Wednesday, 1 August 2012


We received an invitation from the guys at the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence, an organisation that promotes the key up and coming talent in the industry, both on the cooking and service side.

This dinner featured the following guys and girls who have been nominated as finalists:

Chef finalists
Damien Byrne, Lot 7                                    
Jake Nicolson, Circa the Prince              
Kah-Wai Lo, Hare & Grace                           
Michael Fox, Henry & The Fox                
Michael Demagistris, Sorrento Golf Club

Service finalists
Pierre-Etienne Geoffroy, Jacques Reymond     
Simone Spicer, Pei Modern                     

Each chef was responsible for a dish, the photos below are pretty ordinary so apologies.
Tell Apple to put flash on their ipads!

The Menu for the night, I love matched wines
A bit on each of the finalists
The dinner was held in the foyer at Careers Australia
Mud crab and prawn roll with peanut satay
(Jake Nicolson, Circa)
Classic Chinese Emporor's Pork
(Kah-Wai Lo, Hare and Grace)
Confit duck, celeriac, cracked wheat, beetroots and cavalo nero
(Michael Demagistris, Sorrento Golf Club)
Gingerbread cake, caramelised banana, coffee ice cream, dark chocolate sauce
(Michael Fox, Henry and the Fox)
It goes without saying that the quality was exemplary.  I have to make a special mention for the Emperor's pork, I am Chinese so i've had this dish a number of time, but never executed to this level.  Just as an example of the technique in this dish, take the crack for example.  According to Kah-Wai, he boils in a special mixture with various citrus fruits and star anise, dries it out, then scrapes all the fat off, dries it again for 3 days and then deep fries it!  It was incredible and just shows that you don't need to reinvent the wheel on flavours, you can take a very traditional dish, add some thought and skill with spectacular results.  Kah-Wai is off to NYC this year, I'm sure this dish will be a hit over there!

The highlight was having the chefs sit down with us and chat through the night, share a wine and talk about the restaurant business.  It's very easy to forget how young these guys and girls are given what they've acheived.  I was lucky to spend a good deal of time with Simone Spicer from Pei and Michael Fox from Henry and the Fox.  The passion for what they do really shows in the way they cook/serve, but more so in how they talk about the industry.

The finals are going to be held in Sydney in a few weeks, good luck to Team Victoria.

Thanks very much to Sarah Mason for the invitation.

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