Ethically-sourced meats and an emphasis on retaining the native flavour of food inspire chef

New Dining venue: Lost Ones Basement Bar owner Stephen Piggott with chef Arlo Lawrence. The food will feature ethically-sourced produce. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

New Dining venue: Lost Ones Basement Bar owner Stephen Piggott with chef Arlo Lawrence. The food will feature ethically-sourced produce. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

Ballarat’s Lost Ones Basement Bar has added another enticement to its underground offerings with the creation of a new kitchen – and a brilliant new chef.

Owner Stephen Piggott says the former masonic lodge’s kitchen had sat idle for over 50 years before undergoing a refit recently.

“Its small, but it’s functional,” says Piggott.

“We had always intended to do food here, food that we liked ourselves, a mixture of European and Middle Eastern. Then we met Arlo and started throwing dishes at each other – not literally – about what we like to eat and the food we like to cook.”

Chef Arlo Lawrence ran the Fitzroy institution Ici, a trendsetter in Melbourne’s inner north café scene. At Ici he introduced breakfast panacotta to Melbourne, and brought shakshuka to Australia following a trip backpacking around Middle East and Asia. He beat Stephanie Alexander in Broadsheet’s Melbourne’s Best Porridge competition two years running.

He was mentored by Julian Thomas, ex-head pastry chef at Melbourne’s Sofitel, who also mentored Shannon Bennett and George Calombaris He was also mentored by Mal Williams of Queen of the South fame. 

“I’ve done a lot of traditional European cooking,” says Lawrence, 30.

“I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel. I was 15 or 16 when I first walked into a kitchen. What I like is your classic wine bar: everything done in-house; lots of curing, pickling, preserving; getting the best quality ingredients and using them for what they are.”

Lawrence says all the meats he will be using are ethically farmed, sourced through Gamekeepers of Australia, and can be traced back to their paddock of origin.

Lost Ones will offer food starting Wednesday night, from 6pm to 9pm. An extensive menu includes spiced lamb with smoked eggplant, sherry-braised pork jowl with cauliflower.