If you enjoy eating fine food I suspect cooking might be a passion or at the very least an interest in how great dishes are prepared. I readily accepted an invitation to an Electrolux Cooking School Masterclass at Vic Market. The class was conducted by Peter Gilmore from Quay in Sydney. Quay is probably Australia’s top restaurant (3 hats for over a decade). The classes limit the number of attendees so it is a great opportunity to see a creative and passionate chef up close and discuss their approach to cooking.
Peter creates dishes with an intense commitment to the quality of ingredients and to the intricacies of preparation and presentation. Presentation appears quite simple, but it is the balance of flavour, colour and texture which creates an exhilarating dining experience. Peeling and horizontally slicing shitake mushrooms requires patience and skill; infusing milk with garlic to create a silky custard needs planning; cooking globe artichokes so as to discard the artichoke and use the skins as a garnish seems highly indulgent, but this is typical of Peter’s no compromise to his cooking. His dishes also feature large quantities of clarified butter, steaming and slow cooking. The dishes all tasted exceptional. The appreciation is certainly increased by knowing the many steps and ingredients required to make a dish that looks simple, but impacts the senses on a number of levels.
I learnt a lot at the Masterclass, but am unlikely to try and create any of the dishes tasted because of the sheer labour intensity of the dishes. However, one dish to try at home is the French Toast. Peter made his own brioche, but you could use a vienna loaf for this dish. In a bowl beat egg yolks with white sugar, add vanilla bean and milk. Soak the brioche in the custard mixture for 30 secs and then wrap the soaked brioche in baking paper and steam for 3 mins and set aside. In a pan place 200 gms of white sugar and turn heat to high and allow the sugar to caramelise; add 100 gms of butter and turn heat to low. Unwrap the brioche and cook in the caramel for about 1 min each side. Peter topped the caramelised brioche with a wild cherry compote, but you could use any berries to make a compote. This is a relatively simple dish, but a real stunner.
Perhaps I will check out www.dialaflight.com for a deal to get me to Sydney to visit Peter's restaurant. In the meantime, I will be recreating this French toast as a special for Sunday brunches at home.
About the Author
Michael is a food and wine connoisseur and has recently started writing for Nouveau Potato. He also makes a delicious chocolate cake.