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Industry Icons dinner at CIT – with George Calombaris

johnboy 13 November 2008 36

[First filed: November 13, 2008 @ 00:08]

It’s a little known secret. But a few times a year the hospitality school at the Canberra Institute of Technology runs an “Industry Icons” night when the most successful chefs in Australia come to cook with the students and present a major dinner.

Cooking experimental cuisine for 250 might seem like a tall order and it doesn’t come without hiccups.

On the other hand $60/head (including wine) for a six course meal overseen by a top chef is nothing to be sneezed at either.

The chef for the night was George Calombaris, the owner of the Melbourne Press Club amongst other ventures.

The slideshow below has pictures of the courses but here’s what we got.

On arrival there was plenty of Janz sparkling NV Curee (Bubbly)

After a while, and no small amount of sweltering in the bar area the “Meze on a stick” were passed around. This was a white anchovie surrounded by a baby octopus tentacle then rolled in a pistachio. Pistachio was a major recurring ingredient.

Just when all the men in jackets were about to pass out we were finally allowed into the dining room.

There was a short speech in which Meredith Hunter was acknowledged before the traditional owners, and then the news was broken that in the interest of “responsible service of alcohol” there would only be one glass of wine with each course.

Glasses were largely underfilled (under the white fill lines) which I darkly suspect made sure the wait staff had a couple of bottles for sharing amongst themselves later. With long delays between courses it meant a lot of water got drunk.

On every table when we went in was a “Saganaki Martini” my first ever cocktail featuring cheese, in the form of a cube of grilled halloumi on the toothpick. Some of the older ladies on our table could not be convinced of the need to down a shot glass in one.

Then came the salmon dolmades which featured smoked salmon wrapped around cream cheese and coated in powdered vine leaves. It was served with powdered pistachio which did spectacular things with the small serve of salmon eggs. It came with a Pepper Tree Unwooded Chardonnay 2005 which I really liked.

It was followed by a duck thigh on a mushroom salad and a “soil” of coffee and chocolate. That came with a Massale Pinot Noir 2007 which I thought was a little heavy for the dish.

Then came a multi part desert with a meringue, a mastic custard, jelly and a sorbet. It was accompanied by a really solid Miranda Golden Botrytis 2005.

A second whack at desert came with chocolate heavy petit fours.

The night was not without the odd hiccup in service and not all of the dishes are the sort of thing I’d like to eat on an overly regular basis.

After all the eating was done the chef gave a talk about what he’d been trying to do and took questions from the audience which involved a tedious pseudo-speech from the slowfood mob.

If you’re interested in attending future “Industry Icons” dinners contact the CIT restaurant. Or keep your eyes peeled here as we might well try to organise a table next year.

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36 Responses to Industry Icons dinner at CIT – with George Calombaris
patrick_keogh patrick_keogh 7:10 pm 24 Nov 08

Well now we’ve all had our little tanties…

The food at the last Icon Dinner was arguably the best in the past three years.
Flavours were inventive and well matched, the dishes large enough so that we were satisfied by the end of the meal rather than stuffed.

There was no dish that was not interesting and tasty. I agree with jb’s view of the wines, generally good with just the black pinot not really up to the task.

Over the past three years there have certainly been some kitchen disasters (normally fairly expertly disguised), with missing components, cold food or other faults, but none of that this time. Perhaps the key is that George sent his team up well in advance to get the prep work done rather than just turning up on the day. Even the front of house was higher standard than at some Icon Dinners, with fairly efficient table service.

Of course the past Icon Dinner of the year has a basic advantage : the students have been there for the best part of a year so they can tell a knife from a fork, which side to serve from, how to carry plates etc. and the same goes for the skills in the kitchen crew.

The customers/audience are in general food and wine enthusiasts and I can report that their applause for George, his team and the entire CIT crew was generous.

Of course if you’d rather be the judge based on some photos, go right ahead! There is more than enough demand for seats at the Icon Dinners, so you won’t be missed.

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 9:52 am 14 Nov 08

I kept thinking of tylersmayhem screaming at computer screen: “You can’t boot me. You NEEEEEED me.”

LOL. You obviously can’t read either Jones!

Jim Jones Jim Jones 8:57 am 14 Nov 08

Mr_Shab said :

Why am I suddenly reminded of a red-faced tradie berating a parking inspector as his Hilux is ticketed with “I pay your f—ing wages, sunshine”.

I kept thinking of tylersmayhem screaming at computer screen: “You can’t boot me. You NEEEEEED me.”

ant ant 11:10 pm 13 Nov 08

At the risk of getting into trouble, looking at that picture of the Tentacle on a Stick, I can’t say it’s at all appetising.

And granny, Pistachios are definitely criminally-inclined. They (and many other nuts) were led astray by the terrorists of the nut world, peanuts.

ramblingted ramblingted 6:03 pm 13 Nov 08

If they were hot, why didn’t they take their jackets off earlier….

Mr_Shab Mr_Shab 5:05 pm 13 Nov 08

Why am I suddenly reminded of a red-faced tradie berating a parking inspector as his Hilux is ticketed with “I pay your f—ing wages, sunshine”.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 5:00 pm 13 Nov 08

You’re a interested party, not an owner.
And while Johnboy might be -an- owner, he is not -the- owner.

RiotAct Pty Ltd is a Fixed Unit Trust, split between i have no idea how many Trustees.

realityskin realityskin 4:53 pm 13 Nov 08


tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 4:28 pm 13 Nov 08

Thanks JB. To clarify, RA is not my life – I’m sure I would survive, or simply create another username. My posts on this were comments, just as constructive (or not) as yours are. See it as sniping if you choose. I know “you decide” on who’s comments are seen as sniping or not. Allow me to turn some of your comments around;

I recall several contributions I have made on YOUR site. Some successful, some not. Remember JB, without comments and contributions (positive, negative, happy, sad), YOUR site would not exist – nor would this little empire or job you’ve built for yourself. Sure, it would go on without me, and I would not be missed – I can live with that. I just urge you to consider that WE are as much owners of this site as you. Yes, YOU hold the power – but you would not have a job without our contributions, posts and banter. Stop and think about that once in a while JB – please!

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 4:26 pm 13 Nov 08

Never been to an industry night, tyler?

The food is ordinary, wine flows, celebrity chefs are involved so local people remember it, celebrity chef builds profile by travelling to media-covered industry event, local personalities meet eachother, get photos taken, patronise the help, and normally the write up the night gets doesn’t mention the food.

johnboy johnboy 4:19 pm 13 Nov 08

I run the site TM and I have to make decisions you don’t.

One of those is whether to perpetually can your presence here as you are more often unpleasant and disruptive than anything else. And you seem to resent that, through historical accident and eight years of hard work, I’ve got the mod button and you don’t.

Bear in mind that every time I choose to disagree with you is a time I have chosen not to simply silence you here forever.

Back on topic. Late in the day you offer that you dislike the presentation and style of the food on display.

Fair enough. As mentioned you’re rarely missed. That’s been your choice through your words.

If you want to discus the food go ahead.

Further sniping will be the end of your involvement here. You can hop over to blogspot and show me how I’m doing it all wrong.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 4:17 pm 13 Nov 08

bitchfight bitchfight bitchfight!!!

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 4:10 pm 13 Nov 08

Skid, get off your high horse of assumptions. I am a manager. I have also been a manager in hospitality, worked in many a kitchen, and also am fairly well placed to have an opinion.

I find it interesting how JB (a veteran rioter) can make negative comments about this and pretty much whatever he wants on this site (fair enough), but when others such as I make negative comments, particularly if it has to do with anything like a review or comment from JB, someone like you (a veteran rioter) gets quite defensive and jumps to your “overlords” corner. It’s very transparent, and could come across and looking like a bunch of whining gits? Please note…it could!

As for your comment of “un-paid” staff – I think “students” is a more appropriate tag. They are students…paying tuition to learn. Not a bunch of chefs slaving without pay. You know where the majority of that $60 goes? One guess genius. I’ll give you a hint…a certain “top chef”. A certain top chef who gets paid to…to…to really just turn up and put his name on something it would seem in this particular case. I’ve worked in the kitchen in the CIT on nights just like this one. I know what a crock it is, BUT the food we were turning out certainly was plenty less pretentious, and the chef who was there for the night would have never let food presented in that way leave the pass.

Stick to what you know Skid. We all know what that that is.

Granny Granny 3:57 pm 13 Nov 08

Well! I knew pistachios were nuts but nobody told me they had criminal tendencies ….

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 3:49 pm 13 Nov 08

Tylersmayhem, quick dose of reality:

If you’ve ever been in management, or done a minute of educational study, you’d know that very few people are innate talents, and most people take time to train, and more time to train well.
If he was doing the overseeing for only one night, don’t expect him to have them into a condition for setting the world on fire.
And besides, you get what you pay for, and $60 for a six-course isn’t too bad when relying on unpaid staff.

ant ant 3:49 pm 13 Nov 08

Granny said :

You don’t like pistachios?


Pistachios don’t like me, they try to kill me. As do most other nuts. Fish is merely disgusting and upsets the tummy (if it’s in there for long enough to).

Hence my disgust at restaurants whose menus feature offal and/or fish in just about everything!

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 3:29 pm 13 Nov 08

Caf: I have made NO attempt to produce a food review other than saying the food pictured is FAR from what I or anyone should expect from food overseen by “a top chef”.

realityskin realityskin 3:28 pm 13 Nov 08

I agree 😀

caf caf 3:26 pm 13 Nov 08

As opposed to you, who can apparently do a food review based only on another review, rather than actually experiencing the food itself.

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 3:20 pm 13 Nov 08

My God JB, how did you know I am on Med’s?

BTW, your comment of “sunny positivity” coming from you is very much the pot calling the kettle black John. I’m sure I’m not alone on that one – not that I expect anyone to openly agree with me, just on principal.

As for restaurant reviews, don’t quit your day job homes!

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