15-17 November 2024
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

Mark Ebbels' Favourite Plant-Based Recipes for Home Cooks

Home is where the heart is, and for Melbourne’s Michelin-starred chef Mark Ebbels, this has never rung truer. Mark has journeyed far and wide, honing his culinary skills in some of the world’s most illustrious kitchens, yet it’s the vibrant, humble roots of Melbourne’s outer east that sparked his earliest food memories. As the former Head Chef at the esteemed TarraWarra Estate, Mark pioneered a plant-based revolution that combined creativity, sustainability, and local ingredients to create extraordinary culinary experiences.

In this post, we’ll delve into Mark’s favorite plant-based recipes, highlighting his commitment to seasonal and local produce, and explore the unique techniques that make his dishes stand out.

A Culinary Journey Rooted in Home

Mark’s culinary journey began on a carrot farm in Toolangi, where his love for fresh, local produce was first nurtured. “Lots and lots of carrots!” Mark quips, recalling his childhood. His early food memories are filled with family recipes, like his mum’s bean and ham soup with apple pancakes—a delightful dish from Heppenheim in Germany, where his mother’s family hails from.

Cooking was always a family affair, with Mark and his grandmothers often in the kitchen, creating dishes that brought everyone together. This foundation of home-cooked meals and local ingredients laid the groundwork for Mark’s exceptional culinary career.

Embracing Plant-Based Cuisine

While Mark’s professional journey took him to renowned kitchens like Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in London and Bacchanalia in Singapore, it was his return to Melbourne’s Yarra Valley that solidified his passion for plant-based cuisine. Inspired by friends and the wealth of information available, Mark shifted his diet to plant-based about nine years ago.

Yet, the transition wasn’t without its challenges. “I couldn’t really consider myself vegan because of what I was tasting every day at work,” Mark explains. However, his dedication to plant-based cooking flourished through ventures like The Circle Dining—a gourmet pop-up vegan dining experience that featured seasonal and local ingredients.

Innovative Techniques: Fermentation and Dehydration

Mark’s creative approach to plant-based cuisine is rooted in innovative techniques like fermentation and dehydration. These methods not only enhance the flavors and textures of the dishes but also align with his commitment to sustainability.

“Most of the time, a dish would start with an ingredient that is in season and good quality,” Mark shares. “However, sometimes it could start with a specific technique I’m interested in that is new to me that I want to play with.” This experimental spirit is evident in every dish he creates, offering diners a unique and memorable experience.

Sustainable Cooking at TarraWarra Estate

Mark’s previous role as Head Chef at TarraWarra Estate allowed him to bring his vision of sustainable, plant-based cuisine to life. The restaurant’s quarter-acre kitchen garden dictates the menu, ensuring that every dish is made with the freshest, most sustainable ingredients.

“I feel very lucky to be working at TarraWarra,” Mark says. “They’re very proud of the sustainability aspect of the business and management is a bit hands-off in a sense, letting me follow what I feel is right for the kitchen.” This freedom enabled Mark to introduce a variety of plant-based dishes that have been overwhelmingly well-received by diners.

Mark’s Favorite Plant-Based Recipes For Home Cooks

1. Fermented Carrot and Cashew Dip

  • Ingredients: Fresh carrots, roasted cashews, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
  • Instructions
    • Start by fermenting fresh carrots for a few days to develop a tangy, complex flavor profile. 
    • Once the carrots are ready, blend them with roasted cashews, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt until you achieve a smooth, creamy consistency. 
    • This dip is perfect for pairing with raw vegetables, crackers, or spreading on toast.

2. Dehydrated Beetroot Chips

  • Ingredients: Beetroots, olive oil, sea salt.
  • Instructions
    • Begin by washing and peeling fresh beetroots. 
    • Use a mandoline or sharp knife to slice the beetroots as thinly as possible. 
    • Toss the beet slices in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, ensuring each slice is evenly coated. 
    • Lay the slices out on a dehydrator tray or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
    • Dehydrate at a low temperature until the chips are crisp and crunchy. 
    • These vibrant beetroot chips are a nutritious and visually appealing snack that you can enjoy guilt-free.

3. Seasonal Vegetable Tart

  • Ingredients: Assorted seasonal vegetables, puff pastry, vegan cheese, herbs.
  • Instructions
    • Preheat your oven and roll out a sheet of puff pastry on a baking tray. 
    • Select an array of fresh, seasonal vegetables and slice them evenly. 
    • Arrange the vegetable slices in an attractive pattern on the puff pastry. 
    • Sprinkle the veggies with your favorite vegan cheese and a blend of fresh herbs. 
    • Bake the tart in the oven until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese has melted and bubbled. 
    • This seasonal vegetable tart is not only visually stunning but also a delicious way to showcase local produce. 
    • Serve it as a centerpiece for any meal, whether it’s brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Building a Community Through Food

Mark’s journey is a testament to the power of food in building connections and fostering a sense of community. His dedication to using local, seasonal ingredients not only supports sustainable practices but also brings people together to celebrate the bounty of nature.

By sharing his favorite plant-based recipes, Mark invites home cooks to explore the joys of seasonal cooking and experiment with new techniques. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, these recipes are designed to inspire creativity and bring the warmth of home-cooked meals to your table.

Join the Plant-Based Revolution

As you explore Mark Ebbels’ favorite plant-based recipes, we hope you feel inspired to try new ingredients, experiment with innovative techniques, and embrace the delicious possibilities of plant-based cuisine. Remember, cooking is not just about the food—it’s about the connections we make and the joy we share around the table.

Ready to embark on your own culinary adventure? Gather your ingredients, invite your loved ones, and let’s cook up some magic together. After all, home is where the heart is, and there’s no better way to bring people together than with a delicious meal.