Not just a One Trick Pony
Renowned for his high quality take on American barbecue, Chris Terlikar is now getting his creative juices flowing with the opening of his fine dining restaurant, One Trick Pony, in North Fitzroy, Melbourne.
With a smaller capacity for a more exclusive feel, the restaurant is a step away from Chris’ barbecue-based eaterie, Blue Bonnet. One Trick Pony is Chris’ new passion business offering classic, unique dishes and a more intimate dining experience. Mouth-watering menu highlights include Fraser Island spanner crab with dashi custard and saltbush and cured Tasmanian seatrout with horseradish, cannoli and catafi pastry.
“With the new place, I’ve got much more time to be creative and have the luxury of working with different ingredients to come up with new ideas,” he says. “I’m absolutely loving it.”
Chris now has the best of both worlds and is excited about both – the fine dining that gives a channel for being creative and experimental, while the barbecue are all about the classic, rich meat dishes that go down a treat.
Blue Bonnet was Chris’ first establishment around 10 years ago, set up at a time when there were few restaurants specialising in American barbecue. Over time, it’s become a hit with both locals and visitors. The most popular dishes at Blue Bonnet are the beef brisket, which is smoked for 12 hours and marinated in a Texan barbecue rub with kosher salt, American mustard and apple juice. There is also the choice of both lamb and hog sausages, made from scratch.
“If we have leftovers, we use the meat to make a one-off batch of something special customers can take advantage of the next day, such as brisket croquettes with manchego cheese,” says Chris. His team has also just started working with the world’s first carbon-neutral meat supplier, Flinders and Co.
“All of their meat is free-range and the animals are grass-fed, and we’re pleased to be working with them, helping the environment,” said Chris.
Chris took time out in his 20s and spent time travelling, starting with Austin, Texas, where at the time Franklyn Barbecue had won recognition for being the best of its kind in Texas.
“Austin was a trendy place at the time, with lots of places to get barbecued food.” Chris worked in Texas for some time and worked alongside barbecue chef and owner of Micklethwait Craft Meats, Tom Micklethwait. He then continued his travels over to Canada and London, where he worked at The Chancery for a couple of years.
Chris also worked on the SuperYachts in Southern France and Turkey. His experience has given him all-round experience, but also helped him hone in on his expertise in the fine dining sector.
Chris enjoyed American barbecue cuisine so much that on his return, he decided to bring the flavours of American barbecue to Melbourne. While there was plenty of focus around Australian barbecuing at the time, there were few establishments providing classic American barbecue, where meat is cooked indirectly away from an open flame of 100 degrees and cooked over a long period of time.
Technology and Staff
With running two businesses, Chris has felt the need for new technology and other ways of ensuring staff have work satisfaction.
“It’s been hard for the industry generally to find and keep staff, so it’s important to make sure they get paid well, because the industry’s not known for that,” said Chris.
The government change to the starting salary has made a big difference, says Chris. With the starting wage around $45,000, it has helped with recruitment and Chris now has apprentices working on his team.
To help with streamlining daily operations and analysing marketing efforts, Chris invested in new technology, Lightspeed Restaurant. This has helped the team gain access to real-time insights to help understand and analyse his business in terms of customers, staff, income and profit.
“Rather than using different systems, we’ve combined everything on one.
We’re passionate about our craft and our customers, and with this tech, it means we spend less time on admin and more time delivering the experiences that bring people together.”
“It has enabled us to spend more time crafting beautiful dishes and experiences for our customers, while the tech runs the business in the background.”