5 mins with Michael Bacash

Name: Michael Bacash
Business and location: Bacash, South Yarra, Melbourne

Can you share a happy fish and chip memory?
We have a boat shed at Mount Martha, so my earliest fish and chip memory as a child is going out and catching flathead. We had a little gas burner in the boatshed, and with my father we’d fillet the fish, put them in a bowl, put a couple of eggs on top, put some flour on them, pour a can of beer in and mix it all around, then into a frypan in oil, and cook some chips to go with them.

That’s my earliest memory of cooking and eating fish – in a boatshed, two hours after it was caught. That’s what the standard freshness of fish is for me, that’s what my understanding of fish is always based around.

In your business, how do you cook your fish and chips?
We serve most of our fish plain grilled on the hotplate, and served with French fries. We like the fish to be the hero, and the reason why people come to the restaurant.

What seems to be your customers’ favourite fish choice?

King George Whiting, John Dory, Rock Flathead and New Zealand Yellowbelly Flounder.

What is your personal favourite fish?
Garfish – it’s just a great fish.
We bone it, folding it over on itself, cover it in butter and then parmesan and breadcrumbs, and bake it in the oven. Not very long, just until the crumbs are cooked. So you get a crumby parmesan crust, and underneath is a sweet, moist, fresh garfish.

That’s served with a little salad of frisee, cherry tomatoes and Spanish onion, with house dressing.

Do you have a favourite condiment?
There’s got to be a couple of condiments for people to have with their fish and chips.
We’ve settled on the classic tartare and a spicy tomato chutney, both house made. The chutney has lots of chilli and coriander, fennel seeds and clove.

What Australian wine (or other beverage) would you match with your fish and chips?
A crisp white white and any beer, really. It’s a flexible dish.

How long have you been making/serving fish and chips?
I’ve been making fish and chips commercially for 30 years.

My restaurant before Bacash was called Toofey’s, which The Age Good Food Guide said was the best seafood restaurant in Melbourne for 10 years.