Robert Azbajic is attracting crowds of hungry travellers with his spit roast pig and lamb kebabs. Photo: Matt Bedford
In the middle of an otherwise abandoned paddock east of Braidwood (halfway between Canberra and Bateman's Bay), a proud Croatian man in an Akubra is roasting meat for hordes of Canberrans headed to the south coast.
Robert Azbajic, the man behind the newly opened Spitshack store on Lonsdale Street in Braddon, said his countryside project on Kings Highway was a life's ambition to create the perfect meat.
"For me, this started as a hobby and a dream and now I want to be doing this full-time for the next 20 years," he said.
"I've cooked lamb and pork on a spit thousands and thousands of times in my life for someone else, but this is the first time for business."
Despite having minimal signage and no other buildings within sight, Mr Azbajic's meat store already has loyal support from local customers and people travelling though to the coast.
"It's a perfect location, with a safe entry, five acres of parking plus if you want to come with a boat or trailers it's very easy to stop and park out the front," he said.
With plenty of empty land to spare, Mr Azbajic intends to install a jumping castle during summer for children who need a break from the long drive to the coast.
Mr Azbajic, who has lived in Canberra for the past 25 years, said he first learned from his family in Croatia how to spit-roast meat, and he had been perfecting the craft ever since.
"First of all, my meat is fresh from Moruya abattoir and has never been frozen before - it's usually only a few days old when we cook it," he said.
"The quality of meat in this area is better than anywhere else because salt comes into the grass from the ocean, and lamb eating salty grass makes for better quality.
"The meat is cooked for nearly four hours while paying careful attention to how quickly it is cooked - too quick and the outside will burn and lose moisture while too slow will leave it dry."
On a busy day, the small shack, which can barely fit two people, sells more than 500 kebabs and will go through nine pork legs and two lambs.
"I use 80 per cent wood and 20 per cent charcoal when roasting the lamb and pork," he said.
"The charcoal helps keep the temperature while the wood brings the flavour out of the meat."
Mr Azbajic said his store was similar to the Spitshack operations in Braddon but kept to more traditional methods of cooking, with a wood fire in open spaces.