Adelaide creator of chicken salt and recipe revealed, food and wine

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IT’S a salty revelation that shakes up Aussie condiment-creating folklore.

The South Australian creator of chicken salt and his original recipe have been revealed — and it turns out what we dust on our chips today tastes nothing like the original.

“They’ve butchered it,” says the inventor, Peter Brinkworth.

Former Adelaide chef Adam Liaw sparked conversation on Twitter this week following his article in The Guardian, in which he said high-school friend Jodie Brinkworth had always been coy about whether her “dad had invented Australia’s most beloved of seasonings: chicken salt.”

The SourceSA tracked down Jodie — now Jodie Bricout — and dad Peter Brinkworth and asked them about the savoury sprinkle.

“We were selling cooked chicken in a retail outlet,” said Mr Brinkworth, who ran a chicken shop in Gawler, “and we also had a wholesale business where we were distributing fresh chicken to chicken shops and fish ’n’ chip shops.

“I’ve always been one to try to get the upper hand, so I thought maybe I need to do something to make my chicken taste better.”

Mr Brinkworth’s chickens were a hit thanks to his chicken salt. “People loved it,” he said.

But when time came to sell the successful chicken business, Mr Brinkworth’s secret recipe had to go, too.

“We had the wholesaler and wanted to get out of the business. My chicken salt was being sold to fish ’n’ chip shops and chicken shops through the wholesale business — so with the sale of business went the chicken salt.

“I sold the company sometime around 1980.”

Local food firm Mitani bought the business and turned a word-of-mouth hit into a national icon, most famous as a seasoning for hot chips.

Ms Bricout describes the invention as her family’s “claim to fame … but no one ever believed us”.

“We never had proof that Dad invented chicken salt because Mitani bought the business and they were the ones that commercialised it,” Ms Bricout said.

So, more than four decades after inventing it, is Peter a fan of chicken salt on his chips?

“Yeah, ‘course I am,” he said, “but I’ve never tried theirs… they’ve butchered it since then. And why would I buy theirs? I make my own.

“I don’t know whether food laws might make it difficult to produce exactly these days, but the one that I’ve seen on the shelves these days has got rice flour in it and yeast extract. I’d never heard of those things.”

In Liaw’s follow-up article for The Guardian, Mr Brinkworth shares the secret recipe for the first time, saying his chicken salt blended “onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt, paprika, chicken bouillon and monosodium glutamate” with a bit of curry powder.

And did Peter Brinkworth, who says he’s now semi-retired, create any other famous foods in his day?

“A food writer in Sydney told me that I make the best apricot jam in the world,” he said. “So that’s something else I guess.”

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