Q&A: Joe Dean – Head Chef at Hoo Haa

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Q&A: Joe Dean – Head Chef at Hoo Haa


What do you think about Melbourne’s restaurant scene?

Melbourne’s restaurant scene seems to be ever-evolving. Coming from Sydney it always amazes me at the diverse range of cultures and the influences that they have on the restaurant scene. I love venturing out to the city and trying people’s new spin on [classic] dishes.

What’s the concept behind the menu at Hoo Haa?

Modern Australian cuisine with a European influence. The food is good, honest and humble.

Never been to Hoo Haa before….what should I pick?

During the week you can’t go wrong with a $15 meal (Tuesday – pasta and wine, Wednesday – Superparma, Thursday – steak), however I always recommend to friends a few smaller plates and one of our mains dishes. I love the cumin-roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate, seeds and yoghurt or the pan-fried squid with spiced chickpeas, chorizo and basil. Probably the most popular dish is the wet-roasted lamb shoulder with white wine and red capsicum served on a semolina cake.

Who or what inspires you when you are creating a new dish?

The customers. I always try to talk with our regulars and get their feedback on dishes. I love hearing about people and their travels and the culinary experiences they have had. It may not be right for this menu but I may be able to incorporate it in the next. I think people get a real kick out of coming in and seeing their influence on the venue.

Almost into the festive season…what’s your favourite X-mas dish?

Honey-glazed gam! Yum yum yum.

Go on – name one thing that avocado doesn’t taste good with?

VB – Victoria Bitter

Three ingredients you can not live without?

Vegemite, avocado and VB? – I love fresh house made pasta, cumin and fresh herbs.

Finally sum up the dining experience at Hoo Haa in three words??

Fresh, filling and fun.