By Leigh O'Connor. Photos supplied by Tennis Australia and Delaware North.
Long considered the Family Slam of the world tennis circuit,
this month’s Australian Open at Melbourne Park serves up more than just
racquets and balls, kids.
Those who decide to spend Australia Day courtside can choose
from diverse dining options such as award-winning and internationally acclaimed
restaurants Rockpool Dining
Group and Nobu, through to local eateries like Mamasita
Mexican and Biggie Smalls.
Australian Open Executive Chef, Asif Mamun.
Overseeing the fare on offer around the various courts and
social gathering areas is Australian Open Executive Chef, Asif Mamun. Growing up
in Dhaka in Bangladesh, Asif graduated from Arts College before Australia beckoned
and he moved here 16 years ago.
"It wasn’t until I came to Australia that I discovered I was
a food lover - it was the diversity and range of cuisines here that inspired
me. I am from Bangladesh, but my great-great-great grandparents were from the
Middle East, this is why I have a weakness for spices. I can’t call one
particular cuisine my own, I like to celebrate all food,” he says.
The diversity of culture in and around Melbourne makes the
city an amazing food destination and gives Asif the opportunity to use great
local produce to showcase the region.
"I use the creativity I gained from Arts College and my love
of making use of colours when I create my menus. My aim is to bring global
flavours as a destination on your plate,” Asif explains.
Asif Mamun in the kitchen with some of his team.
Working with international company Delaware North and managing an Open
staff of more than 300 can be very stressful, tiring and impossible to do by
"I have a very good team around me that I rely on and trust
to make the event a success. The key is planning – all year is spent planning,
writing menus, working with our suppliers, cook-offs and menu tastings.”
Delaware North is a large, family-owned business that has
been around for more than 100 years and for Asif, the opportunities are endless.
"The business has very high standards, so when you are
performing well, the opportunities will come. Whether it’s being part of events
on the world stage like the Australian Open and Commonwealth Games, other
Delaware venues like Etihad Stadium, Phillip Island and Lizard Island, or just
working with other well-known Chefs.”
Asif Mamun's highly requested chilli pork belly, recipe linked below.
Asif not only looks after the culinary desires of
event-goers, but also caters to some of the top players’ requests. He is a
little coy about giving too much away, but says they do enjoy their carbs,
especially when they are winning.
"I want to keep that a secret between them and me…but
despite what you may think, they are not all health freaks. Chilli
pork belly is a favourite of many.”
Asif’s favourite and most inspiring ingredient to create
dishes with is seasonal produce – Summer truffles, early berries and new season
potatoes - evident in his signature Open dish of cured salmon with coffee bean
soil, avocado parfait and finger limes.
Grand Slam Oval.
When not involved with the Open, he caters for many other
events at Melbourne Park throughout the year, such as basketball at Hisense and
concerts at Rod Laver Arena – great, because he is a secret Bon Jovi fan!
With the Australian Open set to soar to new heights this
year and the world’s best back in action, great food and a family atmosphere
will ensure the 30th anniversary of the Australian Open at Melbourne
Park gets hit for an ace.
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