12 November 2022

Five minutes with Sebastian Beard, Larry's

| Dione David
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Man in bar

Sebastian Beard is the owner, manager and barista at Larry’s. Photo: Sebastian Beard.

Who is Sebastian Beard? I’m the owner, manager and barista at Larry’s cafe in Wagga.

Best recent dining experience: We recently managed to sneak away to Beechworth and every time we do, we love to go to Provenance, which is a gorgeous hatted restaurant there. They do a sort of degustation of little share plates and morsels and they’ve started delving into ferments and crafting their own vermouths and aperitifs. It’s fascinating and exciting.

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Favourite cuisine: It would have to be French.

Most embarrassing pantry or fridge item: I’d probably have to say hot sauce – I love my hot sauce and use too much of it on everything.

What ingredient can I not live without: Butter. I cook with it all the time.

A radish salad and lamb chop

Sebastian describes the food philosophy at Larry’s as simple, with a touch of fancy. Pictured: a seasonal salad with a side lamb cutlet. Photo: Larry’s.

Favourite place for lunch in the Riverina: Berambola. It’s a winery so it’s more little cheese plates and so forth, but the setting is just gorgeous.

My go-to coffee spot in the Riverina: Larry’s, of course!

Next big thing on the Wagga food scene: Hopefully ferments. Rene Redzepi really took that to the next level at Noma. I haven’t seen it much yet in the Riverina but I think it’s a matter of time before someone here follows suit.

Matcha latte

The Matcha at Larry’s is a delicious alternative to coffee. Photo: Larry’s.

A must-try on our menu: We have a fancy sausage sandwich on the menu at the moment, using a smoked beef thyme sausage with caramelised onion, chilli relish from Morella Grove, cos and tomato. It’s really simple but just a little bit fancy, which is how we try to describe ourselves as well.

Biggest culinary influence: Marco Pierre White – he’s largely credited with taking classic French techniques and executing them with a modern food philosophy. He also runs his kitchen with an iron fist, which I find impressive.

Favourite cookbook: Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion – it’s the kitchen bible.

Grilled salmon

Grilled salmon with slaw and broccolini and the green cold-pressed juice. Photo: Larry’s.

Who I admire in the Riverina food and wine scene: I’d say the Brown Brothers wine producers, largely because they’ve got so much pedigree in the Australian wine scene but also because they’re really doing their own thing. The number of varietals they feature is pretty impressive and particularly the wines of the Patricia range, named after their matriarch, are exceptional examples of those varietals.

What’s the special of the week at Larry’s: An Eton mess. I get many of my cakes from a supplier in Melbourne and they’re always convincing me to buy their fancier cakes. But when they arrive, I often open the box to find a disaster. Every time that happens we put up an Eton mess to salvage the carnage. I like that sort of food philosophy.

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Death-row meal: It would probably have to be boeuf bourguignon.

My least favourite food: Prawns. It’s funny, I love scampi, crab and bugs but I just can’t get behind prawns. My partner loves them, though, so more for her!

My favourite vegetable: Eggplant.

Bacon and egg roll

Customers can make the bacon and egg roll a little fancy with rocket. Photo: Larry’s.

COVID-19 response: I was down in Melbourne when COVID hit. As someone who’d been a long-time cafe manager and barista, I found myself unemployed for the first time in my life. After six months of being unable to get a job or do anything, we decided to move to Wagga, where we had family. I got a job with the previous owner of Larry’s, back when it was still called The Blessed Bean. It was later named 10 Best Street, after its address, and then when I took it over I named it Larry’s. Larry was a sulfur-crested cockatoo that used to visit my partner and me at our old home. We had a bird feeder and he would sometimes come multiple times a day. Eventually, he started rocking up with 90 of his mates, which was a bit of a problem! But it felt appropriate to name the cafe Larry’s, in the spirit of not taking ourselves too seriously.

Larry's coffee house

The relaxed interiors at Larry’s. Photo: Larry’s.

My top three recipe tips: Season well, cooking slowly is good and don’t forget there’s elegance in simplicity. That last one is more a philosophy than a tip but I think it translates. I also want to share my top tip as a barista and that’s not to underestimate the importance of grinding. Grinding fresh is best. Value your coffee grinder more than your machine. It doesn’t matter how good your machine is; if the grind isn’t right, you won’t get good coffee.

Larry’s is open Saturday and Sunday 6:45 am to 2:30 pm and Monday to Friday 6:15 am to 3 pm and is at 10 Best Street, Wagga Wagga.

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