Tasting Australia Day 3

Tuesday was another late start for me, heading into town at 10am. Today was going to provide a bit of adventure, stars, and escape from the office. My first task was to accompany Thi Le to her cooking demonstration in Adelaide Central Market.

After compiling a running sheet for Talent pick-up for Nunce, Maddie and I met Thi and her sous chef, Mia in the Hilton Hotel Lobby. We strolled over to the Central Markets and Thi told us about how much she was enjoying Adelaide and Tasting Australia. This was her first time in the SA capital and she was mesmerized by how affordable the living was compared to the Eastern States. She divulged conversations with the other chefs that had involved opening restaurants in our small part of the country, given the grand interest received from the community and affordable venue rates. Going on a Primary Industries and Resources SA tour the previous day, Thi had thoroughly enjoyed Alexandrina Cheese Co. cream and was hoping to source some to take back to Melbourne with her that afternoon.

Arriving at the Central Market, we met with the Event Management team and Thi began to set up with her prep. The demonstration would take place in the Market’s Community Kitchen which faces a seating area of 30 and features overhead cameras so viewers have a birds-eye –view of the culinary creation. To the left of the kitchen area was a tasting area for Market produce. Today this included Poh’s Strawberry and Sweet Chilli Jam, home-made Hommus and speciality Butter from Jagger Fine Foods. The Strawberry jam was the definite winner for me – it was heavenly! The jam of your childhood; so fresh, light, and flavoursome. After indulging in the samples, Maddie and I went on a hunt for Alexandrina Cheese Co. products and the cream that Thi craved. After visiting several sites with our eyes on the prize, we located two vendors: The Smelly Cheese Shop and Say Cheese. Happily, we snapped a pic of the product and went back to watch the demonstration.

The demonstration went very well. Thi made her curried flounder dish, the most popular item on the menu at Anchovy. She showed us how she simmered the spices in creamy coconut milk to bring out the flavours and thicken up the sauce. Interestingly, she also gently bathes the fish in the liquid, giving it a decadent coating. I got a heck load of pictures of Thi and Mia, but not close enough to the dish sadly … the crowd was quite large, filling up the space and everyone there was keen to grab a small bite of Thi’s delicious fish, which intoxicated the room with heavenly aromas of spice and sweetness. When the demonstration came to a close, we took Thi and Mia over to Town Square to sign a whole stack of Tasting Australia plates (I’ll try to sneak a photo at some stage, they are quite magnificent!), then broke for lunch.

I was excited to see Simon Byrant in Charred, tossing together a spicy fish dish with rice; sustainably using the left over fish from the Glasshouse Dinner with Josh Niland, Katrina Armstrong, and Analiese Gregory the night before. He had a team of three, including himself and the scene was quite vibrant and lively. Simon had a solitary pan tossing the fish through with a selection of Asian spices before delicately tumbling the steaming meal onto a bed of rice. He had quite a selection of fresh fish to choose from: tune, mulloway and flathead. The line-up was huge! How could I say no?! I selected tuna and flathead and stared on, wishing I wasn’t so shy, and could have video-ed the entire experience.

Simon is such a fascinating person. I would love to sit down and interview him one day. He is so passionate, creative, and dynamic. He thinks fast on his feet, is very flexible, friendly and obliging. Plus his naturally sustainable nature, and fresh approach to keeping it real, despite his celebrity status is so inviting and welcoming. I would be absolutely delighted to have a one-on-one conversation with him in the future, perhaps I’ll get the courage to ask … Until that day, I would proudly take my unique and exclusive Simon-created lunch back to the event office to savour and dream.

After lunch I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on post event feedback for the Great Wine Voyage. There was much excitement around the office for the evening’s Glasshouse Kitchen event which would feature Marco Pierre White cooking alongside Clayton Wells and Jock Zonfrillo. Maddie and I banded together to retrieve all 150 copies of White Heat back at the SATC office, as these were going to be given out as gifts to the attendees of the dinner. Man they were heavy! The book is huge! We transported them to Town Square where we met Tess in the Glasshouse area, and set the books out for later in the evening. I found out the next day that after the dinner was served, Marco had actually gone around to each guest and signed each copy of the book! Such a generous gesture! I’m sure the guests were absolutely thrilled with this, he genuinely did this out of the kindness of his heart. I guess all that talk about his tyranny is just for show and drama; I’ll bet he is a real sweetheart inside (which, unknown to me, I was about to discover the following night …).

We crammed a lot in for half a day on the job, but it was an absolute delight. I jumped on the bus at 6pm filled with gratitude and a warm buzzing feeling of a vibrant and interactive day.

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Author: Narelle Pignotti

lover of words . travel junkie . fundraising advocate . community spirit . photography enthusiast .

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