1 December 2020

Five minutes with Grant Astle, owner, Marvie & Wolfe cafe

| Michelle Rowe
Grant Astle, owner, Marvie & Wolfe

Grant Astle admires the small hospitality businesses that go the extra mile to bring something different to the Canberra food scene. Photo: Supplied.

Who is Grant Astle? I’m the owner of Marvie and Wolfe café in the CBD.

Best recent dining experience: Terra in No Name Lane. I had a great meal with the work crew. We had snapper toast, charred sourdough, Spanish mackerel pate and pickled onion, and smoked brisket. Great flavours and everything was well executed by a talented chef. I love anything cooked over charcoal.

Most embarrassing pantry item: It’s tinned corned beef for sure. My mum is Tongan and although she doesn’t eat it any more, old habits die hard. And there’s something about eating corned beef with manioke (cassava) cooked in coconut cream.

Must-buy ingredient: Good olive oil is a must. A couple of local ones I like are Fedra Olive Grove and La Barre.

Charlie de la Barre de Nanteuil

Owner Charlie de la Barre de Nanteuil with some of La Barre’s award-winning olive oils and vinegars. Photo: Michelle Rowe.

Next big thing: I feel that everyone is becoming more conscious of where their food comes from and how it is raised. More people thinking this way will eventually make things more accessible and affordable, putting suppliers, providores and producers in a better place, as well as consumers.

Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: I don’t get out much for breakfast because I’m at the café Monday to Friday. My family usually have breakfast at home together on Saturday morning but if we do head out it’s to Teddy Pickers in Campbell. None of their brekky items disappoints, but in particular the Brekky Roll with slow-cooked brisket that’s fried and crumbed and a fried egg is really good.

My Canberra food secret: It more an institution than a secret, but having a laksa at Dickson Asian Noodle House is always great. I moved away from Canberra when I was in my early 20s and when I’d come back to visit family I’d always try to get in for a duck laksa.

Duck laksa

The iconic duck laksa from Dickson Noddle House. Photo: Supplied.

Biggest culinary influence: My parents. Mum is a great cook, and my siblings and I still have requests for our favourite dishes around birthdays and Christmas. And working with my dad, a chef, when I was younger I guess sparked my interest in a career in cooking. Food was a pretty big part of our family.

Favourite cookbook: I can’t say that I really have a favourite cookbook. I do love reading so I’m into books on specific cookery subjects. My first cookbook was The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller and I do remember talking to buddies from work about him and his restaurants The French Laundry and Per Se in the US, and what it would be like to work there.

Teddy Pickers cafe

Tucking into the Brekky Roll with slow-cooked brisket topped with a fried egg at Teddy Pickers in Campbell. Photo: Supplied.

Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: I respect and admire the small business owners around town who are serving up good food, delivering great service and doing something a little different than your standard offering. The set dinner menu with matching wines at Temporada in the CBD is a must (but their lunch is also great). In Braddon, Andy Day and the crew from Rizla offer a thoughtful selection of wines and share plates to match, with great service; EightySix is always fun and the food is on point, and I love the cocktails at Beirut Bunker Bar in Garema Place.

What’s on the menu this week: We have a limited menu of rolls, sandwiches and salads on rotation day to day, dependent on what’s good and readily available from our suppliers. This week we’re doing a crispy smoked pork belly banh mi, sesame pickled carrots, sriracha mayo, cucumber, coriander.

Marvie & Wolfe banh mi

Marvie & Wolfe’s crispy smoked pork belly banh mi with sesame pickled carrots, sriracha mayo, cucumber and coriander. Photo: Supplied.

Where I’m going next: White Chaco in Braddon with the crew from work. I’ve heard really good things.

Death row meal: Shish cooked over charcoal, bread, toum (whipped garlic sauce), tabouli and pickles.

My COVID-19 response: We were very fortunate during COVID due to our existing business model. We are predominantly takeaway for coffee/drinks and food, so we closed the doors leaving a serving window and traded somewhat normally. We received so much support from our customers during this period, from wanting to purchase vouchers, to pre-purchase coffees for when their team got back into the office, to just generally spending more and helping out. It was quite humbling. I know that every business owner says they have the best customers, but I do love our customers – we have some amazing and lovely people who come through our doors and I’m extremely grateful for that.

Temporada food

Temporada’s wagyu intercostal, sesame leaf, hot bean paste and nashi pear. Photo: Supplied.

Cook like a professional … with a really simple recipe: I would likely fire up the BBQ out the back, throw on a nice piece of meat, pick some herbs from the garden and make a herb butter. Hopefully, my guest would be impressed enough with a really nice glass of wine and a nicely cooked steak.

Marvie and Wolfe’s menu is focused on rolls and salads. The team smoke all their meats onsite and make their own sauces, pickles and condiments. Coffee is sourced from boutique Sydney coffee roaster Little Marionette. Marvie and Wolfe is open from 7:00 am to 2:30 pm Monday to Friday and will be open until 3:00 pm in the new year 2021.

Original Article published by Michelle Rowe on The RiotACT.

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