Page 21 - foodservice magazine August 2019
P. 21

A: Owners Tom Westcott and Whitney Ball
B: Baked lime leaf pannacotta with feijoas
C: Confit albacore tuna on toast with pickled zucchini, beans and peppers D: Three of the many rotating beer taps at Tom McHugo’s
B. C.
“It used to be the joke that all you could get in Hobart all year [round] was potatoes and cabbage. Now you’ve got six different types of potato and four different types of cabbage,” says Westcott. “I see it as healthy. It means that these small producers, if they want to, have got the opportunity to upscale.”
What Westcott makes with that produce changes daily, and appears on the menu at seemingly miraculous prices. You might find grilled sugarloaf cabbage with smoked pepper and fried pork sauce for $10; grilled beef tongue with glazed turnips, radicchio and mustard cream for $18; or a classic chicken parmigiana for $13.
“My background in the past is buying everything and doing everything from scratch. It’s a constant battle between whether or not it’s a good business decision, cost effective or time [efficient] to be doing things that way ... but it’s the thing that makes it most interesting,” says Westcott.
“I don’t understand how people could just order in pork scotch fillet in a bag and see that as a real form of cookery. I’m sure that it relates to training and the environment that you’re in ... but I really think, as far as the future of cookery, it kind of has to go back to where it started.”
Built in 1842 The pub has had many names – The Hobart Hotel, Maloney’s, the Montgomery Hotel – but its current name goes back to its Irish operator in the 1940s, something Westcott found out from one of his regulars, a former journalist at the Mercury who would come across the road from the news hall for
a drink on lunch breaks. The punter unearthed some old photos and articles and the name stuck. But despite wanting to disturb the status-quo pub format, Westcott still looks at them with reverence as community hubs, where suits rub shoulders with tradies, and regulars’ elbows have their own grooves worn into the timber bar top.
“I guess I look at pubs, especially the inner-city ones, as being like a hawker stand just a more permanent fixture. You see the workers. It’s easily accessible, reasonably cheap, easy-to-push-out- on-volume food. But we’re doing that with produce that’s the best in Tasmania,” says Westcott.
However breaking through the stigma of a pub as a place of inventive fare is a challenge. As is finding staff with the passion and training to keep up with the labour intensive cooking at Tom McHugo’s.

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