Kitchen spy: Chef Morgan McGlone of Belles Hot Chicken

Morgan McGlone.
Morgan McGlone. Photo: Edwina Pickles

It's hard to imagine how Morgan McGlone​ has packed so much into just 41 years. He's worked in Paris for Pierre Gagnaire​, been head chef at Husk in South Carolina, where he perfected fried chicken, as well as managing fashion models in New York and Paris, Miranda Kerr among them. Along the way he's become fluent in French, Spanish and Portuguese and still has a keen interest in fashion. Building on the success of Belle's Hot Chicken in Fitzroy he's recently opened another branch in Sydney's Barangaroo, dividing his time between the two. We met him in his Sydney apartment.

The staples

My pantry: There's always tinned fish, nothing fancy, for late-night snacks on toast. I like King Oscar sardines in brine so you can mix them with whatever you like, a bit of chopped onion or whatever. I'm really jazzed about Cobs popcorn, especially cheddar cheese flavour. If I start the day with Nutri-Grain I feel like Trevor Hendy for the rest of the day. I know it's high in sugar but I think if you don't add sugar it kind of evens out. I cook with butter, grapeseed oil or Crisco and like Cornwell's apple cider vinegar. I love Matt Wilkinson's ploughman's pickle, especially on Iggy's bread with butter and some sort of cold cut, like mortadella.

Fried chicken pioneer Morgan McGlone is happy with his open kitchen so he talk and cook at the same time.
Fried chicken pioneer Morgan McGlone is happy with his open kitchen so he talk and cook at the same time. Photo: Edwina Pickles

My fridge: Lescure butter. I love French butter – I lived in Paris for four years – and I just love it on toast. Mainland Gouda cheese is really good in cheese on toast.

I'm cooking

Last dinner at home

I braised beef cheeks with a typical daube de boeuf recipe. Marinated them in beaujolais, next day sealed them off, took them out, reduced the wine with mirepoix, added some veal stock, put them back in the pot and braised them for five hours. You have to keep basting them and they get this really nice gloss and you don't need a massive amount of sauce. I served them with cauliflower puree.

Secret vice

I'm originally from New Zealand even though I grew up in Australia, so I always have Whittaker's slab bars on deck. Honey Nut Crunch is a really good flavour but my favourite is Coconut. Every Kiwi has these.

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I'm drinking

Twinings Earl Grey teabags are the best. I don't have Fortnum & Mason and other kinds, I like Twinings and PG Tips. Heirs & Graces kombucha isn't as acidic as other brands and starts with good quality tea. I gravitate towards natural wines because I don't want to wake up with the headaches any more. I'm always drinking Melbourne Moonshine with a shot of kombucha or grapefruit juice.

My toolkit

I like the Breville spice grinder because you can choose how fine or coarse you want the spices. My fried chicken is built on spice so I use this constantly. My Cayson Designs apron from Husk in South Carolina is great. You don't want to get dirty and this is a big apron. I just love this peeler, it's efficient and it's easy to wash.

Favourite

My Glestain Japanese knives. Because I'm left handed I have to have them specially made so the dimpled design works properly.

Inspiration

Chef's Club NYC is like a restaurant residency for chefs, some famous, some not, and there's a website where you can read about everything being cooked there and who's cooking. chefsclub.com . I also love Heritage, a cookbook by my old boss from Husk, Sean Brady. It's all southern American food.

Kitchen highlight

It's really cool having this open bar so we can talk while I'm cooking.

Food discovery

Yasa caviar. I've always loved caviar but I really love the bead size of this stuff. I grew up in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney, so I really shouldn't have these silver-spoon tastes.

Most memorable meal

My fiancee and I were in Japan and Dan Hunter from Brae invited us to go with him and his wife to Matsukawa, an invitation-only restaurant in Tokyo. It's only eight seats and I was just blown away by the technique and simplicity of this kaiseki meal. There were soba noodles in an ice cup but inside them was this incredible dashi. They used the tendrils from under lily pads in that dish. At the end they brought out all these beautiful ingredients including unpasteurised salmon eggs for a make-your-own-rice dish, and you could have as much as you want.