[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.