Culinary journeys with Ethan Flack: From Southland fields to Michelin stars
Food & Fibre
Food & Fibre

Culinary journeys with Ethan Flack: From Southland fields to Michelin stars

It's not every day you get to talk to a Michelin star chef but at National Lamb Day, celebrated at the Southern Field Days, Southland-born and bred Michelin star chef Ethan Flack describes his approach to cooking as an homage to the producers of his region. 

He speaks about the significance of local Southland wheat, exemplified by his lamb flatbread, which becomes a canvas for storytelling about the land and the farmers who nurture it. 

"I think the biggest thing we can do is showcase our producers through the plate of food," Ethan says, underscoring the narrative behind each dish. 

Flack's story weaves through his early training in Queenstown, his international experience in Michelin-starred kitchens, and his return home to champion Southland's produce. The conversation delves into the interactive dining experiences he offers, where he aims to educate and engage diners in the provenance of their meals. 

"I sit 10 people around it and it's quite interactive. I cook in front of people where they eat and share that story of the producers hands-on." 

Flack touches on the familial aspect of his culinary ventures, particularly his experience working with Tommy Banks and their shared ethos of farm-to-table dining. He recounts his progression to becoming an Executive Chef and the inception of a food box service in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Emphasising mentorship and skills transfer, he says, "I think when you're in those sort of positions you're inspiring these young kids to keep doing it but also teaching them the tricks." 

Reflecting on his roots and his philosophy, Flack provides insights into the sustainability and community support that are central to his approach. He argues for the importance of supporting local communities and fostering a closed-loop system that benefits both the region and the environment. 

Despite the pressures and the long hours typically associated with the industry, Flack's dedication to his craft and his commitment to his community shine through, illustrating the rewards of hard work and vision. 

"Travel was key, it made me as a person," he advises aspiring chefs, advocating for the enriching experience of travel and the importance of learning from esteemed mentors. 

The conversation paints a portrait of a chef deeply connected to his heritage, yet innovative in his methods—a chef who, through every dish, shares a piece of his journey and the spirit of Southland.

Listen to the full chat between Ethan Flack and Dominic George above.

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