Straits Chinese to Spanish, class-act Tan cooks up storm
WON the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, this temporary Detective was in Melbourne checking out the flash new premises of the Tony Tan Cooking School in Toorak. Malaysian-born Tan has been running successful classes for years but a purposebuilt pavilion adjoining his residence is now the customised venue for a series of year-round courses, from Masala Magic (Indian) to Singapore Style. Tan says he is making headway on his much-anticipated cookbook of Peranakan (Straits Chinese) cuisine and putting the final touches to a gourmet food tour he’s leading to Spain in October. Meantime, the classes are always busy; Tan told Detective that Tony’s Choice, which melds seasonal produce with ‘‘ freestyle cooking’’, is among the most popular. Also booking fast are New Shanghai (July 2 or 3) classes inspired by the experimental cuisine of Shanghai restaurateur and cookbook author Jereme Leong, whose food, Tan says, has ‘‘ wow factor’’. As at the best of cooking classes, participants get to eat the spoils; great ITH FoodDetective Elizabeth Meryment on maternity leave and ActingDetective Judith Elen on annual holidays, it falls to your usual DepartureLounge columnist to swap boarding pass for wooden spoon and go undercover this week. value from $105, wine included. (03) 9827 7347; www.tonytan.com.au.
STILL in Victoria, Alla Wolf-Tasker executive chef and force of nature at The Lake House, Daylesford, is understandably full of joy that a member of her brigade, Jasper Avent, has been named as one of three recipients of the inaugural Thierry Marx Career Development Award, sponsored by Restaurant & Catering Victoria for promising young chefs. Avent will travel to France and work for a month under the guidance of Marx at his two Michelin-starred Chateau Cordeillan-Bages in Bordeaux. Joining Avent will be apprentices Scott Stevenson of Pettavel Winery & Restaurant in Geelong and Samantha Gogol of Wild Oak Restaurant & Wine Bar, Olinda.
NOOSA’S Hastings Street, the Sunshine Coast town’s best-known eating precinct, is to get a local council and tourism industryfunded $9.8 million upgrade. Starting in July, the makeover will include ‘‘ a more pedestrian-friendly environment [while] quality seating and gathering areas are to be constructed’’. Such developer-speak aside, Hastings Street Association president Jim Berardo, of the splendid Berardo’s Restaurant & Bar and Berardo’s Bistro on the Beach, tells Detective it will be business as usual during the work, which will carry through to just before Christmas and restart on January 28 after the peak holiday period. Aromas Noosa, one of Hasting Street’s most convivial cafes and breakfast venues, is glamming up, too, with a revitalised interior, extended bar area and more emphasis on regional cuisine in menus created by Philip Johnson of Brisbane’s E’cco and Aromas Noosa’s Jules Santini.
FAIRFAX’S SydneyMorningHerald ’ s Good Food Guide Tuesday liftout has a new chief. TheDailyTelegraph ’ s food and wine editor Sue Bennett takes over from acting editor Melissa Gaudron on July 9. Britishborn Bennett, who has been with News Limited, publisher of TheAustralian and TheDailyTelegraph, for 21 years, says she has been a journalist almost all her working life and has undertaken myriad newspaper roles in NSW and Britain, specialising in food and wine about a decade ago. Bennett attributes her love of cooking to her mother, whom she describes as ‘‘ a wonderful home cook’’; she also says that spending time in food-obsessed France during her childhood was a factor in fuelling her passion. Fairfax’s gain is News Limited’s loss on this occasion and Detective wishes Bennett all the very best.
CONGRATULATIONS are also in order for Asian food guru Charmaine Solomon who was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. Detective first met the ever-gracious Solomon in the early 1970s when she was working on TheCompleteAsianCookbook and enlisted the assistance of Detective’s then husband, restaurateur Ted Kurosawa, with the Japanese recipe pages. The book has been referred to as ‘‘ the green bible’’ in Detective’s kitchen ever since, although its smart forest-green cover is now in sorry tatters and stained with remnants of curries and condiments past.
What many fans of Solomon’s food may not know is that her husband Reuben is a talented jazz musician. Detective likes to think her laksas and stringhoppers sing with extra flavour when prepared to a CD recorded by the Solomon family, with Reuben on alto sax and daughter Nina warbling Billie Holiday- worthy vocals.
MELBOURNE-BASED chocolate company Koko Black is opening its sixth chocolate salon and the first outside Victoria. You’d expect population-heavy Sydney to be the chosen site but, in a bold move, Koko Black is heading to the national capital. The ‘‘ European-style chocolate salon’’ opens in Bunda Street, Canberra, on June 21. This is no ordinary candy store with pre-packaged rocky road, nut swirls and soft centres. Koko Black’s ‘‘ on-site chocolatiers’’ will be handcrafting fresh chocolate produce (think orange and Cointreau truffles or milk ganache infused with chai) in open-plan kitchens. Koko Black founder, Shane Hills, says cosmopolitan Canberra is ‘‘ a natural new home for a chocolate experience so loved by Melburnians’’ and award-winning chocolatier Clarissa Louey, who began her career as a pastry chef at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne, has been appointed Koko Black Canberra’s resident chocolatier: now there’s a job description for the career wish list. www.kokoblack.com.
FIND of the week: Sydneysiders be quick: Simon Johnson Quality Foods is having a warehouse clearance today. Head to 24a Ralph St, Alexandria (corner of Doody Street) for up to 75 per cent off selected gourmet items, including olive oils, pasta, herbal teas and preserves.
DETECTIVE loves: Adam Foster’s limitedproduction wines from Heathcote, Victoria, under the Syrahmi label. Not a doddle to find, but the utterly delicious Syrahmi V2 Shiraz 2005 is available for $42 at www.eastendcellars.com.au.
The seven special teas served at Green T House, recently opened in Hong Kong (a spin-off from the Beijing original). Who can refuse a cup of cha with a name as lyrical as Sword Green Jade or Tranquil Spirit? 208 The Arcade, 100 Cyberport Rd, Hong Kong; www.green-t-house.com.
DETECTIVE loathes: The pepper grinder saga continues. Last week’s rant to waiters who wield giant grinders but refuse to leave them on diners’ tables has drawn 100 per positive reader response (that is, you all hate this proprietorial nonsense as much as your Detective columnists). Michael Jones of New Farm, Queensland, sums it up by declaring he will take his own pepper grinder to restaurants to make the point.
Off to France: Avent