With his thick Irish accent and cheeky grin, Colin Fassnidge certainly knows how to play up to his ‘tough guy' persona on Channel 7's My Kitchen Rules but there's more to Colin Fassnidge than meets the eye. This is a man who is made for the hospitality industry.
Arriving on Australian soil in 1999, it took Fassnidge a little over a decade to establish himself as one of Australia's most highly regarded chefs, as owner of Paddington's Four in Hand Dining Room, where it has held two SMH Good Food Guide chef hats since 2011, and its Surry Hill sister, 4Fourteen.
Pork has been a key part of the Irish diet since prehistory and 4Fourteen's menu pays homage to the chef's heritage with the ingredient popping up in every shape and form. Take the crisp croquettes, stuffed with chunks of ham hock and cheese or "CJ's chips and dips", where pork crackling and fried kale are the vessels used to dunk into a smoked potato mayonnaise. Then there are more conventional dishes such as roast pork with prunes, parsnip crisps and house bacon.
While pork and potato are certainly key ingredients in most dishes, it is Fassnidge's loyalty to nose-to-tail eating that is the backbone of all his menus. In our faddish society chefs have been forced to modify their menus. Not Fassnidge though. Black pudding is served with chunks of ham hock, sweet capsicum relish and a fried duck egg, the runny yolk forming a sauce for the dish. Corned silverside is matched with a pistou and seasonal vegetables while a tripe ‘hot pot' is given a spiced edge with chorizo. There's lamb tongue and, my favourite, roasted bone marrow, doused in a vibrant chimichurri with grilled bread to soak up all the melted marrow juices. Nose-to-tail chefs often fall into the trap of interpreting their philosophy in weird ways, presenting dishes that even hard-core foodies would find hard to stomach. At 4Fourteen, Fassnidge has managed to create a menu that is accessible, even for the most conservative of diners, paring unusual cuts with classics and remembering that at all times, food just has to be bloody tasty. And at 4Fourteen, that's what you get - bloody tasty.
72a Fitzroy Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010