Things What I Learnt from Peter Gilmore

November 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

So I got to do a food blogger thing.

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a Masterclass at the Electrolux Cooking School in Queen Victoria Market. The class was to be with Peter Gilmore, the executive chef at Quay, Sydney. I had no idea what this would involve but having never been to a cooking class, I was keen to check it out. If I ever get anything else for free in my blog life I promise to articulate all my many feelings about advertorial, marketing, blogging and free market capitalism (you lucky things you). But for now I’m just pleased to have had this experience.

Well, I didn’t realise we’d be fed! Three courses! For myself and seven others, some media, some bloggers, including Agnes from Off the Spork who will no doubt have much nicer photos than me. It was pretty amazing. And a glass of sparkling followed by a rather mediocre cherry-sweet pinot noir from Devil’s Corner in Tassie. Mostly I learnt that in haute cuisine (wait, we say fine dining now, right?) clarified butter is king. Everything is cooked with clarified butter.

In particular the first dish, pictured at the top of this post, which was a “Gentle braise of organic pink turnips, prawns, octopus, diamond shell clams, baby squid, garlic custard”. So sweet and delicate and savoury, it really reminded me so much of the dishes that I found hard to understand when I was in Japan the first time, especially the savoury custards and the sweetness of food that isn’t dessert.

The second dish (above) was “Smoked and confit pig jowl, shiitake, shaved scallop, jerusalem artichoke, juniper, bay”. Damn. The pork was lovely (I would never not enjoy pork jowl) but the scallops were incredible. I’ve never had scallops like that before.

Finally we had a “Caramelised brioche with warm cherry compote” which was not a restaurant dish, but rather something Gilmore suggested might be nice for breakfast. I think…I would never in a billion years eat a breakfast of caramelised brioche, but hey, I’m not that into sweets (something I didn’t bother to mention to the man who brought the famous “Snow Egg” to Masterchef).

I think the other main thing I learnt from the experience, is how much is not used to make these kinds of fine dining dishes. The seafood and vegetables are all sliced and garroted until only perfect pieces are left. No home cook would do that. Of course, I’m quite sure they have a system for turning all the scraps into endless stocks and things, but it’s still hard to watch.

Oh, and at the very end I was given a copy of Gilmore’s mammoth and very pretty book, Quay: Food Inspired by Nature. I wonder what kind of person buys this book? Is it a coffee table book, or are there people who really attempt to cook Gilmore’s intricate and complex dishes at home? And if so, what is wrong with you?

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