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Industry Icons dinner at CIT – with George Calombaris

By 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.

What’s Your opinion?


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36 Responses to
Industry Icons dinner at CIT – with George Calombaris
tylersmayhem 1:55 pm 13 Nov 08

JB: I’m sure you said “a six course meal overseen by a top chef is nothing to be sneezed at either.”

Not very much (the photo salmon being a perfect illustration), seems to correspond to food overseen by a top chef?! If you had said he was a sous chef from the Hellenic Club it would be easier to identify that to the food you have photographed. even the wine, and the thought put into correctly pairing it with the food sounds lackluster at best.

Granny 10:00 am 13 Nov 08

You don’t like pistachios?

*clunk*

ant 9:54 am 13 Nov 08

Glad I didn’t go, fish and pistachios in just about everything… I’d have been having the lamb sandwich on the way home for sure.

Granny 9:47 am 13 Nov 08

Oh, well that’s different!

mouthface 9:44 am 13 Nov 08

Granny said :

I know I’m a Philistine, but the cheese in a martini concept has me a bit freaked.

it was quite delicious really. don’t be fooled by the name. it seems modern chefs like to be clever when they name dishes. something about having a sense of humour. it actually is like a shot glass with a cold soup that has greek salad flavours of tomato, cucumber, etc, maybe the tiniest hint of alcohol, and served with a piece of grilled haloumi on a toothpick.

neanderthalsis 9:43 am 13 Nov 08

Granny said :

I know I’m a Philistine, but the cheese in a martini concept has me a bit freaked.

It’as a goats milk cheese that’s rqather salty, so it would work well with a dryish martini.

Granny 9:38 am 13 Nov 08

I know I’m a Philistine, but the cheese in a martini concept has me a bit freaked.

mouthface 9:34 am 13 Nov 08

Ari said :

It’s pretty generous calling that stick thing one of the six courses, JB … and it seems a martini is a course, too?

But I quibble too much.

ari, it seems that the thing on a stick was served to diners before they were seated, so i’m assuming it wasn’t one of the courses?

btw, i have eaten at this guy’s restaurant in melbourne and was fairly impressed. if memory serves me correctly had a five course degustation with wine for around $100 per head (haloumi martini included). i can guarantee you nobody on the table was in the mood for kebabs on the way home. this guy does an innovative take on greek food that sometimes gets silly but works well in most cases. as for large serves, well why go to something like this if that’s what you’re after?

neanderthalsis 9:27 am 13 Nov 08

johnboy said :

True, if one is after large serves rather than flavours this might not be the right place

One could even recommend the Cenral Cafe if the most important thing is serving size.

The meal did look impressive, some adventurous combinations – duck, coffee and chocolate, but it sounds as if it worked.

I have been to a few such evenings when working in the TAFE system in QLD. Always a good night for the students and the diners.

Sammy 9:18 am 13 Nov 08

Wow, that salmon dolmades dish looks ridiculous. It looks like a plate of food would look after a kid had been playing with it for 10 minutes. Very odd presentation.

trevar 9:04 am 13 Nov 08

The soil was great: I’m not fond of coffee, so I was surprised how well the unsweetened coffee and chocolate soil complemented the duck.

Ari 8:12 am 13 Nov 08

johnboy said :

True, if one is after large serves rather than flavours this might not be the right place

I’ll bet you had to stop for a kebab on the way home.

Granny 12:55 am 13 Nov 08

So which dishes weren’t you overly fond of jb? Surely not the dessert … that looks awesome!

johnboy 12:41 am 13 Nov 08

True, if one is after large serves rather than flavours this might not be the right place

Ari 12:37 am 13 Nov 08

It’s pretty generous calling that stick thing one of the six courses, JB … and it seems a martini is a course, too?

But I quibble too much.

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