Meet the Chef: Misha Laurent, 8Things Katoomba and Leura Dumplings

 

image0_8.48.51_am.jpegEuropean born and trained Misha Laurent has been at the helm of iconic Blue Mountains restaurants since 2010, when he was head chef at Leura Garage. Six years ago, he opened 8Things in Katoomba, its ‘street food’ ethos resonating with locals and visitors alike. He has also recently opened Leura Dumplings with his partner Ana, an exciting new option for casual dining in Leura.

 What’s the story behind the 8 Things menu?

Reading about celebrity chefs, I noticed their stories were about travelling to different countries in their early years, finally returning “home” to open a restaurant to showcase their heritage with their acquired techniques. I do not have a place I call “home” - my heritage is German and Hungarian, born in France, raised between France, Germany and Switzerland. What would be my story? It came to me that I should curate my travels instead of focusing on where I was from.

How did you settle on your eight menu items?

I had to find a thread that would connect different dishes from around the world without it coming across confused. Street food was the key, and so over the first three years I trialled several dishes until finding the right balance. A small menu is quite tricky as you need enough variety for everyone, including Gluten free and vegetarian options. For the past two years we have been running what I call ‘the ultimate 8’ - we stick to those as regular customers would be disappointed not to find the dish they’ve been craving all week.

How important is using local produce in your cuisine?

We work with local businesses as much as possible; the beef for the NYC cheese burger is minced and prepared by hand to our specifications by Leura Butchery, and we purchase fresh vegetables from the Fruit House in Faulconbridge.

Why did you start your 8Things food truck?

We started the food truck in late 2019, and in 2021 started operating once a month in towns like Blackheath and Valley Heights – it was great to serve takeaway meals to locals in their neighbourhoods. It also allowed us to partner with businesses like Brew Mountain - small local businesses supporting each other is part of what helped us get through the COVID period. We are currently adding to our list of regular sites in partnership with other businesses like Lawson Bowling Club.

Why did you decide on opening a dumpling restaurant in Leura?

My wife Ana and I felt that Leura needed something new, affordable and delicious.

Dumplings is just one of the chapters in our book. We serve a variety of different Asian dishes like Hainanese chicken rice, Tan Tan Men Ramen, and Spicy Noodles. We are overwhelmed by the positive response from locals - we would not be here today without their support! Visitors to the area regularly compliment us on the quality of the food and service.

Any special events coming up?

Our next event at Leura Dumplings is a tasting night with Reckless Brewery from Bathurst, serving an “off menu” selection while the team from Reckless showcases their range. Our 8Things trailer will be rolling out to more events and locations. In late March we will be working with the team at Echo Point Motel & Village, serving from their lawn and enjoying that spectacular view! Something else important to us is supporting local community. We have been fortunate to be able to partner with local charities to share our food with people in the community who need support. Not everyone can afford to dine out, some even struggle to purchase basic groceries. Helping each other in some small way is part of what makes us a community.

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