Published on 24 August 2021
When Tom Sarafian makes his hummus, it takes three days of soaking, coaxing and whipping to achieve the remarkable smooth, creamy quality that sets it apart from just about any other hummus you’ve tried. But if you think three days sounds like a long time, just think about the years he’s spent getting there.
Sarafian has lately distinguished himself as one of Australia’s most promising kitchen talents. He has cooked with two of the most important names in Middle Eastern restaurants in Australia. He worked for Greg Malouf, a chef recognised as the Godfather of modern Middle Eastern cooking, at his landmark Melbourne restaurant Momo, and at Petersham Nurseries in London, where the food won a Michelin star. And he cooked with Joseph Abboud, working as head chef at Brunswick landmark Rumi, and then running the kitchen at Bar Saracen on Punch Lane. He also did time at two of London’s most influential restaurants, Sam and Sam Clark’s Moro, and at St John, the headquarters of pioneering nose-to-tail chef Fergus Henderson.
This impressive résumé, along with Sarafian’s Armenian heritage and a good dose of native talent, make for a formidable combination. His dishes at Bar Saracen were marked by a spirit of invention channelled through a great deal of research into Middle Eastern culinary traditions, and a keen understanding of making things look and taste great. Tom Sarafian, in short, knows what’s up.
Who better, then to shake things up in the dips section of your local deli cabinet? As a matter of fact, Sarafian would like to use his hummus to convince of the dish’s value beyond mere delicious dipping. In many Middle Eastern households and restaurants it’s a meal, often enriched with spiced minced lamb. At Saracen, it took a fancier turn still, and the version served there dressed with spanner crab and king prawns became a signature. Sarafian says it’s been a dream to bring restaurant-quality hummus to the market, and with Bar Saracen succumbing to the pandemic in January of this year, he thought the time was ripe.
What’s so great about this hummus? Premium ingredients for a start, some of them from Victoria, some of them (like the tahini) from trusted suppliers in Lebanon. Sarafian reckons these ingredients plus his hard-won technique give the hummus a flavour and freshness that make it unusually versatile. He suggests spreading it on toast for breakfast with eggs and tomatoes, topping it with minced lamb cooked with onions, herbs, spices and nuts fried in butter, putting it in your sandwich, serving a big dollop with steak and chips or next to barbecued vegetables and seafood, or just eating it from the jar with a spoon (hello!).
Sarafian Hummus makes its debut on shelves in Melbourne this Friday, 27 August, at Baker Bleu, Meatsmith, Morning Market, and the Northcote HQ of All Are Welcome.
How good can hummus be, anyway? Grab a jar of Sarafian’s finest and find out for yourself. “It’s not just a dip,” he says, “It’s life.”
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