Frankly Frankston speaks to Todd Pegrum, who has been the chef at The Craft & Co Farm for just over a year now and credits his training at William Angliss under the careful eye of a great chef, teacher and friend Freddy Bosshard.
Please describe your menu selections at The Craft & Co Farm. What trends are you loving at the moment?
I tweaked the menu a little to consider the demographic of the area. I grew up five minutes away and have been in the area for 42 years. Let’s just say I know what they like to eat. As far as trends go, I don’t follow them at all. My food is honest and hearty; I’m old school and just go with the flow. If I see any more chips served in mini fryer baskets I think I’ll cry.
For those who aren't familiar with your restaurant, give us some insight into what makes you different?
The Craft & Co Farm is unique in that is the only working winery in the local area, while incorporating a lot of paddock-to-plate dining. We have just recently purchased chickens for their eggs and have our own vegetable, herb and botanicals garden. You can dine among our wine tanks and barrels or in our outdoor courtyard. The kids can run around and play on our huge open grassed areas while you sample our wines, craft beer and spirits in our cellar door - good food, drinks, ambience and space. It's also becoming more popular now for group functions and events, with one particular group recently requesting to dine among our vines, which is definitely something that sets us apart. Even our sister site in Collingwood brews beer, distills gin, roasts coffee and makes sausages, salami and cheeses which we incorporate into our menu.
Please tell us a little about your professional background?
I’m not what you call a classically trained chef, but I had always cooked and even had my own catering company for a while. Then I put myself through school to finally become a chef and haven’t looked back.
What is your style in the kitchen?
My style is rustic … very rustic. We didn’t have much growing up but my mother showed me how to make a meal out of virtually anything. “Waste not, want not” was her saying. Big plates, big smiles and company to share it with.
What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with in the cooler months?
I am definitely a carnivore and could see myself chasing woolly mammoths in a previous life, so any kind of meat is what I like to cook during winter. My favorite would be pork.
When not in the kitchen, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
With what little spare time I get I try and watch my local footy team, Chelsea Heights FNC. I have been supporting them for over 42 years and I have been cooking for the boys for well over 20. Other than that, my family takes pride of place. They are young and don’t get to see their dad as much as they should.
What do you love most about what you do?
I have always loved food, always. My mum was a brilliant cook; she could cook for 20 with nothing but a grill and two hot plates, so I have a lot to thank her for. I cook at home every night and every Thursday in footy and cricket season. It’s the satisfaction of sharing a meal with friends and family, and we don’t do enough of it as far as I’m concerned. Life is short.
Any advice for aspiring chefs?
Be prepared to work hard, and I mean hard. Head down, bum up, and listen. Keep your mouth closed and your ears open. Learn everything you can off everyone you work with. And taste everything you can, even the stuff you hate. Also travel far and wide - it will not only expand you cooking, it will open your mind.