for abalone in Augusta or going on a wild harvest to source ingredients unique to Margaret River — it is always about getting close to the source for him.
“I think understanding your local environment and produce is key to creating dishes that stand out and most importantly are as fresh as possible,” Seth says.
Wild Scampi Caviar in Australia are fished in the waters off the Western Australian north coast in Shark Bay. The attraction of the wild blue colour and incredibly fresh rich salty flavour drew Seth to this impressive produce. These Scampi are harvested from waters 420-500m in depth, mainly around Port Headland. Scampi roe is kept on the outside of the scampi’s body, on the underside of the tail contributing to it’s natural salty flavour. The season for scampi caviar is November until March. The roe is hand harvested, sorted and tinned and nothing else is added to the wild scampi caviar except salt. That beautiful blue colour is all natural. Wild scampi caviar eggs are firm, but readily pop in your mouth.
Bremer Bay Snow Crab.
Chaceon albus, or as they are more commonly known, Snow Crabs have earned themselves an international reputation for having exceptional flavour. They fast became a favourite of Seth’s who loves working with West Australian seafood and particularly this breed due to the full flavours it can provide. Found along the west coast of Australia ranging from Carnarvon in the north down to the south western cape to Bremer Bay, these unique crabs are caught in depths greater than 500m which causes the distinctive white colour due to lack of light at such depths. The cold and pristine water at these depths is what producesthe crabs outstanding flavour.
Black bream are one of the most important recreational and commercial species in the estuaries of south-western Australia. They have a silver/olive brown upper body with brown/black fins and grow to about 60cm and 4kg. Black bream complete their whole lifecycle within an estuary and can cope with salinity and temperature changes that would kill many other species. It has sweet firm flesh and is delicious eaten whole after being stuffed and baked, or as fillets.
Coastal walks inspire Seth, he enjoys finding salt-infused ingredients from the ocean such as Samphire, cooking potatoes in fresh sea water and fresh seaweed to give a local flavour to his dishes. He loves going to his mate’s farm which backs onto a beach in Wilyabrupin Margaret River to source seaweed for a fresh, clean and pristine taste.
Seth’s Arkady Lamb Rib dishes are legendary. He particularly likes this breeder due to their MSA accreditation which means they adopt low stress stock handling practices to help produce tender well-coloured cuts of prime lamb. Arkady Lamb is a unique South West product from a single farm, and a single flock ensuring a consistently high meat quality. The prime lamb is reared at Lynford Farms, in the headwaters of the Blackwood River near Williams, in partnership with David Hohnen. A superb eating flavour and texture is achieved from a combination of slow maturing, pasture raised lambs exposed to salt rich grazing country.
Spencer Gulf Hiramasa Kingfish.
Kingfish should be sweet and fresh, firm but distinctively delicate and Seth chooses Spencer Gulf Hiramasa Kingfish from Clean Seas, to deliver the best of the best for his dishes. These Kingfish are raised sustainably in the pristine waters of the Spencer Gulf in South Australia — one of the cleanest bodies of water in Australia as there’s nothing between the waters where the Kingfish are raised and the Antarctic except the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean. This Kingfish can carry other flavours while retaining its own delicate characteristics. It can be mildly cured or marinated in lime juice. It can be slow-cooked, pan fried, or barbecued. The Kingfish are farmed in big pens, in clean, cold ocean water, not near any other Kingfish farms.
Seth has helped cultivate a rich vegetable garden near the Wills Domain kitchen and one of his favourite vegetables he likes to incorporate in his dishes and use as garnish is the estate-grown radish.