Half-century milestone prompts chef to find new fish to fry
CHEF Neil Perry, a man perpetually on the move, is moving away from fine dining. He tells FoodDetective that, after ‘‘ chasing fine dining for 25 years’’ (19 of them at his Sydney restaurant Rockpool), he is now focused on ‘‘ great dining’’. The refocus has brought on his decision to reshape and rebrand Rockpool.
When Perry announced the restaurant’s 12-day closure (from October 20) earlier in the year, it was to renovate. He was still thinking fine dining, he tells Detective . But the success of Rockpool Bar & Grill in Melbourne has intervened, as has Rockpool Sydney’s frustrating failure to regain a third hat in the 2007 TheSydneyMorningHerald Good Food Guide Awards.
Flexibility and accessibility are his new catchwords. Perry now feels more comfortable, he says, serving a beautiful slice of cheese or ham to guests; perhaps it’s a coming of age, having just turned 50.
Melbourne RB & G is Perry’s idea of great dining: people can spend up (on lobster or abalone), or not. Sydney’s new-look Rockpool, opening early November with a new name— Rockpool Fish has been flagged — will have the same open feel.
Seafood will be the focus: oysters, sashimi and some ‘‘ old Rockpool favourites will be coming back’’. And diners will be able to determine the preparation of their choice of fillets, whole fish or shellfish. Perhaps plain grilled, with herb butter, steamed with red curry, or breaded and fried if that fits ‘‘ the protein’’, as Perry puts it.
Meanwhile the hot Melbourne concept is headed for Sydney and depending on council approvals, Sydney RB & G should open on the corner of Hunter and Bligh streets between April and June. Perry also still has his eye on London, and ‘‘ would love to do something there’’; probably another bar and grill. www.rockpool.com.
DENG Huadong, owner of two Shanghai restaurants, a master of Chinese cuisines and a specialist in Sichuan food, is visiting chef at Silks in Melbourne’s Crown Casino until October 7. Banquets will be flavour of the moment, and will include dishes such as sauteed prawns with dragon well tea. From $55 lunch, $98 dinner, or a la carte. On October 3, an eight-course banquet matched with premium cognacs— Flavours of Sichuan and Remy Martin — will cost $198 a person. www.silksatcrown.com.au.
LITTLE Kitchen harbourside restaurant at Sydney’s Park Hyatt last week hosted a foretaste of Tasting Australia, South Australia’s biennial food fiesta (October 13-20). Hyatt Regency Adelaide chefs Laurent Pommey and Jason Camillo, with an inspiring blend of world experience and youthful enthusiasm, flew in for the day to show off SA’s produce. Detective recommends a trip to SA to taste delicacies such as Port Lincoln king fish, Streaky Bay scallops, Coorong Bay black angus beef and Barossa pork, not to mention the wines and a visit to Hyatt Regency Adelaide to savour the chefs’ brilliance. www.tastingaustralia.com.au; www.adelaide.regency.hyatt.com.
QANTAS Wine Show of Western Australia has its finger on the pulse of the state’s wines. As the only show to judge WA wines exclusively, it compares regions, noticing changes and emerging labels. An awards dinner on October 23 will celebrate the show’s 30th year. It has grown from 26 entries in six classes to last year’s tally of more than 1200 wines in 40 classes.
The chief judge, Travel& Indulgence ’ s own James Halliday, will speak at the dinner on the Australian industry, WA’s place in it and our place in the world. Five courses matched with premier trophy-winning wines from last year’s show, $175. Hyatt Regency Perth will hold a top 50 tasting linked with the show on October 31. For both events: www.wineshowwa.com.au.
and been appearing in LexusYoungChefofthe Year on Foxtel’s LifeStyle Food channel. The programs follow state finalists on their prize
COUNTRYWIDE contenders for Lexus young chef of 2007 ( Travel&Indulgence , August 18-19) — Kyle Quy, Jenna Abbruzzese, Nicholas Hill, Melanie Gowers, David Flukes Damien Bolger — have trip to WA, through to the winning announcement. There are two (of four) episodes to go; Thursdays at 9pm. www.youngchef.com.au.
VISITORS to SA should plan for a long weekend of fun at Coonawarra’s Celebration of Cabernet, on October 19-21. The region’s 20-plus wineries will be hosting more than 30 events: master classes and music, dinners and vineyard tours, topped off with a barrel auction of the finest cabernet sauvignon from the 2006 vintage. www.coonawarra.org/events.asp.
SERIOUS sides are lining up in the Sydney bar battle. It’s Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, interested bar flies and now the Property Council on behalf of developers (who want to put the city’s vibrancy and economy before ‘‘ politicking’’) against Premier Morris Iemma and the Australian Hotels Association (on behalf of pubs and clubs). The issue is Moore’s Small Bars Bill which would allow small bars to exist by cutting the costs of licensing. Detective watches with bated breath.
TOMATO files: Readers are registering their discontent with the plight of the tasteless tomato ( FoodDetective , September 22-23). More next week.
FIND of the week: The Wine Map of Victoria by Max Allen ($14.95). Put together by wine writer Allen and cartographer Martin von Wyss, this detailed, double-sided, foldout touring map identifies the state’s main winegrowing regions against an overview of topography and climate, and lists more than 900 vineyards and cellar doors. www.australianwinemaps.com.
DETECTIVE loves: From now until March we are in asparagus season: green (the spears we mostly see here), white (a great delicacy in Europe for its brief season), purple (from England and Italy, also unusual here), and wild asparagus, a treat for those who know where to find it. Happy eating.
DETECTIVE loathes: Fashionable food dogging her steps, from restaurant to restaurant: foam, for example. Food fads, such as fondue, are fine, though Detective wonders whether retro fads aren’t just another fashion.