Gert Pretorius doesn’t need to think twice about the way he approaches cooking with grain fed beef. It’s all about simplicity. As he points out, why would it need a crutch when the customer favourite carries its own weight?
If there’s anyone who knows what they’re talking about when it comes to beef, it’s Gert. The head chef at Walter’s Steakhouse and Wine Bar ensures the restaurant lives up to its reputation of serving up ‘the best steak in Brisbane’ every day.
Walter’s Steakhouse opened its doors in 2018 in the Old Mineral House Building on the Paris end of Edward Street in Brisbane CBD. It’s the long time dream of three friends, Andrew, Paul and Denis, who fell in love with the charm and sophistication of old-world New York steakhouses.
The restaurant and bar is well-known for bringing that Manhattan glamour to the Brisbane dining scene through premium house dry aged, grain fed beef and a full complement of steakhouse dishes and sides. They’ve achieved the perfect balance of paying homage to their American heart and the native botanical roots of its namesake, Walter Hill, the first superintendent of the nearby picturesque Brisbane Botanic Gardens in 1855.
Gert’s journey into cheffing started in a place most of us can only dream about – the heart of the South African winelands, Stellenbosch. After learning the ropes from the industry’s best, in 2014 he took the plunge and moved to Brisbane where he immersed himself in every restaurant experience he could.
From a high volume steakhouse near the busy Suncorp Stadium, to a five star business hotel right in the centre of the city, the knowledge and skills Gert picked up along the way landed him his first head chef position at Philip Johnson’s Madame Rouge French bistro. In 2019 Gert threw his hat in the ring and soon found himself the head chef at the highly acclaimed e’cco bistro in Newstead.
Fast forward to today and Gert’s responsible for delivering the crème de la crème of grain fed beef to diners across the city. Walter’s Steakhouse serves a 270 day grain fed in-house dry aged porterhouse, prepared and cooked with specialised methods. When it comes to high end menus, Gert says grain fed beef is the top choice.
“Grain fed beef offers a consistency of quality that is unmatched by alternative feed styles,” Gert says.
“Marble, muscle texture and fat moisture content are all at the pinnacle of excellence in a good grain fed product.”
When it comes to recognising grain fed beef, Gert said it’s pretty clear. It’s hard to mistake that pleasantly firm bite and the buttery, light fat that melts on the tongue. And when the standard is that mouth-watering perfection, Gert says maintaining it is crucial. He’s built up long-standing relationships with many grain fed beef producers. Walter’s Steakhouse enjoys regular blind tests with its producers and while they alternate between Angus and Wagyu, they always come back to grain finished.
“I’m looking for consistency of quality in a beef supplier,” Gert said.
“When my customers have come to expect a certain level of excellence, I need to have a reliable supply of excellence. Working for some top restaurants in Brisbane I have had the opportunity to kindle exclusive and lasting relationships with some very well-known producers.”
Walter’s Steakhouse dry-ages and prepares all steaks in house for a minimum of four weeks to intensify the natural umami – the Japanese word for ‘essence of deliciousness’. And if you’re looking for that top-notch dish with a twist the next time you dine at Walter’s Steakhouse, Gert recommends a delicious spin on a timeless dish.
“We use the trim from our house aged beef in a classic tartare. The complex flavour profile of the dry age gives the classic favourite a new interesting twist,” he says.