32 High Street, Glen Iris, VIC
03 9885 4869
For Jason Aitken, the challenge to overcome fear of change was undoubtedly strong as he launched his Mediterranean restaurant in Glen Iris. The entrepreneurial chef was attempting to replace a neighbourhood stalwart of 30 years, which certainly brought with it a palpable level of angst. He purchased the business in mid-2010 and aimed to renovate the entire business and offer the neighbourhood something a bit different. Perrin's, which his new venue was previously called, focused on French cuisine and had built up a reputation that spanned three decades. But Jason was not interested in carrying on the torch.
Rather, he chartered a new course into modern Mediterranean cuisine. The impetus to launch his new restaurant came from 25 years of experience in the kitchens of Melbourne. He cut his proverbial teeth as an apprentice chef at the Melbourne Catch, where he developed the skills and passion for the culinary field. He parlayed that experience into part-ownership at the Kent Hotel and Cellini’s before establishing Preserve Kitchen. He also went straight to the source to improve his skills.
Aiming for a comprehensive knowledge of Italian cuisine, Jason travelled to the Central Italy province of Umbria to embrace the traditions and techniques of the lengthy culinary history there. Those lessons learned in the Mediterranean followed him back to Preserve and now are apparent on the menu. Classic modern Italian items such as Calamari, Tagliatelle, and Linguini are surrounded by other regional cuisine, such as the Mezedes plate, Suma Spiced Quail and the Spanish Seafood Risotto.
But there is also a blend of contemporary and tradition in the menu, which is inevitable with change. One example is the South Australian Kangaroo Loin, which is seared and accompanied by beetroot risotto, sautéed spinach, and lemon yogurt. Jason seems keen on sourcing local products and transforming them with a Mediterranean flair. Another is the Kingfish Carpaccio where the local fish replaces the traditional beef, and horseradish dressing and Yarra Valley caviar takes the place of the classic pairing of Dijon mustard. Indeed, Jason seems to have a comprehension of the availability of excellent local ingredients.
“I strongly believe in supporting the Australian local market and always encourage my staff to do the same,” states the veteran chef. “Where possible I always use local produce, fruit, veggies and meat, just to name a few.”