Hi, My Name Is: Dan Cooper

Published on 17 January 2020

Photo: Prince Public Bar's head chef Dan Cooper

The last piece of the puzzle is slotting into place at The Prince Hotel, with the opening of the new-look Public Bar on Monday 20 January as part of the St Kilda venue’s makeover by owners Gerry and Andrew Ryan. Chef Dan Cooper has worked on the new Public Bar menu, which offers pub favourites made with top-quality produce. Fun fact: Cooper enjoyed his first beer in Melbourne at the Public Bar many moons ago.

Hi, my name is Dan Cooper.

You might remember me from such establishments as Circa, Garden State Hotel and Aria Brisbane.

My brief for my new gig is modern, fresh and produce-driven pub food. Classic counter meals like burgers, fish and chips and chicken schnitzel are a big part of the menu, plus we’ll have daily roast and a good selection of snacks that are perfect with a beer.

I’m passionate about fresh produce and cooking over fire. I love seeing what ingredients our amazing network of suppliers share with us – their deliveries are the highlight of my week. There's always something unexpected in the mix, from wild fruits and berries foraged roadside on the drive to Melbourne, to pine mushrooms from a secret forest. These surprise deliveries help shape our menu and the dishes often become runaway favourites with our guests. 

Which means I’ll be cooking a lot of proteins and vegetables in our woodfired hearth. Steaks from Cape Grim, Western Plains pork, lamb from Flinders Island, and seasonal vegetables like heirloom zucchini, summer tomatoes and stone fruit will also be kissed by fire.

The summer ingredients I’m most looking forward to using are tiger prawns from Skull Island and aged T-bone steak. Summer is a great time of the year to cook, especially when you have a wood-fired barbecue. All you need to add is a fresh salad of tomatoes and basil to make these ingredients sing.

I’d like you to come in and see us at Prince Public Bar so you can make it your own. It's important to feel comfortable in a pub and that's what we've tried to achieve through our menu. Be quick to grab a seat out the front in summer, or prop yourself up at the bar or by the fire in winter.

My go-to counter meal is a pub steak. It's a smaller piece of beef, quickly grilled over coals, served alongside a classic peppercorn sauce. Add a few chips and a cold beer to round it off.

If there’s one thing you can’t leave without trying it's the braised pork hock with crisp crackling and meat that you can practically pull from the bone. When I come in with friends, this will definitely be on my table. 

The Prince Public Bar, 29 Fitzroy St, St Kilda, theprince.com.auFollow the latest on Instagram at @princepublicbar.

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