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CargoCrew
CargoCrew
12 June 2024

The Dinner Series: Nights with friends, Arlo Communal

The Dinner Series is evenings spent in the homes of the makers, artists, and cooks who inspire us. Together, we explore the touchstones for magical moments - thoughtful design, and beautiful food.

Cal, Tobi and Miles are obsessed with intimate dinners. With Arlo Communal, the three friends take their passion to tables across the globe, from Sydney's Cafe Fredas to Sicily’s Casa Lawa. A dinner with Arlo is all about celebrating seasonal produce, thoughtful design and participating in a space where you can be wholly yourself. 

We chatted to Tobi about cooking as a reflection of who you are and how to let this guide you when cooking for people you love. We’ve also got our hands on Tobi’s Spiced Chicken recipe, jump to it here.

Where do you start when planning a menu? What’s the secret to bringing it all together?

I always start with what is inspiring me at the moment and what my body is craving. I go to the markets, fishmongers and butchers and see what is vibrant and stands out. I start to engage with the product and am diligent, keeping a clear eye on what is beautiful.

What I always seem to find key to the overall menu is balance, think freshness, textures and colours. My real secret however, is not to overcomplicate things - keep it simple and tight. For our dinner we cooked with Mediterranean influence. Chicken seasoned nicely with spices and glazed with honey, simple fresh fennel salad, marinated peppers and chickpeas, green and yoghurt sauce and some garlic toast to soak everything up.

Choose your inspiration and go ahead with confidence and an open-hearted spirit!

For people wanting to get into cooking professionally, what’s your advice?

Choose a restaurant you are fond of. A restaurant that provokes delight and curiosity. Start early in your process to which ‘style’ stands out to you and follow restaurants in a similar light. Send them your resume or walk in with a smile.

Restaurants especially are looking for keen cooks, experience isn’t a must. Once you have secured the job, cook with an open mind, listen to the chef, don’t be afraid to make errors, ask questions, be inspired, be bold and most importantly have a long term plan to push you through moments of turmoil and pressure.

Where do you draw inspiration from both inside and outside food?

I draw inspiration from nature, what is ripe, flourishing and appetising at the moment at the markets. I draw inspiration from my loved ones, my family and how and what we ate growing up (lots of vegetables and clean and direct flavours), my girlfriend and how she navigates the world with freshness and vibrancy, and my friends who are reaching for the stars and chasing their goals with elegance and kindness. I draw inspiration from the divine too, letting room for moments I did not know existed to pass through and inspire me.

What are the key ingredients for a great experience for your guests?

What I would encourage to seek out if you are looking to host a great dinner party are these key elements, the best quality produce, a menu that is a reflection of what you like to eat and drink, a list of people who are open minded and like new experiences, tasteful music, refined production - lots of flowers and inspired colours and most importantly, relax - know it's going to be okay (even if it's not). What the guests love seeing the most is that the host is in control and enjoying themselves.

Tobi's recipe for spiced chicken with yoghurt sauce, fennel & honey

Ingredients for the chicken and honey glaze:

1 whole free-range chicken, spatchcocked

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher (fine) salt to taste

100g good quality runny honey

60g good quality sherry vinegar

Ingredients for the spice mix:

20g coriander seeds

30g fennel seeds

2 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp black peppercorns

1 tsp chile flakes

1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon

Ingredients for the yoghurt sauce:

200g greek yoghurt

1 garlic clove, grated

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 rasps lemon zest

2 tbsp lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the fennel salad:

1 bulb fennel

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 rasps of lemon zest

1 tsp good quality (sweet) chardonnay vinegar 

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

First make your spice mix by blending the spices in a grinder or mortar and pestle. The mix should be chunky and textured with split coriander and fennel seeds showing. Place in a bowl and set aside. Make your honey-vinegar glaze next by combining the honey and vinegar in a mixing bowl and whisking together. Set aside with a brush or place in a squeeze bottle.

Next take your chicken out of the fridge to temper and season with olive oil, salt and the spice mix. Rub in the mix over the whole surface of the chicken. You can let it marinate overnight but a couple hours will also do.

Set your oven to 180°C and place your seasoned chicken on a baking tray lined with a wire rack. While the oven is coming up to temperature make your yoghurt sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. You could also add some herbs (parsley, mint, dill, coriander) if you wish too. Make sure to taste the seasoning. Set aside in the fridge for later. 

Next, roast your chicken skin side up for 40 minutes. Turn up the oven temperature to 220°C for 10 minutes and glaze the chicken with honey vinegar mixture. Take out the chicken once the internal temperature of the breast is approximately 72°C and the spices and honey are nicely roasted and smelling fragrant. Let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes.

While the chicken is resting, whip up the fennel salad. Shave the fennel with a mandolin and season with the ingredients listed. Gently mix it together and put in your serving bowl.

To finish, carve the chicken and serve family style with yoghurt, fennel and bread on the side. Enjoy!