Q&A with two-hatted chef, Teage Ezard
19 December 2016
1. When did you become a chef?
My career in hospitality began at the age of 17, when I undertook a culinary apprenticeship under the guidance of renowned chef Hermann Schneider at Two Faces. Herman helped me develop an innovative style of cooking which I applied at Guernica and my own restaurants.
In 1995 I became the head chef at Fitzroy restaurant, Guernica for five years. He also taught me the importance of food and wine matching – a skill that I apply to all my cooking.
After a few decades in the game I now have a number of restaurants under my belt. With flagship ezard and its sister Gingerboy in Melbourne, BLACK in Sydney and ezard @ Levantine Hill in the Yarra Valley.
2. What was your inspiration to become a chef?
My mother taught me at a very early age to cook – she inspired me and that hasn’t changed. I thank my mother for showing me how to be passionate and creative with food.
3. When did ezard open?
Ezard opened in 1999 and continues to go from strength to strength after 17 years. We wanted ezard to offer a fine dining experience within a stylish basement setting in Melbourne’s CBD. The menu reflects my approach to ‘Australian freestyle’, playing with a blend of Asian and contemporary dishes.
4. Why did you choose to open it at such a prestigious and unique location?
Flinders Lane has always been a destination as far as fine dining goes. Though the landscape has changed over ezard’s 17-year stay, it remains an iconic and quintessential Melbourne laneway and we’re proud to be one of its longstanding dining institutions.
5. What sort of clientele do you serve at the restaurant?
Ezard welcomes a range of diners: professionals, here for a business lunch or dinner; people celebrating a special occasions; our regulars that visit us on a weekly basis, business lunches and dinners; tourists and especially Melbournians who appreciate good food.
Having both a degustation and a la carte makes ezard suitable for a wide range of clientele and occasions.
6. What’s your favourite menu item?
The king salmon is a really exciting dish. We source the fish from Ora King Salmon, one of the most well-reputed suppliers of king salmon. The care and effort that goes into producing these fish leads to an incomparable product. Whilst the fish is impressive, the accompaniments really bring the dish together, particularly the golden broth – it’s almost as good as the salmon itself.
7. What is the most popular item on the menu?
The Chinese-style duck breast has been getting a lot of attention lately, and with good reason. It’s one of the mainstays on ezard’s menu due to its popularity and the perfect example of the hot/salty/sour/sweet balance we aim to achieve in all of our cooking at ezard.
8. If you could open one restaurant overseas, where would it be and why?
Previously I’ve ventured into the Asian market, which was a well-received choice. Though unlikely to happen in this lifetime (never say never, though!) I’ve always had a fondness for the Greek coastline, and I can’t go past a good beach-side chargrill – the freshness of the seafood is unbeatable.
9. What is the most unique dish you’ve created in your career?
The ezard oyster shooters are a definite crowd-pleaser, and the wow-factor hasn’t worn off on new and regular diners alike. Creating a dish that displays both innovation and longevity is a true hallmark of creativity, and one I’m proud to put my name to.