Hi, Our Names Are Brianna Smith and Oliver Edwards

Published on 25 May 2021

Photo: Oliver Edwards and Brianna Smith (credit: Andrew Clark)

On Thursdays, a whole pig gets delivered. Friday, the forager will (hopefully) pop by with a bag of something exciting: wild rocket, sloe berries, nasturtium leaves or karkalla. On Wednesday, it’s shoyu-stirring day. This is the rhythm of a week at Hazel, the Flinders Lane restaurant that’s taken a leap into the world of DIY, well, everything, under the new leadership of Brianna Smith and Oliver Edwards. The pair were initially brought on for the restaurant’s 2019 opening to create the cheese and charcuterie programs. Now, they’re heading up the kitchen. Here’s what they’ve got in store.

You might remember us from such establishments as...
Brianna Smith: The Summertown Aristologist, Supernormal Natsu, Rockpool Bar & Grill and Spice Temple.
Oliver Edwards: The Summertown Aristologist, Cumulus Inc and The Builders Arms Hotel.

We’ve been cooking for...
BS: 13 years, 11 of them in Victoria.
OE: 14 years, 12 of them in Victoria.

Our brief for this new gig is to make approachable food that nourishes not only the stomach, but the mind and soul, too. We’ve been given a pretty free reign of Hazel to achieve that. We’re bringing a strong DIY approach and a commitment to highlighting our community of small producers and practising sustainability.

And we’re passionate about making as much of what we serve as we possibly can, including sourdough bread, charcuterie, cheeses, pickles and ferments. We’re also passionate about where our ingredients come from, who is growing and catching them, and how. After spending a couple of years growing the food we cooked ourselves in the Adelaide Hills, we’re now invested in seeking out and supporting producers who are focused on the flavour of their products and ethics of what they do.

Which means we’ll be cooking things like halloumi made by us from Schulz milk; the cheese is pan-fried and served with fresh figs and basil. We’re also doing a calamari and mushroom dish where lightly blanched ribbons of Corner Inlet calamari are served with stunning woodfired and pickled mushrooms grown by John at Unearthed Mushroom Co. We dress these with our house shoyu, a six-month ferment made utilising the mushroom stalks and other offcuts from John’s farm that would otherwise go to waste.

We’d like you to come in and see us so you can sit up at the kitchen bar and watch us cooking on the wood fire while enjoying one of the excellent cocktails made by our bar manager Tom, which feature local spirits and many of his own ferments.

And if there’s one thing we don’t want you to leave without trying, it’s…
BS: Oliver’s housemade charcuterie. We get a whole pig from Bundarra Berkshire each week and Oliver and the team make it into all kinds of fun things: mortadella, ’nduja, lonza, salami. If you see any of those on the menu, it’s always worth ordering.
OE: The house-made bread and butter. At the moment we’re using a red wheat called Zanzibar that’s milled by James Fisher at Rock Paper Flour. It has a fantastic nutty flavour. We serve it with kefir-cultured butter that’s had the buttermilk whipped back into it so that it’s light, fluffy and tangy.

Book a table at Hazel now via hazelrestaurant.com.au. Want more? You can follow Bree and Oli’s adventures on Instagram at @breezasmith and @gfbf_oliver or follow Hazel @hazel_melbourne.

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