Having just completed a special lunch with Gault & Millau, showcasing the current European food fashions, we thought we would discuss it further here on our blog. It was such a privilege to cook for 20 chefs and food writers – some up and coming and some more experienced, using just a few of the incredible produce that this country has to offer.

When creating the menu for “Fashion meets Food”, we focused on three main fashions in European food, as decided by David Bitton and the Gault & Millau Head Judge Mark Esquerre. We discussed what dishes would best reflect these trends and chose produce that would show these dishes off in the best possible way.

The first course, a Western Australian Scampi Carpaccio with Perigord Truffle Sabayon and Bush Herb Salad was really about taking the best ingredients and serving them with minimal preparation and handling.  The sweet, rich flesh of the raw scampi was married perfectly with incredible Perigord truffles (that are actually produced in Tasmania) and Rylstone Olive oil which was recently voted one of the best in the world. It was a typical example of taking the best ingredients and keeping it simple – the produce speaks for itself.

Showcasing the “nose to tail” cooking trend, the next course was a Junee lamb shank, slow cooked in Manuka honey and rosemary and served with globe artichoke. Taking cheaper cuts of meat and turning them into fine dining dishes means that restaurants can use the ‘’whole beast’’ and keeps menus interesting. Using cuts that would traditionally end up on the butcher’s floor prompts chefs to experiment with new flavours, textures and methods.  In this instance it was partnering the shank with the subtle flavours – sweet and herbal, marinating it for days and slow cooking it for hours. The result was a sumptuous meat, falling off the bone and melting in the mouth.

Finally we served a Spiced Rhubarb Crumble with Pepe Saya Crème Fraiche and Capertee Saffron Ice Cream.  This dish combined the old with the new – classic ingredients and traditional methods revived by very talented new suppliers and put into dishes that our grandmothers used to make.  The result is really exciting comfort food – old style cooking with a classic twist.  Producers such as Pepe Saya need to congratulated for bringing whole foods back to our table – butter as it used to be. Even the French were impressed!

Living in a city that is so trend driven has its pros and cons …. for foodies it makes for a pretty exciting place to be. Food fashions however, such as slow food, produce driven dishes and nose to tail cooking, hang a round a little longer and always seem to come back.  I wonder what we will be in for next ….