It’s not every day that you find yourself slightly intoxicated walking around a grocery store, running your hands over artisan (read slightly overpriced) products and pondering the use of Fluff Marshmallow Spread. And it’s not every day that you get an 8-course feast cooked for you by chef, restaurateur and providore Luke Mangan.
But as good food month rolls on, Crave continues to pull out all the stops. Last night at Thomas Dux Grocer in Crows Nest, the handsome grocery space was transformed into a pop-up restaurant for 60-odd diners, all wanting to rub shoulders with the celebrity chef.
Mangan took us on a global tasting experience from Morocco to Mexico via a tapas-style feast showcasing dishes from his restaurants and using oils and spices from his providores (product placement overload, but all in good fun). We started with what was perhaps the best dish of the evening – Moroccan spiced steak tartare, which arrived on large wooden planks with a sea of tiny quail eggs perched atop the meaty nest. Roasted garlic flat bread accompanied the dish and was the perfect vehicle to mop up their golden yellow entrails. Feta, tarragon, mint and sumac stuffed zucchini flowers followed on a pillow of creamy corn puree and was a definite crowd-pleaser.
By the end of the night everyone was best friends (plentiful food and wine always seems to make this happen), so facebook details were exchanged, wedding dates were swapped (who knew pop-up dinners attracted such a large posse of newlyweds?) and someone even offered to host a falafel party for the table. The night culminated in a sweet crescendo of warm chocolate filled doughnuts with vanilla bean ice-cream and anglaise and Luke Mangan goodie bags for everyone.
The elegant surrounds of Luke Mangan’s stunning glass brasserie proved to be the perfect location to celebrate the 2012 Electrolux Appetite for Excellence Awards on Monday night.
Unlike the Award finalists, who anxiously awaited for the winners to be announced, the Best Restaurant team happily spent the evening sipping Henschke and enjoying the food station offerings. A rather theatrical roast pig – with tail, feet, eyes and all — impressively on show, was not for the food feint-hearted, but, we must remember, we were rubbing shoulders with Australia’s culinary elite. An oyster bar, sashimi counter and cheese station all delivered the goods while the seared pieces of Wagyu beef and tempura zucchini flowers won us over.
The de Groots’ team enjoying the night: Anna Lisle and Sami Jo Adelman
Hosted by the vivacious Jill Dupleix, the night was a fantastic celebration of what has arguably been a tough year for the hospitality industry. Jill paid tribute to the next generation of culinary stars that made up this year’s Electrolux Appetite for Excellence Awards national finalists – and, together with chefs Peter Gilmore and Mark Best, announced the 2012 winners.
de Groots’ Producer Scott Winter with Lyndey Milan
The awards, recognised as one of the industry’s most prestigious, were presented in front of the nation’s culinary elite including Giovanni Pilu, Terry Durack, John Fink and Lyndey Milan. Aiming to inspire and encourage the future heavyweights of the hospitality industry, the Awards aim to retain culinary talent in Australia, despite the allure of overseas fine dining and Michelin stars.
The happy winners – Katrina Birchmeier, Peter Gilmore, Mark Best, Stewart Wesson, James Audas
Electrolux Australian Young Chef
Electrolux Australian Young Waiter
Electrolux Australian Young Restaurateur