11 May 2021

Five minutes with Benn Ratanakosol, Morks

| Michelle Rowe
Benn and Mork Ratanakosol

Benn (left) and Mork Ratanakosol of Morks on Kingston Foreshore. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Who is Benn Ratanakosol? I’m the owner of Morks restaurant in Kingston.

Best recent dining experience: I always hit the same places when I’m after a good meal. My friends at eightysix in Braddon, Pilot in Ainslie, XO in Narrabundah, Rebel Rebel in New Acton, Bar Rochford in the city, and Italian and Sons in Braddon always have my back with their charming service and delicious food.

We recently had our staff party out at Helm Wines in Murrumbateman, catered by Fricken from Braddon and it had that holy-shit-this-is-fun vibe. Being entertained by Ken Helm, getting smashed on his wine, being surrounded by the vines that made it while eating fried chicken burgers with my team was an experience I’ll never forget. Our sincere apologies to the bus driver on the ride home.

Fricken, Braddon

Fricken staff member Finley Scheepers with a chicken burger at the Braddon outlet. Photo: Fricken.

Most embarrassing pantry item: The most embarrassing is actually too embarrassing to say (seriously). The second most embarrassing thing is the amount of food that mum and dad – who live down the road Everybody Loves Raymond-style – are always filling my fridge with.

Must-buy ingredient: Maxibon ice cream sandwiches.

Next big thing: More plants and less meat, driven by sustainability and technique.

Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: Sweet Bones in Braddon for its tacos and Rebel Rebel for its breakfast shawarma.

My Canberra food secret: Thai at Red Hill is the best traditional Thai in Canberra. It’s great for takeaway, or BYO your favourite off-dry riesling and enjoy owners Nei and Fon’s warm hospitality.

Ruby Chinese Restaurant in Dickson is the GOAT. It’s one of our favourites for family gatherings and staff parties. We always get the XO pipis, fried whitebait, jellyfish and roast duck, and pork ribs. On special occasions, we splurge on lobster and mud crab from the tank. And we clean them out of Tsing Taos.

Sweet Bones tacos

The tacos from Sweet Bones in Braddon are crowd-pleasers. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

Biggest culinary influence: My brother Mork, who is the head chef in the kitchen in charge of our beautiful food. I can always rely on him for culinary advice and turn to him whenever I need a dining companion or drinking buddy. Outside of my family, it’s Gus Armstrong from eightysix. A conversation with him is a recharge of the batteries. He is an intelligent and passionate man who’s always generous with his knowledge and time.

Favourite cookbook: I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple. The dishes are always tasty, easy to make, and fantastic for dinner parties. I got his latest release, Flavour, for Christmas and made the spicy mushroom lasagne on Good Friday. 10/10 recommend.

Contemporary Thai food

Contemporary Thai food is the focus at Morks. Photo: Ash St George.

Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: There are too many to name. I love seeing passion, and there is just so much of it in this beautiful industry. I know so many chefs, bartenders, managers and winemakers who are so unashamedly obsessed with their craft. It inspires and motivates me every day.

What’s on the menu this week: Try the wagyu inside skirt. The long pepper jus is deep and so powerful. The confit fennel and basil and chilli is one of the most prominent Thai flavour combinations and it works so beautifully as the backbone in this warming, soulful dish.

Where I’m going next: I’m heading to Sydney to celebrate my partner’s birthday, and I’m eagerly awaiting my dinners at Sokyo and Café Paci. I’ve wanted to visit those two for ages.

Morks Kingston

You’re guaranteed a fun night out at Morks. Photo: Ash St George.

Death row meal: It’s always a dish you grew up on, so either lasagne (grandma) or beef massaman (dad).

My COVID-19 response: The biggest lesson I learned was to reduce the number of people in the room. You’re able to talk to everyone, the room feels more welcoming, and it’s easier to listen to your guests.

Confit fennel

Confit fennel (foreground) and wagyu inside skirt (background) at Morks. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

My really simple recipe tip: I’ve always got a stick of Café de Paris butter in the fridge and a couple in the freezer. If great company arrives at short notice, a quick trip to the IGA for some beer battered chips teamed up with a couple of rib eyes with lashings of Café de Paris butter keeps everyone happy.

Morks restaurant serves contemporary Thai food in an eclectic space on Kingston Foreshore. It’s open for dinner from 6:00 pm Tuesday to Sunday, and lunch from 12:00 pm Wednesday to Friday and Sunday.

Original Article published by Michelle Rowe on The RiotACT.

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