Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Cooking Class with South Australia's finest Chefs - Sydney Seafood School, Pyrmont

Its an exciting time for the dining scene in South Australia with plenty of creative juices flowing from up and coming young chefs taking the local produce new levels. We were lucky enough to learn first hand from chef Cole Thomas, Callum Hann, Lachlan Colwill and Emma Shearer as well the best produce South Australia had to offer.
Scallop with Squid Ink Soil, Trout Roe and Fennel puree
The venue for the evening was the Sydney Seafood School above the Fish Markets in Pyrmont. It is a very modern cooking theatre, complete with TV screens focusing on the preparation bench, where you can see in detail each demonstration taking place. Its like being back at Uni all over again for us Empty Fridgers, complete with fold away tables only this time we were attentive and well behaved students. Not even the Barramundi skin wallpaper could distract us as we wanted to pick up on any techniques and skills on show.
Sardine Spring roll and Chef Cole Thomas at work
 Exciting stuff is happening within the dining scene in South Australia and Chef Cole Thomas enthusiastically tells us about some newly opened restaurants. He is the Executive Chef of Hentley Farm at the Barossa Valley and also owns Cullenetic and the Adelaide Central Market Kitchen. Cole is all about innovative cuisine has a strong focus on optimising quality focus. He tells us of a dish he has developed a dish which involves levitating a small piece of tuna at the table giving new meaning to "flying fish".
Cole prepares a deep fried Spring Roll with macadamia nut pieces, apricots, capers, cabbages and a sardine fillet. Chef Cole has directly worked with producers in South Australia to shine some light on the under-utilised species of fish readily available. The sardines are just that, as well as flavoursome and an interesting addition. A Scallop entree is also prepared and Chef explains that the variety produced in South Australia is smaller but more dense compared to the water-pumped American counterpart. The scallop is served with squid ink soil, trout roe and a fennel puree. Both starters were interesting dishes showing how a mix of unlikely ingredients can be mixed together to produce great flavours, much like what is happening with the food scene in South Australia. 
Chef's Emma Shearer and Lachlan Colwill were up and ready to go for the next demonstration. The duo work together for the Trim Hospitality Group, The Grace Establishment and the Manse Restaurant where Lachlan runs the kitchen operations and Emma heads up the dessert pastry menus and is the Senior Pastry Chef. Lachlan also runs Sparrow Kitchen and Bar in North Adelaide. Emma demonstrates tonight's dessert which is a Barossa Vache Curd Mousse, Meringue, Lime Curd and Freeze Dried Passionfruit.
Vache Curd is produced by Barossa Valley Cheese Company and is similar to goats curd but uses cows milk instead. It takes two days to make the curd - one day for fermenting the milk and then another day for the curd to set. It was a good thing that both chefs were working together to make this dessert as Lachlan spent the whole time whisking the lime curd over the stove. The result is an interesting and loosely constructed cheesecake dessert with contrasting textures and flavours. The soft vache curd mousse adds a strong tart flavour, which contrasts the crunchy sweetness of the meringue. The freeze dried passion fruit scattered on top packs a vicious punch of unexpected flavour also.
Callum, everyone's favourite Masterchef runner up contestant hails from the Barossa Valley and was here to represent. Pairing up with Lachlan; the pair proceeded to demonstrate how to carve up a duck, showing techniques that can be applied to other winged creatures. The large duck we are working with tonight is from Waechter Dux, a free range duck far within the Barossa Valley. The ducks are on a special Barossa grain diet and lead a happy life roaming the farm fields. 
 The duck breast meat was to be part of the dish we would be recreating later in the evening. Lachlan demonstrated with ease how to carve out the breast from a full duck. In a nutshell the wings and legs are extended and the bones broken and cut off. Any joints are used as an indication of where to cut through the skin folds. Lachlan made this look very effortless, however this might not be the case when trying it at home. We were then showed how to cook the duck breast, pan frying it until golden and then popping it in the oven for 8 minutes to finish the job. Meanwhile Callum was showing everyone how to concoct the swede puree we would all be cooking later in the evening. 
 After the lesson in poultry carving we were presented with a big Kingfish. More specifically it was a Hiramassa Yellow Tail Kingfish, farmed by Cleanseas in South Australia. Lachlan was explaining that the quality of the fish is amazing because the flesh is not damaged or bruised. It's the perfect fish for sashimi because it is fleshy and full of flavour. 
He procees to then explains to us how fresh this partucular fish is with its firm texture, glossy sheen and as morbid as it sounds - the bright red blood. After a "gutting" demonstration, Lachlan expertly slices the fish along its spine from the base of the head working right down to the tail. With surgical precision, he produces a fine piece of boneless hiramasa fillet and proceeds to slice it into bite sized pieces. 

And now, it was our turn to re-create these delectable dishes.
 The second part of the Seafood School was the fully equipped modern kitchen. We were assigned groups and provided with the recipes to recreate the Kingfish and Duck dishes demonstrated earlier. Our group of five consisted of Bridget aka The Internet Chef, Carmel aka @CarmR, Bianca from the PEPR team and this Empty Fridge duo. Teamwork was cruicial in getting the two dishes underway and everyone was given a component of each dish to complete.

 The ingredients were provided, and thankfully we did not have to debone and carve out the duck breast. We had four, fresh and deliciously plump pieces of free range duck breast waiting for us - and the quicker we'd cook, the sooner we'd get to try the dishes for ourselves!

Into a hot pan the duck breast goes, no oil is needed as there is enough fat rendered from cooking the meat. From the demonstration, we saw that this took the longest to cook - so we began preparations to get this cooked straight away. The smell of the duck meat was intoxicating and filled the large bustling room, everyone was focused and in the zone with pans and utensils clanking away.
Clockwise : Some Sydney Seafood Art, Demos' swede puree to accompany the pan fried Duck Breast, Demos and Carm (both were VERY hard at work in the kitchen ;) ), Bridget sharing Sashimi slicing tips.
 Clockwise: Checking on the Duck, The most incredibly presented kingfish sashimi with sesame mayonnaise; lemon soy dressing and watercress, Bianca adding beautiful touches to the dish, Gianna perfecting the sesame mayonnaise.
 Above: the very busy kitchen
 Above: The impeccably cooked duck breast being rested and then sliced to serve.
 Demos adds the final touches to the presentation of the Duck dish - puffed grains which were pre-made for us adds another texture to the plate. The duck breast is unlike anything I have tasted, they meat is very lean and dense and without a fatty aftertaste - the produce really does shine in the two dishes.

And now for our final products:
 Sashimi of South Australian Kingfish with Sesame Mayonnaise; Lemon & Soy Dressing and Watercress.
 Waechter Peking Duck Breast, Puffed Grains, Swede Puree and Micro Herbs

Chef Emma Shearer prepared our dessert plates for the evening - Barossa Vache Curd Mousse, Meringue, Lime Curd, Freeze Dried Passionfruit and White Peach slices. It was such a refreshing dessert with so much exciting and tangy flavours - amazing!
 Not only does the Seafood School have a demonstration theatre and cooking benches, there is also a dining area to enjoy the fruits of your labour and enjoy  your meal of course. Luckily, bottles of wine awaited our arrival
We were treated with lovely South Australian Wines, with each glass better than the next and perfectly complimenting our meal - Left to Right: Zema Estate Coonawarra 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yalumba 2009 Wrattonbullt Botrytis Voigner dessert wine, Patrick 2010 Estate Wrattonully Reisling and the Zema Estate 2005 Family Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.

It truly was a memorable evening having the oppurtunity to spend time with such talented chefs and learning about the amazing food, wine and dining experiences South Australia has to offer. They are truly passionate about showcasing South Australia's culinary delights to their interstate counterparts and establishing themselves in the Australian food scene. With new restaurants, cellar doors, and an array of local producers, South Australia is fast becoming a food and wine lovers destination that should not be overlooked. We are googling our flights there now.
Visit South Australia :
With Special thanks to Tourism South Australia and PEPR Publicity for the wonderful experience.

For more information, visit:
Chef Cole Thomas -
The Manse Restaurant -
The Grace Establishment -
Sparrow Kitchen and Bar -
The Vache Curd -
The Hiramasa Kingfish -
The Zema Estate Wine -
Also : 


chocolatesuze said...

heh that class looks like fun fun fun fun fun *winks*

sugarpuffi said...

such a good experience! the kingfish looks so awesome

Anonymous said...

Looks great the Patrick 2010 Riesling would have been great with the Kingfish!!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Your sashimi presentation is top notch! But I knew you'd all do well! :D

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

This looks so much better than when I did a class there back in 2008. So much more swish and I don't recall getting dessert served to us back then!

Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said...

Hi suze- fun fun fun indeed and such great food!

Hi sugarpuffi- it really was an awesome experience- I really want to trek on over to SA and eat myself silly!

Hi Anon - the Patrick Riesling was perfect with the kingfish! It was very crisp and an absolute treat to drink after all our hard work in the kitchen! I have added the link to the post!

Hi Lorraine- the sashimi was lovely to look at and even better to taste!

Mll delicieuse - it's totally state of the art and such a great venue to learn. We were very lucky that Chef Emma prepared us the delectable dessert!

Anonymous said...

NOT FOR PUBLICATION - just for you
Hi - glad you enjoye dthe School - it is an amazing space since our refurb 2 years ago. Your photos are great, really show it off well. Just 2 minor points I thought you may want to correct in your copy:
- we're at Sydney Fish Market (singular), not the Fish MarketS (plural) ... lots of people make that mistake
- the auditorium is lined with Atlantic salmon skin leather (from Iceland) not barramundi skin
Hope that helps - and please let me know if you're in Sydney again and would liek to sit in on one of our regular classes
Roberta Muir, Manager Sydney Seafood School

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