After growing up in McLaren Vale, one of Australia’s premier food and wine destinations, there was a certain inevitability that Tom Tilbury would look to the kitchen for a professional career. With credentials including terms at d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant and Margaret River’s Cullen Wines, Tilbury returned to South Australia in 2014 to open his fine diner, Gather Food and Wine, on the Limestone Coast. The acclaimed restaurant, now Gather at Coriole, resides at McLaren Vale’s Coriole Vineyards, where the region’s outstanding producers and their ingredients remain the heroes of Tilbury’s proudly seasonal menu.
What most excited you about returning to McLaren Vale? What remains the same, and how has the region changed?
Coming back to the McLaren Vale region, I was excited to create food showcasing the area, and draw on the food memories I have of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The landscape and beauty of the area remain the same, but it’s certainly become a lot busier due to easier access from the city and the surrounding suburbs; a development which has been great for the local food and wine scene.
How would you describe your cooking style today? Has this evolved at all since you first started cooking, and what cuisines or experiences have influenced you along the way?
I am always being influenced by food experiences, travels, nature, and produce. This means that my style has evolved a long way from where I first started. Today, my cooking style is generous, thoughtful, sustainable and produce driven. That is one thing I have always remained true to since designing my own menus; keeping the focus on the produce, rather than a specific cuisine, technique or fad.
Coriole has prided itself on pioneering numerous grape varieties in Australia, yet also remains a stalwart for the traditional. Do you similarly aim to showcase innovative and traditional approaches?
I’ve always admired Coriole’s approach in pioneering new grape varieties. In the kitchen we are always looking at new ways to do things – new tastes, new produce and new techniques. In particular, we are looking at how we use produce that would usually be called waste. Any waste from prep usually gets reimagined in some form; we make vinegars for the menu using coffee grounds, vegetable peels or excess herb stems and products from around the Coriole estate.
Who are some of the suppliers of your produce?
From McLaren Vale, we have a few fantastic producers. McCarthy’s Orchard is close friends of Gather at Coriole, and it grows many different varieties of fruit. We are in close contact with Village Greens of Willunga Creek, which sends us a small weekly list of vegetables for us to use. Outside of McLaren Vale, we get beef from Nomad Farms and duck from the Coorong that we dry age at Ellis Butcher. Biodynamic winery and farm, Ngeringa, also supplies us with another weekly list to top up our vegetables.
Coriole is moving towards entirely organic practices for their vineyards. How important are such standards for providing quality produce?
Organic production practices have always been close to my heart. At Coriole we have an opportunity to demonstrate how we can make the right choices for the environment, our health and our community. I feel privileged that what I create can influence people’s mindset on eating organically and ethically.
Are there any particularly exciting varieties of produce you have been able to experiment with? Is the kitchen crew involved in gardening?
It has been great coming to Coriole and having gardens for the kitchen to access. In the last year, there has been a big push forward to extend and nourish the gardens further. We are now able to grow herbs, vegetables and fruit that we can’t buy, and experiment with a range of potatoes, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, and pumpkins, to name a few.
Having a connection to what you’ve grown and harvested can teach you a huge amount about respecting food, and how much work went into the produce. The kitchen team is involved in tending to the garden; picking, weeding, planting and planning, alongside two part-time gardeners who take care of the whole Coriole estate.
For the chefs, there is a lot of learning involved in working with produce from the garden, with the way one plant can change from day to day and having to maintain the plant so it is able to produce a quality product for the length of time needed. It’s a different side of cooking that many chefs don’t experience.
Your wine list exclusively celebrates Coriole wines for its Australian selection. Can you provide an example of the flavour profiles influencing a specific pairing on your current menu?
Our dish of cold-smoked kangaroo, steamed eggplant cream, tomato paste and fragrant herbs is perfectly matched with Coriole’s Nero d’Avola. The fragrance from the herbs and smoked kangaroo highlights the fruit in the wine and the creaminess of the eggplant balances out the gentle tannins.
With your menus being driven so powerfully by the seasons, what do you most love about this time of year?
We look forward to figs, stone fruits, tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchini. At the moment figs are picked every day from the driveway into Coriole, and on another property connected to the Lloyds’ we have around 20 different varieties of stone fruit.
Where else in the McLaren Vale would you spend time on a day off?
Some of the smaller cellar doors are excellent, including Samuel’s Gorge, also McCarthy’s Orchard, Goodieson Brewery and, of course, the beautiful beaches nearby.
This terrine would match perfectly with the 2019 Coriole Fiano – the natural acidity and texture of the wine is a great counterpoint to the richness of the pork.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 HOUR
750g pork shoulder, roughly minced
250g pork fat, diced into 0.5cm cubes
100g pistachios, shelled
5g fennel seeds
100g celery, diced into 1cm cubes
2 spring onions, finely sliced
salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
zest of 1 lemon
200g sliced pancetta, 15cm long
TO SERVE: pickles, crisp bread and mustard.
This recipe requires a mould with dimensions 30cm (L) x 10cm (H) x 10cm (W), or a rectangle cake tin of similar dimensions. A second mould is required for pressing.
1 Preheat oven to 120°C.
2 Mix all ingredients (except pancetta). Test seasoning by cooking a small amount of mixture in frying pan and adjusting with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
3 On top of mould, place 3 layers of oven-safe cling wrap, allowing a 10cm overlay on all sides.
4 On top of cling wrap, lay pancetta 1 slice at a time across mould and work down length to create a sheet of pancetta.
5 Gently lower cling wrap and pancetta into mould, keeping excess pancetta and cling wrap draped over sides of mould.
6 Fill in mould with pork mince mixture, making sure to press it in evenly.
7 Fold pancetta over top to enclose pork mince mixture. Fold cling wrap over top and gently press along terrine to ensure an even thickness.
8 Cover top of terrine in aluminium foil and seal well.
9 Place in oven and cook until internal temperature of terrine reaches 70°C (approximately 60 minutes).
10 Once terrine has reached 70°C, remove aluminium foil and place mould in refrigerator to cool. While terrine is cooling, place another mould of the same dimensions on top (filled with 3-5kg of weight) and weigh down to press. This helps to create an even terrine.
11 Allow terrine to cool to below 5°C before portioning. Cut into 1cm slices and serve with pickles, crispbread and mustard.