Since opening, the Firedoor steak continues to make headlines, recently named “The World’s Best Steak” by Australian food critic Rob Broadfield.
The creation of the 200+ day dry aged steak began with chef and owner, Lennox Hastie at odds by the typical grill restaurant. The majority of the menu at Firedoor comprises fish and vegetables, as it is there that there are the biggest variations on a daily basis that continue to challenge Hastie. However, he knew that if there was going to be one steak, it had to be a great one.
With the beef it wasn’t enough to simply take the best Australian steak and grill it. It had to be better. For Hastie it had to contend with the memory of Galician beef, which is forever imprinted on his palate from his time at Extebarri in the Basque country. “The beef in Spain is recognised as some of the best in the world, with rich old retired dairy cows producing incredibly developed grass-fed beef. Beef comes down to breed, feed and environment. Australia doesn’t have the Spanish breed rubia gallega, the culture of utilising older animals and the same pasture rich environment,” says Hastie.
Hastie wanted to produce a steak that would give him an emotional response, so he began working the farmers, the producers and the butchers to make the best of what we had available. For four years Hastie, the producers and Anthony Puharich from Vic’s Meat persevered, observed and learnt until they had something that was amazing.
The process involves a careful selection of the carcass that can only be determined following the slaughter of the animal. The fat from the kidneys is then rendered which is used to paint the ribs until they are sealed under a layer, before dry-aging on the bone for over 200 days depending on the size, marbling and the maturity.
Hastie and Puharich work with two producers to create the steak. Rangers Valley in Northern NSW who produces Angus cattle that are grain finished gradually for 270 days and O’Connor Beef in Gippsland Victoria who breed grass fed Hereford cross Angus cattle. Both produce very different expressions of the steak. In fact, no two animals are ever the same. Hastie finds it difficult to describe the flavour, “you need to experience the steak to really understand it, it’s not like any other piece of steak you’ve ever eaten”. Flavour profile ranges from intense umami meatiness through to old sherry and aged Parmesan.
For Hastie, the beautiful thing is that the process never ends, “It is something that we continue to learn and improve in partnership with the farmer, the producer and the butcher. It is an exceptional steak but it is much more than just me that brings it to the plate”.