Tasmania’s Iron Chef Challenge

A Tetsuya Truffle Drysdale Dinner

How many ways can you use a truffle? It’s truffle season and the state has gone gaga.

Reading the menu on the way to Launceston for the big event, The Other Girl tried unsuccessfully to hide her mirth. I’ve told her about Chris Jackman’s Choux Shop. It was at least 15 years ago and I still remember my order: asparagus with coddled egg and shaved truffle. I don’t remember what I liked least but I’ve avoided coddled egg and truffle ever since. Five out of six courses at Drysdale’s Great Chef Series with renown Chef and Tasmanian devotee, Tetsuya Wakuda, would feature truffle. Very Iron Chef.

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I was in hell. ‘Not the dessert?’ I squealed. The Other Girl suggested the dessert might include the chocolate variety. I breathed a sigh of relief. I hate missing out on dessert.

We were among 122 guests at the event and sat between two Hobart couples: Jonica and Peter who love anything food related and Michael and Lydia who were in Launceston ‘chasing names’. The six-course degustation was headed by arguably one of Australia’s finest chef’s Tetsuya, who has finally just received his first Michelen star, for his Hong Kong enterprise.

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The Great Chef Series exposes Drysdale students to high-end hospitality. Tetsuya graciously said ‘It is a joy to work with a young team.’ And no doubt it was an honour to work with such an experienced Chef.

The Great Chef Series is unashamedly about vocational education. Guests are grateful guinea pigs. It is an opportunity to experience a great in the Australian food landscape for a reduced cost. Six courses with matching wines, top-ups and drinks on arrival was $165 per person.

The Two Girls subscribe to the Jamie Oliver cooking ethos: what matters most when you’re cooking is that you tried. To paraphrase, it doesn’t matter if you serve up a steak sandwich, just give it your best shot, use good bread, take care cooking your meat and use some condiments, don’t just slap it together, make the best steak sandwich you can. And so it was at this Great Chef’s Dinner, from the flourish as five attendants circled our table, paused between each couple and on cue placed our plates before us, to the beautiful presentation of each dish.

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Tip: Jonica and Peter (above) on why you should like food photos on Facebook ‘Because we always like the photos of the things that matter to you’. Jonica and Peter love to eat out in Hobart and named The Glasshouse their current fav.

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Tip: Michael and Lydia (above) are bound for great food adventures. Their second date was at Lebrina although they were quick to point out that the next date was much more casual. The current fav places to eat for these guys include: The Source, Templo and Frank.

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What we ate:

Warm salad of poached chicken with truffle and 2015 Holm Oak Pinot Gris

Slow cooked Huon salmon with cannelloni beans, truffle, salmon roe with 2015 Holm Oak Chardonnay

Tasmanian abalone with trofie, truffle with 2015 Holm Oak Pinot Noir

Soft braised wallaby with belly of pork, polenta, potato, truffle with 2014 Holm Oak The Wizard Pinot Noir

Granny Smith apple granite, apple jelly

Chocolate bavarois with truffles, salted hazelnut caramel with Hog & d’Hound Muscat

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The wines were an excellent match for each plate. The Chardonnay with its lovely butteriness was This Girl’s favourite. The Pinots were also both excellent but The Wizard was well rounded, superb.

If you have a modicum of social skills then events like the Great Chefs Dinners are well suited to you. It was a great atmosphere, everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Seating at shared tables you interact with people you might not otherwise get to meet. We were fortunate to be sitting with inspired foodies and lovely people.

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We all enjoyed the evening. We were spoilt with fat cubes of abalone accompanied by the most subtle of tomato passata, tender poached chicken, the unusual and bitter aniseed of the samphire, perfectly cooked wallaby and of course, truffles. Even on the dessert.

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Which to be fair provided a counterpoint for the sweet bavarois and salty caramel sauce. I realised it must just be coddled egg I hate.

There were a number of discordant elements: the cannelloni beans were a little brutal for the delicate salmon and the potato a little under-cooked with the wallaby for example.

We admired Tetsuya’s sentiment that ‘In the kitchen, everyone is an equal’. And at this event it was true in the Jamie Oliver way, that every one of the Drysdale crew were giving it a fair go. It was a pleasure to eat the works of students under prestigious tutelage.

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Like Drysdale on Facebook here – Drysdale and keep an eye out for other events.

Here’s when we went to the Drysdale master class in Hobart.

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