Rockpool est. 1989

Saturday, 10 October 2015

In the fish bowl. Mitch Orr, Dan Hong and a few other familiar faces! Clearly loving it.

The scene was set. Seven of Sydney's hottest cheffing talents were ready and raring to go. The occasion was the Josephine Pignolet 25th Anniversary Young Chefs Dinner. And I couldn't think of a finer place to host this special dinner other than Rockpool which, in its new incarnation on Bridge Street oozes style and substance. A handful of the previous winners were charged with delivering a dish each representing them and just how far they've come. It's a tough game, the restaurant business.

Let the games begin!

Established in 1990, the Josephine Pignolet Award recognises the accomplishments of young talented chefs. The award was named after the late Josephine Pignolet, the wife of Damien Pignolet, and cook herself. Going from strength to strength, the award is coveted and includes a placement in an overseas kitchen, flights and a substantial cash prize. Tonight, was all about celebration - reaching a silver anniversary and a showcase of the finest and innovative food in town. Following is a snapshot of some of those delicious eats. Enjoy.

Rockpool was in charge of the canapés and boy did they rock our socks off. Sea urchin on squid ink cracker and black garlic purée. Umm, okay Rockpool - this was kind of amazing

Drunken Storm Clam - yep, it just got better. I must admit many of us were scratching our heads as to WHAT this was (mollusc wise) but it tasted awesome, and the slightly tangy dressing made it a complete package. Possibly the best canapé I've had in my LIFE.

Mitch Orr - ACME, Rushcutters Bay
Burrata, burnt bread, tomato. Mitch Orr is certainly making a scene in Rushcutters Bay at ACME, reviving a little pocket of undiscovered 'hipster' Sydney. This dish was an exciting way to start - the burrata had an irresistibly creamy inside and the burnt bread an intriguing addition to the light tomato infused dressing

Dan Puskas - Sixpenny, Stanmore
Poached potato with oyster and mushroom. Daintily covered in razor thin slices of mushroom, the potato was covered in what can only be described as beurre blanc goodness. The powdered oyster had an extremely subtle flavour as a dusting

Hamish Ingham - Bar H, Surry Hills
Mooloolaba Bug Tail, pickled celtuce, yuzu kosho & wasabi leaf. I asked myself one thing eating this dish. Why the heck haven't I been to Bar H?!?! Silly woman. This was proabably my favourite of the night. The slightly cured bug (but essentially raw) was accompanied beautiful by an explosion of textures and flavours with a hint of chilli. Bravo

Dan Hong - Mr Wong, Sydney
Double boiled soup with kangaroo tail and baby abalone. It's bound to happen, you start to pit the dishes against one another and unfortunately this wasn't up there. The soup was consommé clear but there was a bitter taste to the broth that I just couldn't shake. Perhaps it was touch of pith from the lime? Not sure. The tail meat was lovely and tender, the abalone was decidedly not.

Mark Best - Marque, Surry Hills
Mark Best was almost like the captain of the cricket team tonight. A sort of mentor like figure who was commanding this ship. His effort was Bar cod, fish & milk scales, pickled shiitake. What a pretty little thing. The cod was amazingly soft and cooked well, pity that it was lukewarm! The garnish tasted very, how should I say this? Green.

Phil Wood - Rockpool est. 1989, Sydney
Hot and sour oxtail with prawn and coriander. Well, well, well, can't menus be deceiving. This was the most deceptively complex dish of the night. The soft, shredded oxtail meat had been stuffed in a prawn MOUSSE which was then poached. It was pretty damned impressive (but also needed to be hotter when it hit the table).

Lauren Eldridge - Marque, Surry Hills
Also, this years JP Award winner!
Blue Mountains wildflower honeycomb and cultured cream. This was a pretty clever little dish. Kept it simple, stupid. A premade honeycomb (mind you a pretty bloody AMAZING one at that) sitting on a dollop of cultured cream. Smash it all together and you have two elements marry together perfectly well. A winner amongst diners.

Survived! It was a wonderful show of skill and teamwork too. The collegial spirit in the kitchen was so great to see. Hats off to them for a fantastic evening. Wow.

Thanks for reading!
xGourmand
Rockpool Est. 1989 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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