I recently reached out to Mitch Orr of ACME for The Luxe Nomad, asking him about how he stays inspired and to learn more about how his signature macaroni is made. He came back to me with an essay – which I couldn’t fit into the 200-word The Luxe Nomad piece. So I felt compelled to throw his leftover words into a blog post.
What excites me to this day is ACME’s ever-changing menu. When I see a new dish popping up on my Instagram feed, the FOMO in me perks up.
But other than trying the newbies at ACME, I always order the macaroni with pig’s head – without fail. Taking inspiration from Filipino sisig, the macaroni is ridiculously tasty. From the heat of chilli and the glossiness of egg yolk to the al dente bite of fresh macaroni, it’s always a winner.
“The first time I had sisig was actually in NYC, at a restaurant in the LES call Marahalika. I knew as soon as I tasted that dish it would be incredible with pasta. I sat on the idea for a few years, wanting to save it for my own restaurant. So when we opened acme it was the first dish I had down on the menu,” Mitch explains.
Beyond the incredible macaroni, a simple ‘how do you stay inspired’ question I posed, resulted in a very thoughtful response. The constantly changing menu at ACME means staying inspired is a necessity. At the most basic level, the team draws inspiration from the ingredients that are in season and at their peak. But it’s also kitchen restrictions, complacency, and traveling that drive change.
“We try and stay ahead of ourselves, meaning when something is going out of season, we have a dish lined up to replace it,” Mitch explains.
“Boredom is another factor. If I get bored of seeing a dish on the pass or I can sense the chefs are getting bored of preparing and cooking the dish we’ll change it. Following on from that, complacency. I don’t want my chefs and floor staff to become complacent in what they’re cooking and serving. By keeping the menu evolving, everyone stays on their toes and remains stimulated and engaged…”
“The enjoyment of preparing and cooking something is a big factor too. If we create a dish and it’s an absolute ball ache to prep and no fun to cook in service, we’ll change it pretty quickly. The restrictions of our kitchen also play a role. Sometimes we fall into the trap of being too reliant on one piece of equipment during service, the deep fryer or the charcoal grill, for example. So we need to change dishes to create a more even spread, aiming to ensure service is fluid.”
“Eating and traveling also obviously help. Allowing your mind to be free of the day to day grind when you travel opens up the creative channels. Tasting new flavours, seeing ingredients prepared in new ways and seeing new techniques all get the juices flowing. Even eating old favourites, especially for us, as we like to play on nostalgia and rework classic flavours or some of our favourite dishes.”
That’s a lot. And I mean that in a good way. Because to me, it seems like Mitch is almost mocking us sometimes – I mean, there’s Jatz on the menu for god’s sake. I’m into it, though. Maybe it’s my cynical, sarcastic nature, but there’s something hilariously great about plating up supermarket crackers and Baloney sandwiches at a nice restaurant.
It’s this meeting of deeper consideration, technical ability, and tongue-in-cheek, not-giving-a-fuck attitude that keeps me coming back.
A few images from my most recent ACME visit are below.
60 Bayswater Rd, Rushcutters Bay