How to describe the gathering under one roof, on the same night, of a clutch of the world’s best chefs? Many would say indescribable, others – a money can’t buy experience. At Rockpool – we call it “The Ultimate” and have done for quite a few years now.
The Ultimate Dinner 2013 was held last Saturday night, September 28, in the splendour of Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney. At what is now an iconic event on the annual calendar raising money for The Starlight Children’s Foundation, Neil Perry gathered culinary friends from far and wide to come together and cook the most superb of dinners.
Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal, now Ultimate veterans themselves were there – so was Grant Achatz, Ben Shewry, Phil Wood and Brett Graham. The chefs came with their talented teams and have been busy in the Rockpool kitchens this last week dicing, slicing, rolling and wrapping. Plates and bowls in huge numbers were sourced, Riedel chandeliers were polished to within an inch of their lives, uniforms pressed, cloths laid and fabulous Jo Malone and Qantas gift bags packed.
If seven of the greatest chefs in the world cooking dinner for you wasn’t quite enough, dishes were thoughtfully matched with some of Australia’s most iconic wines, with a cheeky guest appearance from Champagne and Sauternes.
The Ultimate Dinner Menu
Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next, Aviary)
Spencer Gulf King Prawns with Bush Tomatoes, Seaweed and Finger Limes
Ben Shewry (Attica)
Cucumbers, Holy Flax, Sauce of Trout and Burnet
Brett Graham (The Ledbury)
Roast Mulloway with Caramelised Cauliflower, Mud Crab and Kelp
Neil Perry and Phil Wood (Rockpool)
Wood Fire Roast Chicken, Zheng Shui Dan, Precious Herbs and Drunken Condiments
Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon, Ad Hoc)
Herb Roasted Saddle and Collar of David Blackmore Full Blood Wagyu with Shimeji, Mushrooms and Broad Beans
Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal)
During dessert, the incomparable Stuart Gregor from Liquid Ideas was our master auctioneer. Stu has been known to take no prisoners when given free rein to extract money from pockets to assist Starlight and Saturday was no exception. Our thanks to all those who gave so generously for the auction…and to those who purchased.
THE ULTIMATE DINNER AUCTION
The Sydney Dining Experience
Dinner for 12 in the private dining room at Barry McDonald’s newly opened Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria
The Dining Experience
A once in a lifetime dining experience for 10 – dinner cooked by Neil Perry, Guillaume Brahimi and Peter Gilmore in your home
The Ultimate BBQ Experience
The Everdure E7 Ultimate Outdoor Cooking Centre. To show you how to cook the perfect BBQ, Neil Perry and ben Shewry will be a guest chef at your home and prepare his favourite dishes with matched wines by Tyrrells
The Saffire Freycinet Experience
The ultimate Tasmanian escape for two – a luxury two night stay in a suite at the award-winning Saffire Freycinet, including return transfers from Hobart, breakfast, lunch, dinner, mini bar, selected deluxe beverages and a $100 spa treatment credit.
The Melbourne Experience
Tickets for two to the exclusive Formula One Paddock Club at the 2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix, including full catering by Peter Rowland, beverages throughout the day and two Pit Lane Walks per day; Qantas flights and two night’s accommodation at Crown Towers Melbourne.
The Ultimate Kitchen Experience
Your dream kitchen with a Blanco Kitchen package – Pyrolytic Oven, Steam Oven, Induction Cooktop, Canopy Rangehood, Dishwasher, Sink and Tap. Once installed, Neil Perry will be a guest chef in your new kitchen, cooking dinner for you and 9 friends.
Our friends at Canturi also donated an incredible raffle prize – Canturi’s interpretation of the classic heart in a unique white gold and diamond necklace design, valued at $7,000
A couple of surprise (very surprising) auction items then made their way forward…Thomas and Heston put their hands up to be flown back to Australia to cook a private dinner in your home (pick me!)…and then of course, the pony tail. Just when Neil thought the evenings auction was drawing to a successful close and he could kick back with a good glass of Bindi Pinot Noir, the microphone was kidnapped by Heston Blumenthal, as Thomas Keller quietly produced a ruler and a pair of scissors from his apron pocket. They had just one more item, they announced, as Neil went a shade of ghost white, but there was nowhere to run. Stu managed to raise an incredible $50,000 for Neil Perry’s pony tail (just 10cm worth!) as the crowd went a little crazy.
All in all – a huge success with the auction raising $175,000 and the raffle $11,300. With ticket sales at $1000 per head…we are yet to tally the final bits and pieces…but needless to say, we are thrilled and honoured as always to be able to raise this money for one of Rockpool’s favourite charities.
The Rockpool Group would like to sincerely thank our generous partners Qantas, Vittoria Coffee and the Park Hyatt Sydney. Our heartfelt thanks also go to Vic’s Meats, David Blackmore, Christies Seafoods, Fratelli Fresh, Simon Johnson, Victoire, Kinkawooka Prawns, Epic Wright Heaton, McWilliams Wines, Tyrells, Grosset, Sutton Grange Winery, Domaine A, Oakridge, Leeuwin Estate, By Farr, Bindi, Penfolds, Henschke, Ron Zacapa, David Doyle, Riedel, Steelite, Houston, Bambra Press, Bombora Audio Visual, Crown Towers, Australian Grand Prix, Jo Malone, Saffire Freycinet, Canturi, Blanco, Everdure, Michael Westrup and Grant Vandenberg. And a special thank you to our Photographer Ted Sealey who has captured the evening beautifully.
And finally, a huge thank you to all of the chefs, waitstaff and diners for making this wonderful evening such a huge success.
But It’s not over yet! The Ultimate Dinner at Rockpool Bar and Grill Perth with Australian Michelin starred chef David Thompson (Nahm, Bangkok) kicks off at 7 pm tonight. The question is, how much more hair will Neil lose?!