Top Shelf: Mod Oz cuisine, à la Andrew Blake

Mar 9, 2018 by Timothy MacDonald

Top Shelf: by Chef Tim MacDonald

The single greatest influence on my career was undoubtedly Andrew Blake. It goes far beyond the pressed salad.

Back in the day, returning to Melbourne at café Kanis after a stint in Sydney, he put it all together and defined Mod Oz cuisine.

It was not unusual to see him return from football at 6 p.m. and go straight into pumping out a Saturday night service, with a small portable TV showing the game replay as he worked.

Vialone Nano cooked to order, barbecued everything, gourmet pizza, pressed salads and always a sweet tart.

Here is one of his salads that has served me well on yachts, although it was not paid the respect it deserved by the Melbourne press.

The pressed salad can used in many forms, but in its simplistic form it forces the eater to combine all the ingredients in one mouthful. The twist is having spanking fresh seafood and ripe fruit.

Pressed Salad of Caribbean Lobster, Mango and Avocado

(This would cover 4 servings.)
4 Haas avocados, diced small and seasoned
2 ripe mangos, diced small and limed
One 2-pound Caribbean lobsters, steamed and diced in lime juice
2 limes
4 small, scrunched handfuls of baby rocket (arugula)

It’s very simple. In a salad ring, press mango on rocket, and then press in the lobster. Top the ring with smashed avocado.
It can be finished in many ways. In the picture here, I added ginger oil and plantain chip, as I was in St. Maarten. In the past, I have also served it on gazpacho salsa with langoustine and avocado. But, again, the secret is the freshest ingredients served simply.

Tim MacDonald ( is a chef with more than 20 years experience. He was named Concours de Chefs winner for Yachts over 160 feet at the 2011 Antigua Charter Yacht Show. His recipes are designed for the owner and guests. Comments are welcome below.