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Off The Cuff:
A Long Lunch With
Big Sam Young

December 18, 2019

Lotus head chef Sam Young is getting ready for the party season. Here’s a look at how the chef known as Big Sam Young goes BIG, when hosting a lazy, Sunday lunch.


“I usually start any kind of long lunch with a few dozen oysters. I truly believe Sydney Rocks are the best oysters in the world. I shuck them as soon as my guests arrive, and serve them natural, with nothing more than lemon and a bottle of Jacques Selosse champagne to go with it.


A seafood crudo platter with uni (sea urchin), Japanese bluefin tuna toro (tuna belly), sea scallop, scampi and swordfish belly is a standout. If there are scarlet prawns around, they’ll definitely be on there, too. I like to serve my crudo platter with a Thai-style nam jim or Vietnamese Nước chấm dressing. The best part? You can make it in advance. I’d also hand-pick a mud crab the day before, and serve it with toast and mayo. And if you really want to impress your guests, add some caviar and a nice white burgundy.


When I’m hosting, I don’t want to spend too much time cooking. I want to enjoy more time (and drinks!) with my guests. A platter of terrine, galantines and ballotines, pâté, salami and Parma ham from Romeo’s Fine Food  is great for this: you can pick up a selection at Harris Farm or Carriageworks Farmers Market. Again, the platter can be done before your guests arrive. But slice the Iggy’s sourdough fresh. There’s nothing better.


The next course is pasta, of course. I use black truffle in the winter, or white truffle in our Australian summer. Melt butter in a pan with a bit of pasta water, salt and truffle trimmings, splash in a little stock, and stir until creamy and emulsified. In the meantime, cook the pasta. Just before it’s ready, add the pasta to the pan to cook it a bit longer in the sauce, adding butter or more pasta water depending on how it’s looking. Off the stove, mantecare with a bit of parmesan. My secret is I put a little bit of white soy in it at the end to season it. Then plate and shave extra truffle on top. It’s an instant crowd fave.


After that, it’s time for a whole fish (I prefer round fish such as flounder or turbot) cooked on the grill and then sauced with anchovy butter, lots of capers, lemon juice and roast garlic. A big fat rib-eye, cooked on the barbecue, also works: serve it with a simple butter lettuce salad with lemon juice and olive oil, or in the summer, a ripe tomato salad with heaps of basil.


We’re full by now, obviously, but you can’t skip the cheese course. My go-to cheese plate always has Saint Agur blue, Will Studd Brillat Savarin, some Époisses de Bourgogne, and a Holy Goat from Victoria with some grapes and Tasmanian leatherwood honey. If you really need something sweet, I would just buy a big strawberry mascarpone cake from Lorraine’s Patisserie. By this time I’m usually very tipsy. And how good is cake?

Words by Maggie Scardifield

Illustrations by Rosa Morgan