Australian chef Mark Best is featured in issue #1 of Swill magazine, out October 6. Pre-order here.
Chef Mark Best has dissected a rooster with alarming surgical precision. He takes the spine, and gizzards, clips the scratchers off the feet, removes the head and slices off the cockscomb in one smooth movement. “That’s how easy scalping is.”
He describes butchering a rooster much the same as one might imagine butchering a person. “Don’t do any of the hard work or destroy your knife by chopping through the bones themselves. Just find where the joint is and just basically cut through the soft cartilage and the tendons. That way you’ll stop bone splinters as well.”
He runs his knife through the leg to show the red interiors – a clean cut by someone that has done it so many times it doesn’t do to put a number on it.
Restaurant-loving Sydneysiders will most likely know Mark Best from his highly awarded yet highly divisive restaurant, Marque, which ran from 1999 to midway through 2016 serving a tasting menu that would often take diners from raptures of joy to horror, all in the space of a few courses. Whatever reaction that menu inspired, it was always on his terms. That was his art.
The risk-taking, rule breaking and curb-dodging made him a force to be reckoned with. In lesser hands, that kind of doggedness might burn hot, make a few headlines, then sputter into submission. But submissive is not a word you associate with Mark Best.
Since closing Marque and the resulting period of self-reflection that goes with ending such a long and public chapter of his life, Best is concentrating on the thing that’s always brought him the most amount of pleasure: teaching. “The through-line to my entire career has been education,” he says. “The best result for everyone is to share.When you wall yourself off to knowledge by protecting your own, it’s a furry victory.”
“Knowledge is still the driving force behind everything I do. When I take something on, I always want to do the very best I possibly can,” he says. “And that’s nothing to do with age or the times, it’s just who I am. That’s what used to drive all the kids that worked for me crazy. As I was challenging myself, I was challenging them, asking them the big questions.”