Recently I had the chance to go to the World Chef Showcase, which is part of Crave Sydney. Yes, I had to pay full price for the two Saturday sessions - we're not that popular yet (yet!). And I actually almost forgot that I bought a ticket a few months back and as a result had to pass on a tapas class as I was double booked, but it was definitely worth it.
If you get the chance to go I'd highly recommend it. I was about 20 years younger than the median attendee age but that doesn't bother me. I was able to see some of the top chefs in the world! So, 9am and first up was Matt Moran from Aria Restaurant, which is where one of my good mates had his wedding a few years back.
Matt was very engaging and I could see why he's such a popular celebrity chef. The first dish he created was Tuna with Cucumber, Wakame, and Avocado Puree. Luckily, we were able to have a piece of tuna each - what an amazing little breakfast treat!
But the dish that really impressed me was his Crab Scotch Egg. Instead of the usual meat covered egg, Matt boiled quail eggs and covered them in a crab and scallop mixture and then covered them in panko bread crumbs and fried. It was finished with a celeriac and preserved lemon salad. I couldn't believe it but they made so many they couldn't give them all away! What a way to start the day.
Next was a talking session with Nicholas Lander, who is a food writer and reviewer from the UK.
Nick has recently written a book called, "The Art of the Restauranteur", and he spent about 30 minutes talking through some of the data and information he pulled together for the book. For instance, he said that research has showed that while men read a menu from left to right (and thus focus on the protein), women read from right to left (and thus focus on what comes with the protein). I've road tested that theory with some friends and he's pretty much spot-on. He also talked about how important bathroom design is to a restaurant's success. And did you realise that restaurants that are following the current trend of removing tablecloths (for cost savings) have, for the most part, down worse as a result of poor acoustics and customer comfort?
And to wrap up the morning session was a demonstration by Jason Atherton, of Pollen Street Social in London. Now, I have something to admit - I booked a table at Pollen St when I was in London back in May and was a no-show as I was asked out at the last minute for drinks by one of my work team who left a while back. But I didn't realise how well regarded Pollen St really is. In some polls it's considered the fifth best restaurant in the UK. That's saying something! So if I ever get a chance to go again you can be sure I'll take it.
Jason started by making his Slow-Cooked Egg Full English Breakfast, which has an egg cooking in 62C water for 70 minutes. It's the perfect poaching method! A mini version of the dish was served to us in cleaned-out egg shells, which were a good touch.
Lastly, Jason created a scallop ceviche dish, which looked amazing but unfortunately we weren't able to sample. But it was clear why he's considered one of the best chefs in the UK.
So, all in all it was a fantastic morning. I was really inspired and picked up some great new techniques (I'm going to try that slow cooked egg sometime soon). Was it worth the money? Most definitely. I'd recommend going in the future if you're in Sydney when Crave is on. If not, find a food festival in your neck of the woods and go!
Session 2 will be up soon...