Breakfast with the masters

Yesterday was my first foray into the world of celebrity foodies. I was kindly invited to come and watch the Brisbane Good Food and Wine Show pop-up celebrity breakfast restaurant. The restaurant was set up in The Green Space within the Redeveloped Boardwalk Area at Southbank. The restaurant opened for an exclusive group of guests including, competition winners,  QLD show exhibitors, Anna Bligh, and celebrity chefs.  (George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan, Matt Moran, Alastair McLeod,Toby Puttock and Manu Feildel.)

I thought I would be envious of the seated patrons that enjoyed the three plate menu. It turned out that being back stage behind the scenes was not only interesting and fun, it gave me an insight into high end hospitality.

The menu was designed by George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan, Matt Moran and Alastair McLeod.  It was prepared by a group of talented chefs, Andrew Ballard, Jayson Smith and Rebecca Woodcock.

The menu featured only Queensland produce, much of it from businesses seriously affected by the January floods and cyclone.

How cool are the place mats? They were full of information about the food journey of the 3 plate menu.

Alastair McLeod had a bit to say about using local produce. He made a comment that the average trolley of groceries from the supermarket has clocked up more miles than Jessica Watson. In his view this was offensive when we have so much great produce on offer in Queensland. He talked about knowing his suppliers favourite colour,  and the name of their children.  He believes you can taste the fervor and zeal of their labour in every bite.

Matt Moran was asked about his experience with the Brisbane floods and his riverside restaurant. He was out of the country at the time when he received a phone call advising that ARIA would be 1.5m underwater by the end of the day. ARIA had a lucky escape as the water stopped 23cm below entry point. The flow on effect of the flood was not just the downtime of trade and produce. Even produce sourced from NSW had issues getting through due to the shortage of delivery trucks and closure of the Rocklea markets.

Toby Puttock then dropped a few hints as to what I can expect at his celebrity theatre event at the show. He will share ideas that are easy to replicate at home. He has been doing a lot of work with mangoes, free range chicken cooked in milk, lemon and sage and is a bit mad for quinoa.

A number of exhibitors were present in the restaurant, including the Kingaroy Peanut Van, Tomarata Orchard, Barambah Organics and Broken Nose Vanilla. Rob Patch from the Peanut Van shared with us the affect the floods had on his business. While Kingaroy was still up and running, it was not able to get the usual tourist trade, so customers just dried up. To survive financially they had to start a new market circuit for a while. Rob raved about his peanuts. Apparently peanuts grow on sunlight and Queensland offers the best conditions for the little nut.

All of the food was prepared off site in an approved commercial kitchen and was brought to the pop-up restaurant to be plated up.

Head chef Andrew Ballard putting the finishing touches to Plate 1.

Labna and Apple Baviors with Hazelnut by Matt Moran, Tuna Confit with Snow Pea Salad by George Calombaris and Peanut Parfait. Local produce used includes; cream from Barambah Organics (Oxley), Chardonnay Vinegar from Lirah (Ballandean), Peanuts from Peanut Van (Kingaroy) and Rosella Jam from Tomarata Orchard (Pomona)

Fresh fruit salad with a special five spice sauce.

Plate 2 featured natural yoghurt from Maleny Dairies. The dairy is run by the Hopper family, who have been farming for 3 generations.

The Whole Food Co is based in Cairns. Run by Fiona Davison (a former pastry chef for 10+ years) she is now committed to making organic, handmade treats that maintain nutritional integrity, but not to the detriment of taste and palatability.

Plate 2 - Fresh fruit with almond and quinoa granola served with natural yoghurt and milk. Local produce used included; The Whole Foods Co (Cairns), rich creamy guernsey milk and natural yoghurt from Maleny Dairies (Maleny), Vanilla pods from Broken Nose Vanilla

Plate 3 - Cheese and Bacon muffins with sour cream by Gary Mehigan. The bacon is from Schulte's Meat Tavern in Plainland, Lockyer Valley. They were winners of the 2010 Best Bacon in Australia Award from Australia Pork.

For the life of me I can't remember what this is and I don't instantly recognise it. Leave a comment below if you can help. I recall Alastair McLeod saying this added an almost lemony flavour to the dish.

Alastair McLeod said there has to be a reason for everything on the plate. You don't put something there just for aesthetics. These Nastersians add a peppery touch.

Garlic Chive Flowers

Plate 3: Vegetable Frittata, Goat's Curd with Leaves from Alastair's Garden by Alastair McLeod. Featuring goats curd from Emmos Fine Foods (Thornton, Lockyer Valley).

The champagne was supplied by Clovely Estate in South Burnett. According to the CEO of Clovely Estate, Luke Fitzpatrick, the main positive to come from the flood is that it ended one of the worst periods of drought the region had experienced. Ironically, the flood that caused so much pain for the 2011 vintage may also be the cause of their best vintage to come.

George Calombaris inspecting the garden leaves Alistair sourced for Plate 3.

Coffee was supplied by Bellissimo Coffee, a boutique coffee roaster based in Fortitude Valley.

I had an informative chat to the director of Bellissimo Coffee, Mark Bignell.  Most of the coffee they roast is international green beans.  They do try to have some Australian beans available.  The blend that day was called Emporio. It won the top award at the 2010 Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. It is a blend of Latin America beans and has a sweet chocolate nut taste. It was interesting talking about the differences in beans from various countries. Mark put it nicely when he said the art of roasting is being able to find a way to optimise the character of the bean, and bring out the flavours unique to that beans origin.

The Bellissimo roasterie/cafe/retail store is located at 30 Wandoo Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.  I have added them to my list of places to visit soon.

I thoroughly enjoyed mingling with the celebrity chef action.  It was interesting seeing this event from a back stage perspective.  What a nice start to the Brisbane Good Food and Wine show. I am proud that our own Queensland produce got such a centre stage.  It is good when the message of reducing food miles by choosing local options is broadcast by people of influence.

Thank you very much Sarah and Dean for thinking of me. I am very appreciative I got this experience and opportunity.

I am off to visit the Good Food and Wine show this afternoon.  It is open today and Sunday.   You can find more details on their website.

One thought on “Breakfast with the masters

  1. Dean Katsavos says:

    That shot from the Goodwill Bridge is terrific. Brisbane is truly a river city and the Green Space compliments that part of the city so well. Funny to reflect that that part of Brisbane was under a serious amount of water 10 months ago!

    Glad you enjoyed yourself and thank you so much from both Sarah and I for getting involved with the Good Food & Wine Show.

    Keep posting!

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