Back from the outback

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So chef Keith Famie, our celebrity of the pots and pans, is in Australia for the next installment of “Survivor II,” where he will prove his mettle in the outback.

One Web bookie has Famie at 4-to-1 odds to win. Who knows — but surely he can buy himself a couple of episodes just with his culinary talents. Lizards and kangaroos grill up mighty nice after soaking in a good marinade, and bugs make great garnishes.

On-screen, Famie can’t make fire with sticks, and one woman even complained that he bossed her around. Besides, no cutthroat weirdo is he, and it’s hard to imagine Chef Keith shaming his way to that moment of truth when the most despicable contestant is handed a fat check.

It would be nice to think instead that the man who brought us Les Auteurs, Madison’s and fantastic take-away BBQ chicken (none, unfortunately, are around anymore) will return home, a bit humbled, ready for an Aussie adventure in the kitchen.

And what an adventure it could be. Australia isn’t just a country; it’s a massive continent. Dozens of microclimates allow for countless vineyards. All forms of delicious sea creatures are caught on the coasts. In the desert, dinner slithers and scurries over parched earth. Who has not felt the pangs of hunger and realized to their complete dismay that only a kangaroo enchilada will do? Famie to the rescue. We can only imagine what he might come up with:

How about a casual place? Let’s call it “Hacienda Platypus.” The waitstaff will be dressed like Crocodile Dundee, were he a gay mariachi. The decor is a cross between a Tijuana bordello and an Alice Springs bordello. The best cuts of kangaroo, emu and snakes will find themselves sizzling on fajita platters or wrapped in eucalyptus leaves tenderized in the mouths of koala bears, to be seen lolling in the chandeliers.

But then again, why not a pub? Picture “The Scarf and Chunder,” a friendly place with Vegemite sandwiches, greasy breakfasts and brash drunkards pawing randy American sheilas while tippling an endless supply of those blue-and-silver chilled tubies containing the amber nectar known as Foster’s Lager? On the telly over the bar, you can watch Aussie rugger matches, surfing competitions and reruns of “Dame Edna.” When the police arrive to bust up a brawl, bets are taken to see who can puke the most in the paddy wagon.

But fine dining has always been the Famie keynote. And at “Chez Bondi,” he will shine. The menu must boast the best Down Under has to offer, not just in cuisine but attitude! Cunningly disguised as a flyblown serviceman’s club, this gem of a restaurant locates itself between the Old and the New Australia. On the plate you will find NuAsian cuisine, signifying Australia’s embrace of the Pacific Rim. In the seats you’ll find old codgers, loaded down with medals and dried drool, ranting in the bluest of terms about everyone else living in the Pacific Rim.

So, Keith Famie, even if you’re sent home a loser, Australia can still make you a winner — in the kitchen, where you rightfully belong.


Pick up the Weight Watchers’ Help Heal Hunger cookbook at any Kroger store until Feb. 17, and know that all proceeds will go to benefit Gleaners Community Food Bank. Or, give your dollars straight to Gleaners, at 2131 Beaufait, Detroit. Call 313-923-3535. … The new Java Coast Grill offers sandwiches, hamburgers, pizza and more, whenever you want. That’s because it’s inside the MGM Grand casino, so it’s open 24-7. Specialty coffee, too.

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