Is Beef Wellington Melbourne the must-have dish this winter?

Those who thought they had eaten their last Beef Wellington in 1973 might be in for a restaurant shock this winter. The batter-wrapped beef tenderloin is served in gastro pubs and neighborhood restaurants around Melbourne, with high-end butchers also selling ready-to-cook versions.

The appeal is undeniable for Troy Wheeler, who sells the showpiece at four Meatsmith butcher shops he co-owns. “Puff pastry, rich and delicious; a lovely piece of soft and tender eye fillet; rich, creamy duxelles around the eye fillet. It’s quite grand on the dinner table.”

It’s a complicated kitchen job, that’s one of the reasons people love to outsource it. And after being featured on two Chef episodes in two years, the showstopper has generated excitement among many Melburnians.

Recess Beef Wellington takes three days to make. Photo: Parker Blain



Made with a premium cut of beef and a golden pastry shell, the other essential component of Beef Wellington is finely chopped mushrooms cooked into a paste with shallots, butter and herbs, called duxelles. Often the meat is spread with pâté, then coated in duxelles and rolled in puff pastry.

It is thought to be named after the first Duke of Wellington, who may have tried a similar French dish (beef en croute) during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s.

Classically French-trained chef Donovan Cooke is offering beef Wellington as a pre-order special ($60) at his restaurant Fitzroy North Ryne. It is one of a collection of other old-school dishes he learned at London restaurants such as Waterside Inn at Bray.

Most of us remember a dinner our parents had, where they ate beef Wellington and drank port.


Troy Wheeler

The first time Cooke made Beef Wellington was for celebrity chef Marco Pierre White’s 1992 wedding to Lisa Butcher. “All the star chefs in London were there. And Marco wanted it as a brioche, not a pastry,” he laughs.

Steven Nelson of The Recreation in Fitzroy North says the atmosphere in the kitchen while preparing Wellington is charged. “Everyone is waiting for this first installment. The whole brigade [of chefs] gathered around the cutting board.”

The dish is a three-day preparation for his team. Since it was added to the Sunday menu in early June, demand has been good, with 40 servings sold last week at $60 each.

Variations on the original recipe are common. At Meatsmith, there is no pâté but the crepe is included as a layer between the mushrooms and the shortcrust pastry, which helps absorb moisture during cooking.

Cooke’s version layers jamon Iberico (Spanish cured ham) between puff pastry and duxelles. A nod to the French version, he also associates his duxelles with foie gras and poultry liver parfait.

Tips for making your own Wellington at home

Since that daunting first encounter with making a Wellington, Cooke has mastered it and has some tips for those who want to try it at home.

Ryne's Beef Wellington includes deluxe touches like Foie Gras, Chicken Liver Parfait and Jamon Iberico.

Ryne’s Beef Wellington includes deluxe touches like Foie Gras, Chicken Liver Parfait and Jamon Iberico. Photo: Wayne Taylor



“It’s all in the preparation. Don’t try to make your Beef Wellington the day you want to eat it. If you want the easy life, I suggest you start two days before,” he says.

Wrap your beef in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least a day after spreading it with its various additions. This will help everything set and hold its shape.

But don’t forget to unwrap the plastic before adding the paste. Cooke says it’s happened before, even in professional kitchens. A meat thermometer is a must to check for doneness, but before slicing with a sharp serrated knife, let the Wellington rest.

A meat thermometer and resting the parcel after cooking is essential when making beef wellingtons at home.

A meat thermometer and resting the parcel after cooking is essential when making beef wellingtons at home. Photo: Parker Blain



Or you can just order the retro classic pre-assembled from butchers like Peter Bouchier or Meatsmith, whose chef Andrew McConnell is also a partner.

Meatsmith has served some type of pre-assembled beef and pastry creation since it opened in 2015, Wheeler says. But last year Wellington sales surged.

Wheeler thinks the appeal is a mix of convenience and nostalgia. “Most of us remember a dinner party our parents had, where they ate beef wellingtons and drank port… It reminds me of a cold winter night around the fire.”

Meatsmith's Beef Wellington is sold ready to bake and serve to diners.

Meatsmith’s Beef Wellington is sold ready to bake and serve to diners. Photo: Jana Langhorst



Wheeler likes to serve hers with a jus of red wine and either a green salad or roasted carrots and parsnips. Nelson is also a fan of red wine juice, but adds mashed potatoes.