Last weekend my husband & I decided to head to the Melbourne Good Food & Wine Show at the Exhibition Building in the city. I had never been to a Food Show, of any kind, before but thought it would be good to check out. You never know, I just may find some inspiration, especially with all the local produce available.
The highlight, and inspiration, for me was the Masterclass with Jacques Reymond. He prepared 3 dishes for us – a strawberry dessert, a lamb dish and pork & cuttlefish dish. Thank you to Everyday Gourmet, The Grazing Panda and A Chronicle of Gastronomy for their beautiful photos.
Jacques Reymond is legend status when it comes to Australian chefs who own successful Australian restaurants. He has had a total of 80 hats in his career (The Good Food Guide in Australia, list the best places to eat in Australia. Chefs hats are awarded to outstanding restaurants.) He fell in love with food and cooking at the age of 11 in the UK and came to Australia in 1984. Three years later he opened Jacques Reymond – cuisine de temps, in Richmond, Victoria but was looking for a more permanent premises. He found the perfect mansion in Prahran, Victoria and called it ‘home’ for the next 23 years, only handing over the reigns to his two head chefs late last year.
Seeing Jaques cook was truly an unbelievable experience that not a lot of people get to see. The theatre was full, about 80-100 people sitting down for the privilege. Many people stood around the outside of the theatre, but we were some of the lucky few who could see and hear him clearly!
He describes his cuisine as contemporary Australian with an Asian flair, using only the freshest of ingredients available.
Listening to Jacques talk as he prepares and cooks his dishes, you can’t help but feel passionate about cooking and great produce. He certainly loves what he does and ensures every dish that leaves his sight is 100% perfect, both in flavour and presentation.
Looking through all the ingredients Jacques uses, I realise they are all staple Asian products, which I pride myself in having in my pantry – star anise, cinnamon sticks, soy, hoisin & oyster sauces, chilli, coriander, garlic, shallots, spring onions, ginger, ground cumin, kaffir limes – zest and juice, lemongrass, fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves.
He starts by preparing the dessert, which looks amazing and oh so simple! I recorded most of his Masterclass, but missed the first 10 minutes about preparing the dessert. But I did find the recipe and looking forward to preparing this for my next dinner party! More on the dessert later.
Jacques asked a question during his class about garlic and bad breath that was quite informative. Why do you think we sometimes burp garlic or have garlic breathe after we eat it? He says that no one ever walks out of his restaurant with those problems – why? He slices the garlic clove in half and removes the core (the small green bit). That green bit can be bitter and causes reflux – no more green core, no more smells! Amazing!
Don’t ever, ever, ever chop your fresh herbs – this is criminal! He says cooking shows and chefs on TV who chop their fresh herbs are leaving their cutting board aromatic – all the natural flavours have been soaked into the chopping board. Always slice, with a sharp knife, your fresh herbs. The flavours and aromas are then in your dish, not chopping board! Breaking herbs with your fingers is fantastic too.
Lamb backstrap in Asian marinade with kale and roasted onion. Such an easy dish to bring together and of course, looks amazing! So many tips and secrets he shared, here’s what I remember:
- When using Asian flavours, there’s no need for salt on the table (he never has salt on the tables in his restaurant). Soy, hoisin and oyster sauces have plenty of salt already.
- Roasting a white onion on a bed of rock salt, caramelises the onion and brings out the natural sugars – you have never tasted onion like this before!
- Marinate the meat prior to cooking and have a second bowl with the same marinade for placing the meat in after cooking. While resting, the meat absorbs the marinade and keeps the meat succulent.
- Never cook your meat on the BBQ or pan on high heat! This is ‘criminal’! Always keep the heat low to medium, turning frequently. This allows the juices to stay in the meat instead of escaping and drying it out!
- And lastly, never overcrowd the plate! Always use the juices from the meat and marinades to be your sauce – they’re the best bits of the whole dish!
Steamed pork belly with cuttlefish, Asian salad and crispy chicken skin – OMG!! I’m in heaven! My husband was drooling and I knew this dish was going to be something I make very soon! This dish takes three days, yes you heard correctly, three days to prepare but is a ‘melt-in-your-mouth experience! Here’s what I took away from this dish from the master:
- Soak the pork belly in brine overnight. Brine is wine, sugar, spices and vinegar.
- Next day, roast the pork belly on a low heat for three, four or six hours, covered, with carrots, celery, onions and garlic with some water and white wine. Cover and roast for time you desire.
- Once cool, place on a tray and weigh the pork belly down with a heavy tray. Place in the fridge overnight. When you remove it on the third day, you can cut the pork with a butter knife – soft, delicate and succulent!
- Now you can steam, deep fry, BBQ or eat the pork as it is. The pork belly is full of flavour and everyone will be asking you to make this again and again!
- Cuttlefish, calamari and squid are all different to one another. Jacques prefers the cuttlefish, even though it takes 17 chefs to prepare and cook this cuttlefish dish for a restaurant of people, he says cuttlefish is more delicate in flavour, but a pain to clean and cut!
Strawberries in a wine compote, served with a lime and black pepper chantilly cream! I know, how amazingly delicious does this sound! But pepper and lime in a cream? Works perfectly say Jacques – who am I to argue! I could make this right now for breakfast! (I should never write my post when I haven’t had anything to eat, makes me hungry!)
Tips for this dessert are:
- Soak the strawberries (cherries are great too, when in season) in the red wine & spice compote for at least half an hour, but no more than 2 hours, as you don’t want soggy fruit!
- Microplane – best American invention ever! Haven’t got one, get one!
- Add the lime juice to the cream and whip together.
- Don’t whip the lime zest with the cream – this will make the cream bitter!
- Add the lime zest and pepper to the chantilly cream just before serving.
- Garnish with broken basil leaves. Chives also work well.
WOW! Three dishes in one hour! (Ok, prep was done ahead of time but you know what I mean!) Who wants to come over for a dinner party? Well, give me at least three days to prepare but let’s do it! Hope you all got something out of those tips from Jacques.
Now it’s time for the book signing!! That’s right, Jacques Reymond signed my copy of his cookbook Cuisine du Temps! Awesome! For someone who’s been in Australia for so long, he still has a very strong French accent!
I have to say, if there’s ever a time that you have an opportunity to see any cook, chef or motivator for you, don’t hesitate, go see them. You won’t be disappointed! I have learnt so much from Jacques Reymond in that hour, possibly more than I have watching an hour of MasterChef Australia!
Who would you see if you had the opportunity? Would love to hear who inspires you to cook the way you do.