Every now and then a restaurant comes along that changes the path of a city’s cuisine, and influences food on a world scale. We Sydney-siders are extremely lucky to have more than our fair share of these exquisite eateries. And in a recent stroke of good foodie fortune I was invited to Peter Gilmore’s Winter Masterclass at Quay, courtesy of Electrolux.
Opting for a calm stroll through The Rocks on a balmy autumn evening instead of the kindly offered hirecar I strolled up the ramp and stopped to let the carefully created aesthetics of Quay’s elegant entrance sink in. Winding up the carpeted stairs to the Level 2 test kitchen a smiling glass of Bollinger welcomingly met me at the top.
In case you don’t know (and, well, you really should) Electrolux manufacture top of the line cookware and appliances. You know Tetsuya’s induction wok? Electrolux. Peter Gilmore’s steam oven? Yup, Electrolux. And those awesome “we make vaccuum cleaners too” ads. Mmm hmm, you guessed it – Electrolux.
Founded in 1919 the top tier brand has paved the way in both home and restaurant appliances, creating useful and beautiful solutions for chefs of all shapes and sizes. Dedicated to promoting the industry Electrolux has taken an active role in supporting Australia’s cooking talent of tomorrow as the principal sponsor for Appetite for Excellence, now in its 7th year.
“The brand and our chefs have really chosen eachother,” said Kate Young of PR Agency Open House, organizers of tonight’s event and representatives of Electrolux, “and we’re incredibly honoured both Tetsuya and Peter like the products from Electrolux, it means we’re doing our job right!”
And in an unassuming entrance Peter appeared behind the bench, as at home in his little test kitchen as a fish in the ocean.
The ethos of the masterclass was simple: Don’t bother with prepackaged bunk just because you’re chilly and it’s easy, afterall, a bit of running around fetching veggies and some hot time in the kitchen (with a warming glass of red..) will defrost your digits in no time.
Here are some of Peter’s favourite winter treats:
- Mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, swiss brown, chestnut): choose ones with smooth caps, unbruised and opened. Store in the fridge in a paper bag for up to a few days. Beautiful sauteed with cumin-infused butter.
- Cauliflower: opt for firm and heavy topped crops with tightly compacted florets (clusters) and vibrant green leaves. Pop it in the fridge for up to a week
- Jerusalem artichokes: resembling ginger but actually kin in the sunflower family and offering an earthy, sweet flavour. Pick firm, pale brown ones with less knobs. Store them in a cool, dark place for up to 10 days.
(For the waist warriors: Incidentally if you’re girth-conscious I recommend popping Calorie King onto your bookmarks bar, type in the food and select how you’ve cooked it from a list and voila! every meal comes with a back panel. However, I wouldn’t recommend using it for any of the following recipes, just eat them on a special occasion then hit the gym like it’s going out of fashion the next day. And yes, I know I’m going to cop slack from my slather-on-the-fat loving friends but here at RabbitEarth we love all types.)
Aromas filled the air as the whir of Peter’s high-powered induction hotplate kicked into gear. Earthy scents of autumn, browning butter, creamy melting Gouda and crisping hazelnuts. My nose pricked up, begging for more and tongues around the room unconsciously licked their owners chops.
In an entirely endearing turn of events the air of roasting hazelnuts suddenly sharpened as the nuts blackened on one side. Peter chuckled with a shake of his head and slight blush rising in his cheeks.
“Ah well, just goes to show you how fast induction really is eh..!” the chef mused and kindly requested his helpful apprentice to retrieve some more from the stores.
Watching Peter Gilmore in his element was a marvelous treat. In line with his reputation, his attitude is concentrating and kind, directing his staff with respect, courtesy and experience. A penultimate chef.
After the small bowls of Savoury Gouda custard with Autumn mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes & hazelnuts melted on our tastebuds and rushed straight to our hips the scents rising from the kitchen wafted from earthy vegetables to the seducing scents of slow roasting pork.
“I wanted to give you a pork belly dish that’s achievable at home,” Peter explained, “but I’ll admit I had to put my thinking cap on!”
What eventuated was slow braised, crisp skinned pork belly with prunes, sherry and cauliflower cream, or as I’d like to rename it, “a study in succulence.”
“..and now we thought we’d take you through the degustation.” was the abrupt interjection by the chef as we salivated in the direction of the pork. An excited giggle flitted around the room as the words sunk in and we took our seats at the elegant table with heart (and stomach) felt appreciation.
The degustation that followed was nothing short of marvelous. If these are the sorts of things that winter brings then I’ll burn my bathers. Beguiling crunchy pearlescent beetroot dust, supple partridge with new season walnuts, still white in their youth and exuding autumn flavour, nitrogen frozen vanilla mousse, mangosteen & feijoa ice cream akin to any religious experience.
Time, care, consideration and genius created these dishes, what more evidence do you need than the ingenious coating of the wagyu beef in “Ezekiel crumbs” – the five grains that God gave Ezekiel in the Old Testament to be made into a life saving bread in the desert.
An enormous thank you to Peter Gilmore, Quay Restaurant, Electrolux, Open Haus and our delightful, white gloved head waiter Kristian, you’ve made yet another unforgettable evening I feel honoured to have been a part of.
And for all my readers – if you haven’t been to Quay, bang it up there atop your Bucket List and book in advance.
Salad of rhubarb, endive, beetroot, purple carrot, rosa radish, kohlrabi, goats curd, pomegranate molasses, violet
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Roasted partridge breast, steamed truffle brioche, confit egg yolk, new season white walnuts, fumet of vin jaune
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Roached Wagyu beef 9+, oxtail, morel, black pudding, farro, buckwheat, hazelnut, ezekiel crumbs
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Nitrogen frozen vanilla mousse, fresh mangosteen, custard apple, jeijoa ice cream, coconut cream
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Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal
5 Hickson Road, The Rocks NSW 2000
Ph. (02) 9251 5600