Produce of Love
Terrines, rillettes and pates are the holy trinity to any occasion that celebrates conversation and clinking coupes. For Cameron and Murvet McKenzie, the duo behind local small-goods favourite Max and Delilah, the essence of these rustic dishes is simple—for people to enjoy each other's company. For centuries, food has catered to that bond.
Murvet waltzes in, glowing with enthusiasm. We meet at Wine By The Country, the testing grounds for Max and Delilah. “Cameron was dead set against food names for the company,” smiles Murvet, “Max and Delilah are our two cats. Delilah passed away two years ago but Max is still kicking around.”
Cameron stands tall, has an easy-going demeanour and a temperament that seems to prefer the back-of-house. Since he was 11 years old, he has been hanging around restaurants—earning his stripes as a kitchen hand in his Mum’s Red Hill restaurant, Johnny Come Lately. Cameron is softly spoken, earnest and humble, “I don't have a strict style, I don’t have that. I prefer to float around.”
Since graduating from his Mum’s tutelage, Cameron has juggled knives and pots at The European, The Stokehouse and The Supper Club among others, before making the tree-change with Murvet to Daylesford where they worked together at the prestigious Lakehouse Restaurant.
These days, Cameron handcrafts all the Max and Delilah products and works as head chef at the Passing Cloud’s dining room—while Murvet swoons the floor as manager.
“At home, it’s Cameron and our two cats. But we have a dining table that sits 12...we love entertaining,” Murvet’s Turkish roots give her a hospitable flare that illuminates the room, “It’s just good times over food and drink. That’s what makes me happy.” Murvet’s work sounds more like her passion, “It’s like inviting people into your home, ‘sit down, relax.’ I’m letting guests know, ‘It’s ok...I've got this.”
At Passing Clouds winery, Cameron likes to think the produce is the star of the show. But as he stands in front of the open “Prometheus” fire pit, one guest described his work as passionate ballet.
Cameron winces, “Cooking food for people is a very personal thing. You’re asking someone to spend a lot of money to sit down and eat your food. Eating is a personal thing too. There are so many different reactions, so it’s always satisfying when people say thanks. It makes it all worthwhile.”
The human touch really resonates in Max and Delilah’s products, the classic combinations of pork and apple, or duck and potato, convey a homely warmth that is both nostalgic and personal.
Together, Cameron and Murvet illustrate their philosophy in their practice; local produce that is organic and preservative-free. “Our Terrines are a bit different from a traditional sense. They’re pressed terrines, not cooked terrines. We roll them so they’re round, we don’t mould them in terrine moulds,” explains Cam with pride. “We’re never going to expand the business so much that we lose that process, everything will always be made by my hands. And it will always be preservative-free.”
The word around town has crowned Max and Delilah’s chicken liver paté a local legend. Before the paté is sealed for the shelf, the chicken liver is marinated with port wine for six hours and lightly pan-fried with onion, garlic and sage. The result evokes campagne elegance, melting in your mouth like a rich sunset.
As well as the paté, Max and Delilah offer four terrines, two rillettes and an assortment of preservatives. “Instead of having your meaty terrine with the accompaniment to the side, our products stand on their own,” Cameron doesn’t like to big-note his work, he believes the product should emphasize his oeuvre, “The corned beef is slow-cooked for hours, shredded down, before we add lots of sliced cornichons.” Murvet interrupts, “He made that for my mum. Mum’s Turkish, the Muslim side of the family doesn’t eat pork. But she really likes the chicken rillettes.”
Food has the power to drift beyond language, borders and cultures. Cameron and Murvet have managed to absorb that Daylesford spirit of inclusivity—into Max and Delilah's products, “I think the foundation of every culture is food. It brings people together. It creates conversation," Cameron looks into a fridge-full of his products by the counter, "and it’s nourishing.”
Max & Delilah - maxanddelilah.com.au
03 5348 4870 | 0449 542 472
Products are available for purchase from:
Archive Wine Bar - 140 High St, Geelong
The Cosmopolitan Hotel - 21 High St, Trentham
The Daylesford Hotel - 1 Bourke Square, Daylesford
Dos Deli - 2/97 Vincent St, Daylesford