Q&A: Joe Dean – Head Chef at Hoo Haa
What do you think about Melbourne's restaurant scene?
Melbourne's restaurant scene seems to be ever-evolving. Coming from Sydney it always amazes me at the diverse range of cultures and the influences that they have on the restaurant scene. I love venturing out to the city and trying people's new spin on [classic] dishes.
What's the concept behind the menu at Hoo Haa?
Modern Australian cuisine with a European influence. The food is good, honest and humble.
Never been to Hoo Haa before….what should I pick?
During the week you can't go wrong with a $15 meal (Tuesday - pasta and wine, Wednesday - Superparma, Thursday - steak), however I always recommend to friends a few smaller plates and one of our mains dishes. I love the cumin-roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate, seeds and yoghurt or the pan-fried squid with spiced chickpeas, chorizo and basil. Probably the most popular dish is the wet-roasted lamb shoulder with white wine and red capsicum served on a semolina cake.
Who or what inspires you when you are creating a new dish?
The customers. I always try to talk with our regulars and get their feedback on dishes. I love hearing about people and their travels and the culinary experiences they have had. It may not be right for this menu but I may be able to incorporate it in the next. I think people get a real kick out of coming in and seeing their influence on the venue.
Almost into the festive season…what's your favourite X-mas dish?
Honey-glazed gam! Yum yum yum.
Go on - name one thing that avocado doesn't taste good with?
VB - Victoria Bitter
Three ingredients you can not live without?
Vegemite, avocado and VB? - I love fresh house made pasta, cumin and fresh herbs.
Finally sum up the dining experience at Hoo Haa in three words??
Fresh, filling and fun.