Versatility is at the heart of cooking – something Ryan Dolan, the head chef at Broadsheet Kitchen’s three-month pop-up Cabale knows well. The Cairns-raised chef, who’s had stints in Michelin-starred restaurants, such as Christian Tetedoie in Lyon, was tasked to reimagine a simple dish that had the potential for limit-less possibility: beef steak. Which in Dolan’s hands translated to the classic surf n turf.

Dolan’s attraction to the pairing stems from its inherently multicultural flavour. “I guess I chose it because there are a few countries in the world that have a version of reef and beef,” he says.

“If you think about the Chinese version, it has stir-fried beef with oyster sauce and broccoli. If you look back in the day in the Victorian era, there’s beef and oyster pie. All these things stem from that, but I chose mine to be slightly French – but a little bit more Aussie in the flavours.”

At Broadsheet Kitchen, Dolan has taken his characteristic bistronomic approach, drawing from his experiences in Lyon. Using Gippsland-raised, pasture-fed beef and Sydney Rock Oysters from Bateman’s Bay, he’s created an innovative take on the steak tartare. “I chucked some horseradish and wasabi in there, because beef obviously really likes a bit of pepper,” he says.

“Then you smooth that out with the creaminess of the avocado. There’s an oyster emulsion that gives you that nice salinity – the umami that comes from the oyster itself – and you eat it all with an oyster lid.”

It’s important to Dolan he stays nimble; he detests the idea of being typecast as a chef. “I don’t vibe well with being pigeonholed into a particular cuisine,” he says. “If I feel like eating something Hungarian, and I cook it, it doesn’t mean that I’m a Hungarian chef. It’s just the way that I cook.”

Likewise, Dolan believes a cook needs to be flexible in order to be truly great. “You’ve got to be quick and adapt,” he says. “When it’s really market-based produce or when it’s intensely seasonal, sometimes you can swap things in and exchange them for another. But if the dish is really good, you’ll keep it and switch the garnish up, or change the technique for that particular protein or veg. And sometimes, through those small changes, you’ll discover something that really is a banger.”

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the Honda HR-V, designed to be as different as the people who drive it.

Broadsheet Kitchen is now open at 300 Smith Street, Collingwood. Reserve your table here.