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Yes, Chef!

Yes, Chef!
Hey Rosey chef Hugh Piper. Photograph by Pip Farquharson.
Sophie Hansen
Sophie Hansen Orange, NSW
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Welcome to Yes, chef! A monthly newsletter in which food writer Sophie Hansen shines a light on our regional chefs. This week she talks with Orange-based chef Hugh Piper.

Have you heard of Hey Rosey? It's a wine bar in Orange, central west NSW, and from his “bench” kitchen there, head chef Hugh Piper makes bright, interesting food that hums with flavour, texture and heart.

A quick timeline. Before his move out west, 32-year-old Hugh was head chef at Dear Sainte Eloise, a small but mighty regarded wine bar in Sydney’s Potts Point. Hugh and his partner Zoe moved from Sydney to Orange two years ago. Hey Rosey has been open for just over 12 months; their daughter Sunny arrived five months ago. Last month, he served a dish of beef tongue to 1200 people at FORAGE, the progressive long lunch held every April in Orange as part of FOOD week.

OK. Now we're all caught up. Let's meet Hugh properly.

Hugh has form in, and love for, tiny kitchens. He believes having just a couple of burners and a slice of bench space forces the cook to be both inventive and produce-driven. "If I buy the best tomatoes, then I don't have to do so much to them,” he says.

In Orange, “there’s such proximity to your producers,” he says, “you can work with them on an instant, small scale. And that's a pretty awesome thing for a chef.”

Take Hey Rosey’s beef tartare, for example. It’s served with burnt eggplant, fermented chilli, soy, buckwheat, onion and baby cos. For this dish, Hugh works closely with Arden Farms, local, small-scale beef and pastured chicken farmers. “They only process small numbers of cattle, but when they do, they talk to us, we order the topside and put it in this dish.”

Hugh’s menu changes daily and is guided entirely by what’s good, on hand or who/what walks in the door. Maybe Greg from Block 11 Organics has put aside a few extra kilos of gherkin cucumbers for him. Perhaps Nana and Robbie, producers and mushroom foragers, have a basket of fresh, saffron milk caps to bring in. And speaking of Nana, the small-batch miso she makes here in Orange finds its way into many of Hugh’s dishes, especially the whipped miso butter, which I could happily live on. Nothing is wasted here, even leftover wine from the bar. This goes into the vinegar that Hugh and Zoe make under their Very Molto label. 

This is how we love to go out these days, don't you think? Plates of tasty food to share, interesting wine, fabulous tunes, soft lighting and the joy of being in the hands of industry experts who genuinely seem to care that you’re having a nice time.

I hope you have a nice time reading more about Hugh below, and when you’re next in the central west, swing by Hey Rosey. I might see you there.

Sophie xx

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Yes, Chef! with Hugh Piper

Where I cook

I'm the head chef of Hey Rosey, a hole-in-the-wall wine bar in Orange, NSW, with just 25-30 seats. We serve a mixture of local and international wine, cook food using the best local produce, and play music on vinyl. 

My wife, Zoe, and I moved to Orange from Sydney in January 2022. We followed in the footsteps of my brother, who moved out here five or six years ago. We'd been visiting the region for a while and loved it. It's a great place to be from a chef's point of view. Being surrounded by so much incredible produce is such a treat. And it's close enough to Sydney that we can still easily go and visit friends and other things that we miss about the big city. 

A recipe that takes me home

Being half Peruvian, there's nothing that quite tugs at my heartstrings like a proper Peruvian ceviche. Lime, coriander, chilli, red onion and top-quality fish are all that should be in a classic ceviche. It's the ultimate dish that balances acid, salt, and umami (in my humble opinion). My mum used to make a cheap and easy ceviche on summer weekends using tinned tuna and that combination of onion, chilli and lime always takes me back to lunch by the pool in wet boardshorts.

A recipe for joy

There's not much better in this world than a good roast chicken served with crunchy roast potatoes, some braised greens or maybe just a fresh salad. I think people forget how good a simple roast chook can be, if cooked with care and attention, using a good bird. The act of cooking a meal for someone, no matter how involved, complex or simple, is a beautiful way to show that you care.

An ingredient I'm excited about

I just received my first delivery of puntarelle from Greg and Michelle at Block 11 Organics. I adore bitter greens, and their puntarelle is pretty special. I'll be preparing it in the traditional Roman way, sliced very thinly and dressed with anchovy dressing. The local pine mushroom season is about to kick off, too.

A recipe I always turn to

A big bowl of pasta is always what I turn to when I feel like a big warm hug of a meal. One of my absolute favourite sauces is slow braised zucchini with lots of garlic. It's such a beautifully simple sauce that coaxes all the wonderful sweet and savoury flavours out of the zucchini. It can also be adapted to whatever leafy greens or brassicas you have on hand. It's at its best with fresh pasta but makes a relatively easy and quick meal with the packet stuff.

Gnocchetti sardi with braised zucchini 

Also known as malloreddus, this traditional Sardinian pasta recipe is what chef Hugh Piper turns to when he feels like "a big warm hug of a meal". Photograph by Sophie Hansen.

Serves four, with some leftovers


For the pasta

600g semolina flour

300ml tepid water

For the braised zucchini sauce

1 brown onion, diced

3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

3 or 4 medium-sized zucchini (just under 1kg)

1 tablespoon miso paste

1 teaspoon fermented chilli paste (or chopped fresh chilli to taste)

Good quality olive oil

Salt and pepper

Butter (optional)

Freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, to serve


In a large heavy-based pot over medium heat, heat a generous 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook gently until they soften.

Add the miso and chilli paste, stir and cook for another minute.

Roughly chop your zucchini (the smaller you chop the faster it cooks, but you don't want it to cook too fast. I like roughly 5cm cubes, to keep some chunks in the finished sauce).

Add the zucchini, herbs and greens (if using) to the pan, topping up with enough water so the vegetables are just covered. Bring to a gentle simmer and place a lid on the pot, leaving a small gap.

This sauce should take about 45 minutes to cook. It should bubble away nice and slowly, letting the vegetables break down into a chunky sauce.

While the sauce is cooking, make the pasta. Place the semolina in a mixing bowl or in a pile on a work surface and make a well.

Add the water then slowly incorporate the flour using a fork or your fingers.

Once a rough dough has formed, knead it for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with a tea towel or baking paper and rest for 30 minutes.

Once rested, cut the dough into six pieces. Working one portion at a time (keeping the others covered so they don't dry out), roll out into a long rope shape using your palms. It should be about 1-1.5cm thick. Don't use any extra flour at this stage, as you don't want to make the dough too dry.

Next, cut the rope into small rectangles about 1cm wide. To shape the gnocchetti, place a piece of the dough on a ridged gnocchi board or the back of a fork, pressing firmly with the side of your thumb, and roll it away from you. It should curl over and take on the ridges from the gnocchi board/fork. Dust with more semolina so they don't stick to each other. Repeat with the rest of the dough. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta for 2-3 minutes or until al dente, strain, reserving about half a cup of the pasta cooking water.

Taste your zucchini sauce and add some salt and a knob of butter if you feel like it needs it. 

Toss together the pasta, sauce and reserved cooking water and serve with plenty of grated parmesan or pecorino.

Thank you for joining us for this month's Yes, Chef!

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