Rockpool Creative Council #1

Written on 13th September 2011
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Cooking is a great career for those who are hard working and have a creative streak. Yeah, you have to endure long hours, hot conditions, cuts and burns, and the occasional screaming boss, but the rewards are there for those who persevere.

A while ago Neil decided that he needed to harness the creative minds in the Rockpool Group, and not only the Head Chefs and Sous Chefs, but all the way down to the apprentices. He came up with the Rockpool Creative Council – an program where the younger chefs in the kitchen are encouraged to invent a a dish for the menu. Not only is this an initiative to gather ideas and harness the wealth of knowledge and creativity in the group, but also as a means of fostering the young chefs in the kitchen and really handing them responsibility. As a group, Rockpool employs over 500 people, including over 150 chefs – meaning there is a reservoir of ideas and creativity just waiting to be tapped.

So, last Friday was the first instalment of the Creative Council here at Bar & Grill Sydney. The challenge ingredient: Pigeon. The combatants: Ben and Corey.

The trick here is to create a dish that not only tastes good enough to make the menu, but also fits into the restaurant style and is achievable during service. Ben went for the rotisserie pigeon with skordalia and roasted almonds, pickled muscatels, smoked whitlof and herbs. As an unofficial taste tester, my tastebuds gave it a thumbs-up. Corey’s dish went along the lines of rotisserie pigeon, spiced date puree, with an orange, pistachio and mint salad. Also an excellent offering.

However, the final judgement was reserved for Neil and B&G Executive Chef Khan. And after much deliberation Corey was awarded the victory. Neil suggested a cumin and salt rub on the bird before it hits the rotisserie, and slightly under-ripe stone fruit to replace the orange in the salad with summer on its way. Look out for this one coming to a Bar & Grill menu near you.

I must apologise for some terrible camera work – trying to muscle in between the chefs at the end of a Friday lunch service can be tricky.. We’ll endeavour to bring you more of these challenges as they happen so you can see what’s happening behind the scenes in our kitchens.  

 Carving the bird…

 Ben’s pickled muscatels, smoked whitlof and almond salad

Ben putting down the skordalia

Ben’s dish being assembled

Corey’s dish – Pigeon, date puree, orange and pistachio salad

The taste test – Khan and Neil

Let’s just say there were a few interested chefs in the kitchen…