Saturday, 10 November 2012

ARTS CENTRE - A Gourmet Tour In Five Acts

One of the things I love most about Melbourne is its diverse and dynamic arts scene. There is always a festival, new exhibition, play or street art installation going on.

I regularly go to concerts and plays at the Arts Centre Melbourne, so I was thrilled to receive their invitation from for a gourmet tour created by the new in-house catering team. 

Arts Centre Melbourne 

The key creative guys behind the Arts Centre's catering are executive chef Sean Keating and culinary consultant Jan Gundlach, a Michelin starred chef who recently moved back to Australia after working in top restaurants throughout Asia.

Sean talked passionately about innovation and creativity as the main drivers for him and his team and that nothing should be considered too far fetched in the kitchen. I guess the garlic & chocolate dessert is a good example of pushing culinary boundaries, but more of that later. 

The Arts Centre has launched a totally new menu, as well as a series of signature products created in collaboration with local producers and chefs. Here are some of the food we tried:

Spring lamb loin, aromatic herbs and spices, toasted sourdough, hummus, garlic milk 
Parmesan dusted tartlets, whipped goats cheese, crispy puffed wild rice 
Victorian duck breast, five spice, compressed watermelon
Our tour started with canapes in one of their private function rooms. Everything I tried was delicate and beautifully executed. I loved the combination of sweet and savoury in the duck canape and the amazingly creamy texture of the whipped goats cheese in the tartlets. The '1st act' was a promising start for the night.

We then moved to Mezz Bar for the '2nd act', which normally serves tapas-style food and cocktails. We were greeted with some sangria to set the scene. And tasty entree-sized seafood dishes. The perfect amount of food to nibble just before a show.

Rare yellow fin tuna, shiitake mushrooms. red wine and vinegar powder
'3rd and 4th acts' were served again at different function rooms of the Arts Centre and gave us the chance to meet with collaborators for the 'Signature Series', where the Arts Centre catering team worked closely with local suppliers to create tailor-made products for their patrons.

Products include a special coffee blend from Genovese Coffee, Yering Station Marsanna Viognier and Shiraz Viognier wines created exclusively for the Arts Centre and handmade chocolates from Yarra Valley Chocolate Company.

Signature series - chocolate, wine and coffee
Signature series - Canape box
From left to right - pear and frangipane tart; puffed rye bread pillow, goats cheese and thyme; cured king fish with radish and yoghurt, and smoked ham, gruyere cheese and tomato chutney sandwich.

The '5th act' was presented at Hammer Hall as the most amazing dessert table I've ever seen.

Just the presentation of the table was a work of art in its own right. and a great example of what the culinary team is trying to achieve - food as an integral part of the artistic experience. 

Confit garlic, coffee salt, olive oil, chocolate sticks
Chocolate truffles
Dessert table 
I personally love combining sweet and savoury elements into dessert and really enjoyed some of the quirky creations served, like white chocolate with caviar and thyme; and sheep's milk panna cotta, beetroot, shiraz sorbet (my singular favourite dish for the night).

Garlic, coffee and chocolate sticks however were a bit too much for my taste and one of the only things that I didn't enjoy. But hey, hats off to the team for daring to put something so totally unexpected out there.

And many thanks for the Arts Centre Melbourne team for an amazing night!

Curve Bar on Urbanspoon


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