This post was originally published on our site – My City Life, way back on 26th March 2014.Click here to check out some of the visual delights of the night here at our gallery
Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Jane Austen’s Emma and Coco Chanel’s parfume No 5, will last the test of time, immortalised in the pages of history. And while the arts, music, literature and fashion certainly have their masterpieces, chefs are emerging for their culinary artistry. And so comes the Grand Prix for chefs, The Bocuse d’Or. With 24 countries participating, this biennial chef championship was launched by France’s greatest chef Paul Bocuse in 1983 and remains one of the world’s most prestigious cooking competitions. A chef’s selection to represent their country at the Bocuse d’Or is equivalent to being in the Olympic team.
And so in August, chefs from all across Australia met head to head in a fierce cookoff designed to emulate the real Bocuse d’Or with local kitchen whiz, The Brisbane Club’s Executive Chef Shannon Kellam, emerging the victor. With the Australian laurel wreath now firmly positioned on Shannon’s head, the Board for the Bocuse d’or Academy Australia will oversee Shannon’s preparations for the d’Or comp in January 2015, including a host of dinners and events designed to put Shannon’s skills to the test while raising the funds that sees him reach France.
From premium dining establishment Urbane Restaurant, Bocuse d’Or Australia presented a dinner to a very select and intimate group of 20. A dazzling seven-course menu jointly curated by Shannon and Urbane’s Executive Chef Alejandro Cancino, with wines paired by Urbane’s Sommelier Sarah Ramwell, saw an evening replete with exquisite cuisine and tastes.
The canapes devised by both Alejandro and Shannon served as a provocative initiation to this fine repast where smoked cobia and rye was served alongside a draft of hot and cold lemongrass with watermelon. The hot and cold lemongrass fluid with watermelon was a revelation, as a sweet-tempered heat gently replaced the initial coolness of this remarkable liquid starter while the watermelon provided an additional pleasing texture that proved both fresh and luscious.
The subsequent carpaccio of the delicate smoked fish, matched to a glass of Louis Roederer Champage further piqued the tastebuds.
The first appetiser was left in Shannon’s more than capable hands, where fruits of the sea would further beguile and impress, coordinated with a Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay (2012). Brined and poached blue-eye trevella served with a Hervey Bay scallop on a king crab mousseline and smoked fumet, next to apple cucumber, radish, fennel and roast lemon. This tender dish shone a spotlight on bright fresh tastes where the fish felt succulent and pristine on the tongue alongside the seared lushness of the scallop. Subtly augmented by the light and foamy flavouring of the king crab mousseline and smoked fumet; the addition of the roasted lemon highlighted the crispness of the apple cucumber, radish and fennel a crunchy balance to the softness of the seafood; all intensified by the Chardonnay’s nectarine and cumquat tones.
The second appetiser by Alejandro of Galston Farm duck breast with beetroot and quandong was simple and compelling, the dark fruits of the 2009 Chateau Des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent Beaujolais adding to the moistness of the duck, brilliantly offset by the sweetness of the small Australian fruit and beetroot. Meanwhile, the elementary characters of the dish were blissfully harmonic on the palate and the eyes.
Shannon’s main course of slow-cooked Stanbroke Yearling beef fillet with beef cheek bordelaise, Rougie foie gras, potato, artichoke, seasoned vegetables and jus crisp was certainly hitting the substantial part of the banquet, the 2011 Heathcote Estate Shiraz a spicy adornment. It was a generous and hearty plate, serving as a vivacious climax to the evening. The opulence of the foie gras was nicely muted, the beef cheek bordelaise graciously saturating the plush beef with the jus crisp a crunchy annex, while Shannon’s version of steamed dumpling shaped by bone marrow and herbs a tribute to his incredible technique and innovation in cuisine.
Alejandro’s pre-dessert of pink lady apple and lemon verbena settled the tongue, the sorbet cleansing and restorative for the final course, with the 2011 Vietti Moscato d’Asti Peidmonte further enhancing the purity of this course.
If the previous courses had been discoveries, dessert was an epiphany. A Maleny fromage blanc circled by a sphere of white chocolate was plated alongside almond pudding, raspberry, mint and spiced granola and a pear and rhubarb gelato. The fromage blanc and white chocolate was an unexpected but immaculate delight as the moist almond pudding and crispy granola symphonised wonderfully with the creaminess of the gelato. Alongside the 2009 Chateau Roumieu Sauternes, dessert was nectarous but not cloying in its sweetness.
On this evening, the palate was treated to a resplendent comestible orgy, where the appetite was appeased and enlightened and the thirst simultaneously doused and delighted. But it was the visual impact of this fine feast where the dishes’ presentation and the ambience of the room was as much a glut as the food itself, seeing diners drawn into an enchanting erudition that enticed and routed the senses. This reception demonstrated that while the competition will test Shannon Kellam’s formidable skills, there remains no doubt he is a worthy opponent in this cuisine challenge.
Photo Credit: Lady Lex