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ROCKPOOL BAR & GRILL SYDNEY TURNS 5

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

AND IN THE BEGINNING…

It’s February 2, 2009 and Neil Perry writes in a blog on the Rockpool website…

All the beautiful doors are on upstairs and are just waiting for the glass. The carpenters should finish up there tomorrow. Barry, Sam and Andy, the foremen on the floor are working miracles with the contractors who are all putting in fabulous efforts. Even Jason who is managing the contract seems to think it may get there. Bill from Stoddard’s, the kitchen contractors is doing an amazing job trying to keep in front of the game, not easy with the pressure they have all been under. Friday is looking huge at Spice Temple and I’m doing the 20 year anniversary dinner at Rockpool on Saturday night. Then on Sunday I have to get stuck into the Rockpool Bar & Grill menus to make sure they are all perfect. I feel there are a couple of dishes that need to come off and a few more needing to go on. The last of the ground floor carpet is being laid tonight and the furniture will begin arriving on Saturday. The kitchen is getting closer to finish and the bar is starting to take shape. How wonderful it was to see some of the stone going on the front of the bar. The cool rooms for our wine have the viewing panels cut out and the large glass doors have gone in, just after they pushed the BBQ through the only hole it would fit through in the building. This area has changed dramatically in the last 4 days since they started putting the ceilings in. Tomorrow the wood-fire and charcoal grills move into position.  It is thrilling at the moment as things change daily.  The builders are doing a fantastic job, every trade is pushing as hard as they can to get changes happening not just daily, but hourly. We have an ambitious plan, a dining room menu of over 70 items, a wine bar menu (home of the Wagyu burger) with 40 items and a function menu upstairs with two gorgeous private rooms. No doubt there will be times over the next few weeks where I will wonder why I have done this.  Lots of drama to come, staff training starts in a week and a half, I can’t believe this dream is becoming a reality. One week after we open I have to put together the Ultimate Dinner; to have 2 super-star international chefs, in the form of Heston Blumenthal and Thomas Keller coming in to work alongside our own great chefs Tets, Guillaume and Peter in the Rockpool Bar & Grill kitchen – its daunting! We will do it – we have a great team, but what a hell of a couple of months we are all in for.

Neil was barely pausing to draw breath as the build of the iconic Rockpool Bar & Grill came to fruition, and he wrote as he lived and breathed at 100 miles an hour. Spice Temple downstairs had opened a short time before and was cranking – Rockpool down on George St was celebrating it’s 20th year and somewhere along the line it was decided that we should hold The Ultimate Dinner for Starlight in our gorgeous new dining room. So…open, breathe, prepare for Tests, Guillaume, Peter, Heston and Thomas and teams. Sure. Why not? It’s the way we roll!

A little while later, sometime in early March, Neil said to Simon Thomsen of the Sydney Morning Herald

The terror and excitement are the same “You’re always pushing, you always need more time and you’re struggling to get the builders out. First night comes and you wonder why am I doing this? It can be painful, frustrating and scary. I must be insane!”

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The Ultimate Dinner, about 3 minutes after opening, and a lovely letter from the CEO of The Starlight Children’s Foundation

Dear Starlight team and National Board members,

Last Wednesday night our Starlight Luminary Neil Perry raised $200,000 for our kids and families at the opening of his magnificent new restaurant, Rockpool Bar and Grill, in Sydney.  Neil and his fantastic team organised the most amazing evening called The Ultimate Dinner – the very best food and wine experience you can imagine in his beautiful new restaurant.  Our wonderful friends Qantas Vittoria Coffee and the Park Hyatt Sydney were the major sponsors.

Qantas flew in Thomas Keller from the French Laundry in the Nappa Valley and Heston Blumenthal from The Fat Duck in the UK and our own Australian chefs, Tetsuya, Guillaume Brahimi, Peter Gilmore, Catherine Adams and of course Neil, gave us a food and wine experience the guests will never forget.

Our incredibly generous friend Stuart Gregor conducted a fantastic auction and Neil’s guests rose to the occasion.

Please join me in sending our thanks and appreciation to Neil, Sarah and his fantastic team, all the generous chefs, Qantas, Vittoria Coffee, Park Hyatt Sydney and Stu Gregor for ensuring many more children and families will receive Starlight’s love, laughter and support.

AND THUS BEGAN…

Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney, celebrates its 5th birthday.  Here’s a look at a little of what makes the girl tick.

THE BUILDING

Housed in a building of extreme art deco finery designed by Emil Soldersten and built in 1936, it was the home of City Mutual until all came crashing down in a financial crisis of years gone by. The building itself is surely one of Australia’s finest of the art deco ear. Architects Bates Smart stepped in, took a look at the ceiling heights in excess of 11 metres and thought…yes, we know just the thing. The room became a rich and indulgent collection of leather, marble, steel and stained oak. All fittings were custom-designed, and soon the smells of the wood fire grill and superbly dry aged beef was wafting up Hunter St distracting all those financiers at Deutsche.

THE PEOPLE

Jeremy Courmadias, General Manager

John Lethlean of The Australian wrote of Jeremy in 2009…

Jeremy Courmadias was never going to struggle for a restaurant job back home in Australia. The only issue was going to be the right job. With a total of seven years at London’s Caprice Holdings, operators of institutions such as The Ivy and J Sheekey, including three as general manager of the company’s flagship restaurant Le Caprice, the Melbourne-raised one-time waiter had a CV and skills earned in one of the world’s most sophisticated and buoyant restaurant markets. Any local restaurant operator would kill for a manager of his experience”.

Enough said. Five years n and ‘JC’ is firmly ensconced as living, breathing Rockpool furniture.

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Tom Sykes, Restaurant Manager, Maitre’D

Tom was always going to be the familiar face at Bar & Grill. Restaurant Manager at the flagship on George St for many many years, he is much loved by all who work with him and all those he looks after in the course of his daily grind. This is a man who truly loves what he does and it shines through. In 2010, Australian Gourmet Traveller awarded our Tom the Maitre D’ of the Year award.

The unflappable nature and good grace of Tom Sykes had long been one of the original Rockpool’s grounding elements. Now, at the new Bar & Grill, he is both front-of-house and field marshal, attending to the personal peccadilloes of instant regulars just as he coordinates coverage of one of the city’s most formidable dining rooms.”

Neil AM  Tom

Michaël Engelmann, Head Sommelier

A native of Alsace-Lorraine, France, Michael has been the Head Sommelier at Bar since November 2010. To us, Michael is the caretaker of the ‘vault’, the protector of ‘the list’ and the leader of the team of 8 passionate and talented wine professionals.  Michaël’s CV pre-Rockpool is filled with restaurants of legend and more than the odd Michelin star. His accreditations are even more impressive, including being named the American Sommelier Association’s Best Sommelier in America 2009 and being voted one of the five Best New Sommeliers of 2009 (rising stars) by Wine & Spirits Magazine. In July 2011, in one of his personal and career highlights, Michaël passed the highly regarded Master Sommelier examination (there are only 200 master sommeliers in the world) on his first attempt with the highest exam score overall. A rare feat for which he was named the coveted Krug Cup winner, a designation shared by only 14 other Master Sommeliers worldwide. Lucky to have him? Oh yes.

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Corey Costelloe, Head Chef

Corey nurtured his instinctive love of food as a teenager by taking high school jobs as a kitchen hand and helping his uncle at Flemington Markets on Saturday mornings, hiring out barrows and trolleys. His cooking career in earnest began at the age of 18 as an apprentice chef, eventually earning hs chefs whites at Catalina Rose Bay, the place he also first worked with ex Bar & Grill Head Chef Angel Fernandez, a mentor to this day and a man he credits with teaching him how to love food and “eat like a chef”. With years of great experience behind him and an innate love of seafood, Corey reunited with Angel for the opening of Bar & Grill in 2009 and his Rockpool career began, initially as a fishmonger, but before long he was back in the kitchen. After 4 years, Corey took over the reins of the Bar & Grill kitchen in early 2013 and has made his mark in short time with his uncompromising attitude towards quality produce and food.

Of course, anyone will tell you it’s the staff who make the place, any place and there are multitudes of them in this great building, from the reservation team busily booking tables and liaising with clients, to the incredible team in the bar who run the bar like clock work and never lose their sense of humour, and through to Atif in the dock loading and unloading the hundreds of kilos of produce that move through the doors, up the lifts, into and out of cool rooms and wine stores. Waiters, bus boys, apprentice chefs, accounts, admin, reservations and beyond, these are the working parts of the precision ticking clock.

Corey  Steak

THE BEEF AGEING PROGRAM

Our beef is sourced directly from the producers and dry aged on our premises. That means we have total control over the quality of the beef.

The dry aging process is important as it brings a better flavour to the beef than that of the more common wet aging in cryovac, which in essence is really preserving the beef. This however takes a big commitment as we have many tonnes of beef aging at any one time.

We believe that the four types of beef we have are representative of the best of their type in Australia. Blackmore’s Wagyu, Greenhams and Rangers Valley all fit into the strict Rockpool philosophy of humane treatment to the cattle. There are no growth hormones used and no antibiotic feed supplements. This is a rare thing in Australia today, particularly with the standard lot fed cattle. It is why we feel that Rangers Valley is the only grain fed cattle we could fit within our Rockpool philosophy.

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THE DISHES

Our extensive menu has many a signature. Yes, we are all about the beef – but don’t forget the phenomenal seafood that the Rockpool Group is famous for.  Don’t forget the incredible mac and cheese, duck fat roasted potatoes, octopus in pesto and prawn cocktail. Whatever you do – don’t forget the passionfruit marshmallows and the pavlova and for god’s sake do not forget the Wagyu burger!

Macaroni  Sliders  Pavlova

THE BAR

It is multi-award winning, stunningly designed and a place of worship, of sorts. Be sure, whatever you do, to abide by the house rules though…

Best manners and temperance are expected at all times

Don’t look fiercely at people, or talk loudly or harshly, but cultivate a smiling countenance and a quite, but firm tone of speech

Gentlemen, don’t approach ladies; and if you are so lucky to have one approach you, endear her as you would your mother

No hooting, no hollering

Don’t bring yourself into prominence before a crowd at the bar
Be polite and approachable, but let them advance to you

Gentlemen, don’t interrupt or join any conversation, but if it is general you may seem interested

Leave your attitude, with your hat at the door

Back slapping after six drinks should be tempered with mercy

Remember, nothing is on the house but the roof

The team in our bar are supremely talented, born of patience and great attitude and the ability to our a cracking drink! The cocktail list is almost as much fun to read as it is to drink.

There’s those stirred with love….

Presidente ~ Solera Rum and Sweet Vermouth lovingly stirred with Cacao and orange Bitters

Those with cute names…

Play it again Pierre ~ 18 year old Whiskey stirred down with Grand Marnier and a lick of Campari and Cacao

Those that describe a state we really don’t want to end up in later…

Zombie deluxe ~ Blend of 5 Rums, Lime, Grapefruit, Grenadine, Pernod, Falernum and Apricot Brandy served with flaming aromatic lime husk

And our section for ‘cocktails for revelry’ states this…

‘Boat Drinks’, or cocktails for that ‘just released from prison feeling’, for those who see in the bottom of a punch bowl a horoscope of gaiety, joy, revelry, carousing and happy madness.

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THE EVENTS

The Young Chefs Dinner, The Ultimate Dinners for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, The Great Gatsby Sydney launch party and too many to list; Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney is a place of entertaining beauty and grandeur. It is hard not to impress here, whether it is the greatness of ‘the rom’ itself or one of the beautiful, intimate and very individual private spaces.

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THE WINE LIST

To say we are proud of this list and its many great achievements and awards and the love and thought that has gone into it is an understatement. Australia’s most awarded list, it boasts Sydney’s most expensive bottle of wine – the 1945 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti at a slight the $89, 510.

Director and wine guru David Doyle describes the drop as ‘beyond spectacular” and suggests you splurge on a $39 free range chicken cooked over the wood fire grilled to accompany it, along with a Tuscan bread salad. Indeed.

The Wine Spectator Awards

A selection of quality producers along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style.  Their wine lists also display vintage depth, with vertical offerings of several top producers from major regions, or excellent breadth over several winegrowing regions.  They also typically offer 400 or more selections, along with superior presentation.” We nailed that one early on, then we really stepped up to the plate.

In 2010, we took home the big one.  Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney was names as the first ever recipient in the Southern Hemisphere to receive a Grand Award in the Wine Spectator Restaurant Wine List Awards, ‘the’ list honouring the world’s best wine lists. Held by only 75 restaurants worldwide, the Grand Award is given to restaurants that show “an uncompromising, passionate devotion to the quality of their wine program.  These restaurants all have passed rigorous evaluations, demonstrating that their wine lists, service, cuisine and ambience are worthy of the program’s highest honours.”

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THE AWARDS

In our year of inception, Time Out named us Bar of the Year and the following year the bar was vote one of the best bars in the world by Food & Wine magazine.

We’ve taken home 2 hats, Restaurant of the Year, Favourite Burger, Best Steak, Wine List of the Year (a few times!), 2 stars, 3 glasses, Best Aperitif List, Best Digestif List…to name but a few.

THE BOOK

October 1st, 2011. The Rockpool Bar & Grill cookbook is released. It’s a beauty.

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THE REVIEWS

They are many and of course, varied. Here are snippets from a few we love and treasure…

April 2009, Franz Scheurer, Australian Gourmet Pages

The food at Rockpool Bar & Grill is excellent and never comes across as too worked or too fancy. It’s substantial comfort food and the portions are generous. Desserts are outstanding and leave you sated and satisfied…

When Rockpool Bar & Grill first opened it had an appropriate wine list with a decent selection of wines by the glass. The team at Rockpool Bar & Grill has been working on a wine list, which should be implemented in the next few days, that is without a doubt, one of the world’s most extensive and interesting lists. I had the privilege of seeing the lists and they’re amazing…

This is a huge restaurant and I expected the service to struggle in these early days, but I was wrong. Service was smooth, professional and attentive without being overbearing…

All in all: Rockpool Bar & Grill is a fabulous venue…and be clear that this is, in my opinion, Australia‘s most beautiful dining room!

May 2009, Pat Nourse, Australian Gourmet Traveller

With its Art Deco glory and soaring atrium, Rockpool Bar & Grill is probably the grandest restaurant Sydney has ever seen.  It’s a steakhouse, but not as we know it…

Yes, it’s breathtaking.  Combining Citizen Kane-like scope with detail-work befitting Mad Men, it’s probably safe to say the new Rockpool Bar & Grill is the grandest restaurant in Sydney – and by extension the nation – has ever seen. 

Rockpool Bar & Grill does not aspire to challenge or provoke, but to please and assure: it’s a steakhouse.  But what a steakhouse.  The retro-corporate luxe look of the place, admirably executed by Bates Smart, doesn’t really place it high in the date-restaurant stakes, but it’s already a magnet for the great and good of the moneyed world.  Chef and co-owner Neil Perry is one of the trail-blazers of today’s Australian dining, but just to be clear, this isn’t a restaurant dedicated to advancing the cause of gastronomy.  Here they take the simple concept of grilling a piece of protein over a fire and burnish it with care and skill until it shines anew.  At the original Rockpool back on George Street they’re confiting suckling pigs and creating clouds of mandarin and poaching swordfish sous-vide with anchovy and jamon.  At the Bar & Grill, they’re shucking oysters, creaming silverbeet and charring meat.  They’re making drinks and grilling stuff which, at a bar and grill, seems fair enough.

May 2009, Simon Thomsen, Sydney Morning Herald

Let’s get the obvious out of the way.  This is Sydney’s most beautiful dining room.  A breathtaking, thrilling, dramatically gorgeous mix of art-deco panache and sleekly understated modernism with clever lighting, soaring three-storey high columns, shiny dark leather and sculptural towers of thousands of Riedel glasses.  They simply don’t make ‘em like this any more, especially in a city too eager to trash its heritage for a developer’s next shiny bauble.

Even in the open kitchen, the wood-fired grill has an ethereal shimmer as spotlights cut through the smoke.

Thankfully, Neil Perry’s multi milliondollar roll of the dining dice has the brains to match its beauty. Rockpool Bar & Grill is the expression of a mature wisdom.  It’s about uncompromising excellence, wealth and discernment – perhaps a touch of braggadocio, too.

May 2009, John Lethlean, The Autralian

Is it a Sydney restaurant? A Melbourne restaurant, lost? Or a Sydney clone of a Melbourne restaurant, conceived in Sydney in the first place?  The answer, of course, is all three.

Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney, is the spin-off that just became the main game.  The monster threatening to eclipse the justifiably famous little place in The Rocks that gave Australia’s most recognisable chef, Neil Perry, his first bouncy springboard.

If a sense of awe doesn’t clobber you passing through the magnificent glass and metal doors and into this cathedral of food, wine and the beau monde of Sydney, you’re quite possibly comatose.  The effect is profound. 

May 2009, Guy Griffin, the (Sydney) magazine

Neil Perry is a poster boy for Sydney optimists.  Just as we’re getting our dose of Old Testament punishment, he shows us the promised land: a place called Rockpool Bar & Grill .  This is how the milk and honey will taste after we’ve swallowed our gruel. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US

And so it goes…

It is Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney’s 5th birthday this month.

To celebrate Neil and chef Corey Costelloe have designed a four course menu of signature dishes, such as a selection of Dry-Aged beef and Catherine Adam’s famous passionfruit pavlova. This special 5th Anniversary Menu will give you the opportunity to dine on a selection of the restaurant’s best-selling and most popular dishes over the past five year sand is available now until Saturday March 29.

We do hope you will come one, come all…and come celebrate. We are so immensely proud of this beautiful, glorious beast and look forward to the next 5 years and all the great food and wine adventures that lie ahead, all the great memories yet to be created. Good work team! High five!

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HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY ROCKPOOL

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Today we wish our beloved flagship restaurant a happy 25 years.

Exactly how to define our ionic diner and what does it all mean? A quarter of a century…we’ve done so much, inspired and been inspired; times have changed dramatically and we’ve gone with the flow, sometimes not. It’s hard to explain exactly what a little ‘Rockpool-ness’ is, but it’s certainly a dash of determination, a pinch of decent cooking and a good glug of fine wine…that, and a tough skin.

Let’s take a look back at 25 experiences, people, situations that go just a touch of the way to telling our story…

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ONE
There will only ever be one. Rockpool. Just one…

TWO
2 people that are more Rockpool than anyone, Trish Richards and Neil Perry. Cousins, business partners, friends and co-owners. When you become a part of the Rockpool family, you truly do. Sure, there’s the odd bad joke from Neil and the odd scary 5 minutes in the office with Trish when you’ve overspent on glass washer detergent this month, but Neil and Trish have long exercised a loyalty to their staff like no other. You feel safe in their hands. Happy birthday you 2 – we hope you are extraordinarily proud of what you have created and how you have lived and loved it through the years.

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THREE
Hats. The 3rd one has been back for a few years now, but it’s no secret we shave had our struggles with the ‘hats’ over the years. We gain one, we lose one, we get frustrated and curse into space at those who giveth and taketh away – their ability to change the bottom line and whether such awards should carry such power. It has been a love hate relationship, no doubt about that.

FOUR
In 2002 we were named 4th best restaurant in the world. Neil travelled to London to accept the award alongside industry peers and such luminaries as Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, the late Charlie Trotter and Heston Blumenthal. Lasting friendships were forged with the greatest chefs on the planet and many would come to visit us in the years following as we cooked the now infamous Ultimate Dinners for Starlight. They still come…

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FIVE
It was 1988 at a long boozy lunch at Claudes restaurant when Neil Perry and winemaker Jeffrey Grosset got talking wine. Some time the following year, Jeffrey Grosset delivered his first case of Rockpool Riesling to George St and we’ve been pouring it ever since.

SIX
Restaurant critics (see point 3). Yes…hi Leo, Terry, Simon, we’re looking at you. We’ve loved you and ummmmm, not loved you so much in equal measure over the years but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, they say, and sometimes, just sometimes, we manage to turn you around too.

SEVEN
The chefs. There has been some serious talent across the pass. Phil Wood leads the brigade these days and far from the rising star we often call him (because he looks so young!), Phil is now well and truly established as one of the country’s top tier. Mikey, Kylie, Ross, Andy, Khan, Catherine, Amanda, Dave, the list is truly endless and a bottomless pit of talent.

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  EIGHT
Alessi pepper grinders. I’d like to say 8 is the number that has been flogged from table tops in the last 25 years but we can probably safely add a good zero or 2 to that. Classy, timeless, still with us.

NINE
The ramp at George St. Walk through the front door. Your gaze would head up the Rockpool ramp, tables dressed along the side, kitchen in full hum to the left. It was a little like walking our very own ed carpet or heading up the steps to receive your academy award. It made people feel a little special.

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TEN
The return of the trolley. The champagne trolley, the cheese trolley. We are bringin’ it back at Bridge St!

ELEVEN
The managers. Multi-tasking geniusses who can handle the weirdest situations on the planet and act like it was nothing extraordinary, built of rock and mortar with an incomprehensible ability to withstand stress…all in a days work, as such. Frase, Narelle, Terry, Tom, Silvio, Richard, Linda…this list extends my memory. Legends, all.

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TWELVE
Seafood. We’ve become known for many great dishes and events over time, but Rockpool was always and is still, very much about delivering the best seafood available. It’s our ‘thing’! From the sweetest un-dipped prawns to abalone, lobster, Murray cod, Dory and more. The best fishermen, the best suppliers, sublime cookery. That’s us in an oyster shell!

THIRTEEN
The Oyster Bar – it was there in 1989 in all its retro, shiny, mirrored fabulousness. It was there many many years later, an incarnation that was far more subdued in manner yet brighter and whiter and very very Sydney. It will always be a part of what we do.

FOURTEEN
Behind the scenes. It takes a lot and many to run a restaurant. Out on the floor, behind the high profile managers and chefs and hostesses dressed in black, there are hard working individuals polishing glasses, running dirty plates through dishwashers, stocking toilet paper, taking deliveries of fruit and vegetables and whole bodies of animals (that damn hatch!). There are human calculators adding up the bottom line and asking questions (hi Sue); men and women sitting on phones taking reservations and juggling tables, booking in private parties, explaining menus; waiters ironing shirts; PAs booking flights back and forth across the country and simply making stuff happen. It’s exhausting out there!

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FIFTEEN
Mr Hai. This is no list to focus on individuals. There are many many fantastic staff that have done their time, served well and left their print on the Rockpool stones, but Mr Hai left an impression on every single person he met and particularly those lucky enough to work with him. A kitchen hand who was so much more, our Vietnamese friend had quite the history and was with us from the very beginning until he died after a long battle with cancer some years back. Nothing was ever too much trouble and you would trust this man with you life. When he wasn’t creating precision order in the wet room he was out showing the rest of the team how it was done over late night poker and whisky sessions on a Sunday night. Always remembered.

SIXTEEN
The hatch. This one is for the delivery guys…and the poor chefs who stood below as the produce hurtled down. From the footpath, it looked like a fabulous old hidden doorway leading into a dungeon below George, full of mystery and stories and aged with legend. It was, in fact, a highly utilized, death defying trap door down which unknown quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, seafood and dry goods travelled daily. No regular old through the front door stuff for us!

SEVENTEEN
The signature dishes. They are many but there is a small group of Rockpool dishes created in the early years that remain on menus today – from George to Bridge and even gracing the menus of our other restaurants – the stir fried spanner crab omelette, date tart, Korean style tuna tartare…

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EIGHTEEN
The Rockpool chairs. Stephen Roberts designed them for us and they were with us till the end at George St, mere months ago. They deserve a spot in Australian design history in our opinion, but for now, will be a point of conversation at many a private dinner party across the nation.

NINETEEN
The sommeliers. Richard, Emma and all those that poured before you – what great dedication you show to your craft, and cheers to you guys for getting us on the Wine Spectator awards radar and keeping us there.

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TWENTY
In 2009 we turned 20. An incredible milestone for any restaurant, anywhere. So proud, we were…

TWENTY ONE
Our suppliers, growers and producers, past and present. These guys make us tick. They inspire us, grow for us, educate us. Way, way back at the very beginning, there were a few young guns out there starting to push the boundaries and things started to get exciting. As chefs, we were asking more questions of our suppliers and they were starting to get answered. It was brilliant. John Susman of The Flying Squid Brothers, Matt Brown of Matt Browns Greens – these guys became instrumental in sourcing quality product and there was suddenly no looking back. Serge Dansereau, chef at the Regent at the time was another instrumental individual, reiterating to all that we didn’t have to take second best and that buying local was the way forward. Today – we have the cream of the cream looking after us and delivering to our door and sometimes we go straight to the source. It goes a long way back and we could never possibly mention them all – but Will Studd, John Susman, Barry McDonald,  Vittoria, Victoire, Iggy’s, Vics Meats, Simon Johnson, David Blackmore, Cape Grim, Feather and Bone, Christies – these, but a drop in the ocean and that’s before we even start mentioning the wine makers. Thank you all, from the very centre of our heart.

TWENTY TWO
One beautiful producer who inspired us early is the incomparable Gabrielle Kervella. Gabrielle farmed goats that she loved like her children, made the most beautiful cheese from their milk, and we went on to create one of our most beautiful dishes with it – the original Rockpool goats cheese tortellini.

TWENTY THREE
The customers. Where would we be without you? You make us or you break us and you have made us, and made us happy. Our customers are second to none. Some visit a day, others a lifetime and we simply couldn’t do it without you. We like to say we are in the business of creating memories and feel we have created many a god one for these fine loyal folk. We look forward to many happy years with you.

TWENTY FOUR
In our 24th year we bid farewell to our first and only venue at 107 George St, The Rock and headed up the road to Bridge St. George St – we share beautiful memories and you’ll never be forgotten but Bridge – you’re a new time. We’ve been rebirthed and we look forward to the next 25 with you.

TWENTY FIVE
25 candles for us today.

Terry Durack wrote in a recent review of Rockpool…”it feels very…right”.

We couldn’t agree more Terry, couldn’t agree more. Happy birthday Rockpool!

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VALENTINES DAY

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

This year, Valentine’s Day is brought to you by Rockpool, and the colour red!

RED. Because red is romance, passion, roses and pinot noir, all of which we can offer, here or there, in some way or another, at Rockpool…

We can bring you enormously extravagant and completely swoon worthy bunches of ruby red roses, Italian sours, pannacotta with sweet, fresh red Summer berries, Spice girls with dusty beautiful faces in shades of scorching hot, the world’s greatest red wines and chilli. And if you truly want to impress your Valentine this year, then why not give the greatest gift of all….food! We give you, as our Valentine’s gift to you, Neil’s recipe for Strawberry and yoghurt cake.

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STRAWBERRY AND YOGHURT CAKE
Serves 12-16

200g polenta (cornmeal)
200g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
275g caster (superfine) sugar
110g unsalted butter, melted
600g plain yoghurt
200ml warm water
600g strawberries, hulled and chopped
Icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3).

Line and grease a 22cm cake tin. Place the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine and make a well in the centre. Add the butter, 300g of the yoghurt and the water and beat with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir through half of the strawberries and pour into the tin.

Bake for 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Place on a cooling rack and stand for 15 minutes before removing from the tin.

Once completely cool, top the cake with the remaining yoghurt and strawberries. To serve, dust with icing sugar.

NOTE: I like to use a square tin for this one, to mix it up. Plus it makes it easy to portion and this is a cake that lasts well for a couple of days – hold off adding the yoghurt and strawberries until just before serving.

Cooking Greats Named As 2014 Legends

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

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To say that Neil is proud to be named amongst these fine chefs as a Legend of Australian Cooking and as a recipient of the 2014 Australia Post Legends Award is something of an understatement. The stamps, featuring Neil alongside his much loved peers Kylie, Stephanie, Maggie and Margaret were released on January 17. Over to you Australia Post…

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Cooking greats named as 2014 Legends

Five legends of Australian cooking will today have the honour of being immortalised on a postage stamp as the recipients of the 2014 Australia Post Legends Award.

These Legends of Cooking have been recognised for their influence over Australia’s food culture and the visionary role each have played in shaping Australia’s palate and laying the foundations of our gastronomic success.

This year’s Australia Post Australian Legends, who were chosen by an industry selection panel, are the culinary greats Margaret Fulton OAM, Maggie Beer AM, Stephanie Alexander OAM, Neil Perry AM and Kylie Kwong.

Ahmed Fahour, Managing Director & CEO, Australia Post, said this year’s award celebrates five Australians who have each played a distinct role in the emergence of a sophisticated Australian food culture.

“These five individuals have taught Australians to appreciate our abundant fresh ingredients and to embrace the flavours of multiculturalism,” Mr Fahour said.  “They are not just cooks, but business-minded authors, teachers, TV personalities and restaurateurs. For this, they truly deserve the title Australian Legend.”

The 2014 Australia Post Australian Legends will be honoured at official Australia Day Council events hosted in all capital cities, with the first luncheon taking place in Adelaide today. Each Legend will also be presented with a 24-carat gold replica of their stamp.

Michael Harden, independent culinary writer and member of the industry selection panel, believes the current food culture we have in Australia would not have been possible without the input of these amazing and visionary cooks.

“The people on this list have been integral to the way we eat now, and their innovation, imagination and integrity will keep the inspiration going into the future. It’s enough to make you hungry just thinking about it,” Mr Harden said.

Australia Post Legend status is bestowed upon only the most inspirational Australians. These are individuals and groups that not only amass substantial bodies of work, but are inspirational and exemplify perseverance, devotion, integrity and compassion.

Margaret Fulton said:

“It’s a very nice honour. I’m getting older, and it’s a lovely feeling to say that you’ve wound up on a stamp.”

Maggie Beer said:

“I’m a sentimentalist and I’ve got every letter my mother wrote me while I was overseas, so being on a stamp makes me very proud. There have been so many parts of my life that I’ve had to pinch myself about, and this is one of them.”

Stephanie Alexander said:

“When I want to thank somebody for something special I always hand write a letter because I feel it deserves it and now I’ll be even prouder to put a stamp on it. I think it’s a great honour and I’m in some marvellous company.”

Neil Perry said:

“It is just such an amazing honour and I am deeply humbled to have been chosen. Monarchs’ and Heads of State are on stamps, as well as music legends like Barnesy, so to be named amongst them feels like an incredible achievement.”

Kylie Kwong said:

“I’m absolutely chuffed. I don’t even think it’s sunk in yet; I’m still digesting the enormity of it. It fills me with such pride and it makes me want to do even more for this country and to take what I do that step further.”

This year’s recipients will join an exclusive group of only 70 others awarded Legend status.

The Legends Award began 16 years ago when Sir Donald Bradman was the first living Australian to be honoured on an Australian stamp. Prior to that, the only living people honoured on our nation’s stamps were members of the royal family.

Today, the only other living Australians to feature on stamps are Australian Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallists.

Each Legend will feature on a 60c stamp, with all Legends featuring in a stamp pack, first day cover and set of maxi cards along with a commemorative book titled Australian Legends of Cooking, written by Michael Harden.

The stamps and associated products are available at participating Australia Post retail outlets, via mail order phone 1800 331 794 and online at www.auspost.com.au/stamps from 17 January 2014 while stocks last.

Kate in Paris

Friday, December 6th, 2013

The good thing about the Rockpool Group – is that our staff love to travel, and eat, and drink…then do it all again. It’s what we do! It’s why we work in the industry we work in and love it! We also love to share, and this one from the lovely Kate Grange from our Melbourne reservations team is an absolute peach.

Kate recently travelled to Paris to dine at ‘Le Jules Verne’ at the Eiffel Tower for a friends milestone birthday. Furthermore – it sounds like he copped the bill. Hearts bleeding everywhere….I know!

Take it away Kate…

Le Jules Verne, Sunday 21st July, 2013

My fabulous friend Erwin has for years been saying that for his 50th birthday he would take us out for dinner at Le Jules Verne, atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris, if we meet him there.

And so it came to pass that on a balmy Paris evening on Sunday 21st July, I was among the 16 lucky enough to join Erwin to celebrate this milestone birthday.

On arrival at the Eiffel Tower, you walk past the hordes vying to reach the summit and head to the exclusive elevator for the restaurant.

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A quick security check (possibly to dissuade anyone from attempting a Grace Jones style free fall a la 1985s James Bond – ‘A View to a Kill’ – parts of which were actually filmed in the restaurant – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiYzkvsVnV8 )…you then ascend in the lift to the restaurant level. Talk about an amazing arrival!  You are greeted by a bevy of wonderful staff who escort you to your table – ours happened to be overlooking Place de la Concorde, and are quickly presented with a glass of Alain Ducasse’s personal selection of Champagne.

Once the last of the party arrived (naughtily, this was me – who knew traffic would be THAT bad on the final night of the Tour de France?!) an Amuse Bouche of cucumber jelly with Langoustine and Crème Fraiche was served – a cooling and calming counter to the heat and craziness of Paris.

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The first course is Poached Blue Lobster with marinated vegetables set upon a clear gazpacho like jelly – one of the prettiest dishes I have ever seen.  Delicious.

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The next course is spicy Artichokes in a Bariguole-style jus.  Artichoke served several ways, including raw, poached, fried and as a foam.  A dish somehow delicate and hearty at the same time.  Both of these dishes were accompanied elegantly with a 2011 Domainy Faury Condrieu.

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Up next was seared Turbot, baby leeks and Gold Caviar.  This was a favourite dish for a lot of the guests on the night.  The Turbot was pleasantly firm and robustly flavoured.  The only minus for me for this dish (and indeed the entire evening) was that the caviar reacted with the solid silver of the cutlery (as verified by the metallurgist in the group!) leaving a metallic taste in the mouth.  Talk about a first world problem! This dish was accompanied by a 2010 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Chenrovettes Chateau Gert-Boulanger.

And then came the pigeon…

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Served with French style Fava Beans and green peas.  Perfection!  Midway through this course, waiters appeared with more jus, just in case we needed it, which we didn’t, but accepted nonetheless.  The pigeon was juicy and oh so flavourful – a real highlight – and accompanied by a delicious 2009 Chateau Montruel Pomerol.

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Now it was time for speeches and for the man of the hour, Erwin, to blow out the candles on his birthday cake – which was a delicate wild strawberry and pistachio Palet, also served individually to all guests.  The strawberries in general in France are luscious, and these were the best of the best, at the peak of their season.  In a word, sublime.

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We then adjourned to the restaurant’s private viewing balcony for some fresh air and to soak up the magic of Paris from 120 metres above the ground.  Paris is a palpably magical city.  If you do ever get the opportunity, do try to visit it at least once in your lifetime.  I promise you won’t regret it.

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After the fresh air, it was time for ‘second dessert’ a Crispy chocolate fondant cake in the shape of a rivet from the Tower, with hazelnut praline ice-cream, finished with gold paint.  Even though we were full, somehow we all managed to find room for this!   The chocolate fondant was accompanied by 2002 Banyuls Grand Cru Domaine Vial Magneres.

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To finish, petit fours, including (from memory) pineapple macarons, chocolate marshmallows, and coffee.

This was, without a doubt, one of the best meals of my life, shared with some of the best people in my life.  Thankyou Erwin, I shall cherish these memories forever. Bon Anniversaire!

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Neil’s October column for the Qantas Australian Way Inflight magazine…

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Neil Perry finds that the internet foodie universe offers cooks, consumers and critics alike a place at the virtual table.

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER?

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Neil Perry finds that the internet foodie universe offers cooks, consumers and critics alike a place at the virtual table.

Once upon a time, the culture of food was centred on award-winning restaurants and the chefs who ran them. The role of the consumer was simply to eat what was put in front of them. If they didn’t like it, they could vote with their feet.

Then, as cookbooks and magazines devoted to culinary pleasures began to proliferate, whetting consumers’ appetites for ever more food adventures, the power balance shifted. Restaurant-quality food could be cooked at home. Add to this the emergence of TV food programs and chefs began cultivating public profiles. Rather than being distant figures in funny hats given to kitchen outbursts, they were charming and cheeky, “naked” and saucy.

Emboldened, punters took the bait and vied to appear on foodcentric game shows that transformed them from kitchen hopefuls to bona fide stars almost overnight. For a while, it seemed as though everyone wanted to don an apron and start chopping.

Now, there’s a new ingredient in the mix – social media – and it’s been another game changer. Consumers wield real power now, in real time. The hierarchy has been flattened and anyone genuinely engaged with food – from restaurateurs and chefs to critics and avid diners – has a place at the table. Whether posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or a host of other platforms, consumers are also critics, educators and storytellers.

For my part, I not only consume food physically, but also virtually, through social media platforms, and I do so with relish. I follow people on social media who have a strong interest in food. I can, at any time, be eating with my eyes in the best restaurants in the world thanks to posts by chefs and staff, diners and critics.

I can view the experiments that might happen in René Redzepi’s Noma kitchen on a Saturday night, or learn where he likes to have a beer and a bite to eat after work in Copenhagen. I can observe David Thompson’s adventures with food in Bangkok, or know what Kylie Kwong is serving this Saturday at Sydney’s Eveleigh Market.

I have seen the tomatoes that will inspire Thomas Keller’s latest dish as they’re picked from The French Laundry garden. I know where I want to go next time I’m in Copenhagen because Katherine Bont’s food adventures have primed me. David Lebovitz, formerly of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, posts updates of his food experiences in Paris, several of which recently helped me decide where to eat when I got there. And many home cooks have shown me their wonderful endeavours and shared their thoughts, for which I’m truly appreciative.

Social media is a fantastic way for people around the world to belong to one big, marvellous food community, sharing a common passion and inspiring each other in the process. When I first became acquainted with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I thought I was getting involved in something that would help promote my business.

But it has become so much more than that. I can honestly say that I get as much enjoyment from flicking through Instagram each morning as I do from deciding what to have for lunch.

 

PHIL WOOD GOES TO CHILE

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

We seem to be on a roll. Staff are flitting off all over the planet – some in the name of R&R, some in the name of work, some in the name of ‘sent by Rockpool for fun’…it’s a tough gig, but someone has to do it I guess. And as long as the guys and girls are being inspired and learning and enjoying and being happy – and bringing back recipes and ideas and inspiration, then what’s not to love about these incredible incentives right?

Phil Wood, Head Chef of Rockpool on George went to Chile! Over to you Phil…

PHIL GOES TO CHILE

So I went to Chile. I had never thought of going until Neil said to me one day, “I am meant to be going to Chile, I can’t go anymore, would you like to go?” (editor’s note: dumb question chef!)…why not I thought, sounds like it could be fun. Turns out it was very busy but a great experience, and such a beautiful country.

Qantas now codes with LAN Chile airlines and flies three flights a week direct to the capital, Santiago. The flight is an easy 11 1/2 hours, just enough time to enjoy some inflight dining by the boss, watch a movie, have a little sleep and then wake up to the most beautiful sunrise coming up over the Andes. The scenery from the window as you fly in to Santiago airport is quite astonishing.

As I was picking up my bags, I met one of my travel companions for the week, Sally Feldman. As we cleared customs we were greeted by our cheerful host for the week, Prochile representative, Francesco. A quick drive in to Santiago where we checked in at our hotel, the W, just enough time to have a quick shower and then downstairs to have lunch and my first pisco sour, before a brief walk, during which we spent time in Sculpture Park and a local supermarket, where we encountered a lovely lady working in the fruit and vegetable department who was happy to let us taste some local fruits.

Day one and after a nice walk on a beautiful Santiago morning we were off on a guided tour of the city. During the trip we took in a local handicraft market and stopped at the top of Mount Christopher. Dinner that night was at Liguria, a great local bar/restaurant where we had our first taste of local Chilean food and of course a bottle of Carminiere.

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Day two was an early start we were off and running by four in the morning, on our way to meet the rest of our party at Santiago airport before flying south to Puerto Natales, then a four hour drive through an amazing but desolate landscape, and we arrived at the beautiful Hotel Singular in Patagonia. On the way we stopped at a road side diner that sold a South American specialty cake called an Alfajores.

The hotel Singular is an amazing place which was once a meat processing station, now seamlessly integrated in to a beautiful modern hotel. We had a “light” lunch, evidently portion sizes are quite large in Chile, and then it was a quick historical tour of the building, which in itself was quite amazing as throughout the hotel they have preserved and restored a lot of the old steam machinery that was used during the processing at the meat plant. Another “light” dinner a Calafate Sour, a local berry based pisco sour, and back to the room.

Another early start (made a little easier by my first taste of ‘mate’) – we were off at six in the morning on a tour of the beautiful Torres Del Paine region. Really breathtaking scenery, beautiful azure blue lakes, crystal clear rivers and sheer snow capped mountains punctuate the area, full of condors and a llama-like local animal called a guanaco, and a stop at the breathtaking Grey Glacier, where icebergs the colours of electric blue float along the river. Great crispy roasted lamb was for lunch today, served in the middle of a stark but beautiful national park –it  was quite an experience. Back at the hotel and for dinner I got to experience my first Pastel De Choclo, a great mix of chicken, mince, olives, eggs all topped with a puree of corn and baked; after that you sprinkle it with sugar, a crazy dish but really nice.

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The next day we were up and off early (yes, again) on a three hour drive back to Puerto Natales where Alfredo and I were scheduled to talk in front of culinary students at INACAP School. It was quite an experience. I’ve never had to speak through a translator before and to be honest I hope it all made sense. After that the teachers of the school cooked us a showcase lunch of Chilean specialties. It was very interesting and informative. After the culinary school we were back on a plane, this time flying to Puerto Mont.

Waking up to a drizzly day at Puerto Mont we had to cancel our visit to a salmon farm so instead we went to the town and had a quick nose around before we were scheduled to visit a culinary school called…’culinary’ . This was also very interesting as the head teacher here was Swiss, but really tried to be creative with the natural ingredients that are available in Chile. We had some fascinating snacks including seaweed with cheese, mussels as big as a hand and steamed barnacles whose real treasure was the liquid left in the shell after you take out the meat. We had lunch with the head teacher again, having a few specialty dishes of the area and then we were off to a salmon processing plant. It was interesting to see large format processing of farmed fish, incredibly efficient and sterile.

After that we drove a short way and visited a lamb abattoir. The most interesting thing I found about this is that they look to Australia and New Zealand as industry leaders and have tried to replicate the farming processes of Australia and the meat processing side of the New Zealand lamb industry.

After the abattoir it was back to the airport and off to Santiago and then a two hour drive to Valparaiso, when we finally got to our hotel at 11:30 after getting lost and driving round the city square three times. We were treated to a six course meal by the hotel.

The next morning we were off to another culinary school, where Alfredo and I did a cooking demonstration. This was a lot of fun as I got to cook with the help of a translator again. I think the students enjoyed it but who can be sure. We had lunch, again prepared by the school students and more local dishes from Chile. After the school we did a quick city tour of Valparaiso, an amazing city full of multi-colored houses and graffiti all over the street. Our last stop on the tour was at Pablo Neruda’s house, a crazy place of mixed architecture and cultural influence.

After the tour we went for a quick walk around the area of our hotel and found a little wine bar called Vino. The chef here had lived in Sydney for a few years and was very excited to have us. He had just been featured in Vogue Australia and you could see why, a charismatic guy, and the food was the best we had the whole time I was in Chile, local ingredients cooked well and a real tribute to the culinary past of Chile, great place.

The next morning it was up for a wine tasting at eleven – a great tasting put on by Vina Ventisquero, and their marketing manager Hugo. After that we drove out to their vineyards in the Casablanca Valley and had a walk among the vines, and then it was a lunch at a local brasserie style restaurant, a really interesting family run restaurant which has its own kitchen garden and only cooks produce that it can find locally and only serves alcohol that is grown or produced in the local area. After lunch the manager of the restaurant gave us some digestives which he produces himself, infusing alcohol with herbs for two years at a time, really fascinating flavor.

Back to Santiago and dinner with the members of Prochile. This was an interesting meal, each dish was cooked based around food described in Pablo Narudas poetry, but by this stage I think we were all a little tired and looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

The final morning of my visit to Chile I got up early to have a quick look around the Santiago fish and vegetable markets, lots of seafood that we don’t see in Australia and empanadas and ceviche sold on the side of the street, a colorful place full of colorful people.

Then it was time to head back to the airport and back on board my Qantas flight to Sydney.

Chile really is a stunning place, full of such diverse scenery and amazing culture. I would love to go back and take even more time to explore the place thoroughly. An amazing trip and a great opportunity.

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TUESDAY RECIPES

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

The chicken wings don’t need a lot of cooking on the barbecue, as they are essentially ready to go once blanched. You won’t believe how tender the twice cooking makes them.

Rather than deep-frying the eggplants, they can also be roasted at about 180°C for 20 minutes or so. Add chilli to the eggplant dish if you want to spice things up.

These two recipes need only rice and steamed greens to make a great shared meal.

 

BARBECUE CHICKEN WINGS WITH SPICY TOMATO SAUCE

Serves 4 to 8 as part of a shared Asian banquet

chickenwings

16 chicken wings, tips removed, each wing cut in half

2 tbsp chopped coriander, to serve

2 tbsp chopped mint, to serve

marinade

4 cloves garlic, minced

3cm piece ginger, peeled and minced

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

4 tbsp honey

3 tbsp soy sauce

4 tbsp peanut oil

juice of 1 lemon

sea salt, to taste

spicy tomato sauce

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

sea salt, to taste

11/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

5 roma tomatoes, cored and sliced into

1cm thick slices


To make sauce, add oil to a deep frypan and heat over a medium heat. Add garlic, sea salt and chilli flakes and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for about 20 minutes, tossing from time to time until they break down and form a sauce.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add chicken wings and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Drain, pat dry, and allow to cool for an hour.

Mix marinade ingredients together in a large bowl, then toss the chicken wings through. Leave to marinate for an hour.

Heat a barbecue grill to hot. Remove wings from the marinade and set aside. Pour marinade into a large frying pan and bring to the boil. Reduce marinade on a gentle simmer until it starts to thicken.

Place chicken wings on hot barbecue grill and cook for about 2 minutes each side, until they caramelise and char. Brush the charred wings with the reduced marinade.

Pile wings onto a platter, sprinkle with the coriander and mint, and serve with tomato sauce.

 

STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH BLACK BEAN SAUCE

Serves 4 to 8 as part of a shared Asian banquet

eggplant

8 Japanese eggplants

3 tbsp cornflour

3 cups vegetable oil, for frying

2 tbsp chopped coriander, to serve

stuffing

100g green prawn meat

200g ground pork

2 tsp finely chopped spring onions

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp cornflour

1/4 tsp salt

black bean sauce

2 tbsp fermented black beans

1 tsp shaoxing wine

2 tsp minced garlic cloves

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp oyster sauce

1/2 tsp cornflour


Soak black beans for sauce in shoaxing wine until soft – about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

For the stuffing, mince prawns finely then chop together with ground pork. Mix 1 tbsp water, spring onions, soy sauce, cornflour and salt into a paste, and mix through the prawn and pork.

Slice 1cm off the length of one side of each eggplant to form a flat base. Slice the eggplant in half lengthways (parallel to the first cut), nearly all the way through but leaving it joined, so it is butterflied but secure.

Open up the eggplant and sprinkle with cornflour. Add prawn and pork stuffing, pat down evenly. Sprinkle on a little more cornflour before closing the eggplant shut.

Add 3 cups of oil to a wok, heat to 180°C or just smoking. Deep-fry the stuffed eggplant until golden-brown. Remove and drain well on paper towel. Leave 1 tbsp of oil in wok.

To make sauce, stir-fry black beans and minced garlic until fragrant. Add the stock, soy and oyster sauces, and bring to the boil. Add 1/2 tbsp water, and thicken sauce with cornflour. Turn the heat to low and return the eggplants to cook for about 5 minutes.

Transfer eggplants to a dish, pour the sauce over the top, and serve sprinkled with chopped coriander.

 

SOMETHING TO DRINK

Pale ale A dish with spice and boldness shouts out for a refreshing and quenching ale. Hailing from the historic Rocks district of Sydney, Lord Nelson Three Sheets Pale Ale ($4, 330ml) is a playful yet intriguing match.

 

QANTAS LUNCH AT THE SQUARE, LONDON

Friday, September 13th, 2013

In late August, Neil travelled to London (post an exciting trip to MAD in Copenhagen, but more on that later!), to present a fantastic lunch for Qantas at Phil Howard’s ‘The Square’.

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The lunch was a chance for Qantas and Rockpool Consulting to showcase the exceptional inflight offerings available for all Qantas passengers – in food, wine and service. The Square have long been friends of Rockpool, Phil Howard travelling to Sydney many years ago to cook at The Ultimate Dinner for The Starlight Children’s Foundation at Rockpool on George.  The Square was chosen as the perfect partner to demonstrate Neil’s philosophy in service and creating a truly special experience, and Phil’s team didn’t disappoint.

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Every element of the lunch was designed to reflect the Qantas and Rockpool experience – small dishes because we know our customers like to eat smaller dishes in-flight; Australian wines because we serve the best Australian wines in flight and in our lounges; exceptional service, because we believe we offer the best service of any airline; as well as a great opportunity to spruik Australia’s great wines to the world and indulge in some fabulous local produce – Rockpool Consulting chef Michael Clift was in awe of the amazing Scottish scallops – 4cm in diameter and so sweet and textural!.

The menu

Croutons of labne and smokey baba ganoush, and hummus with preserved lemon

Scottish scallops with deboned chicken wing, confit tomatoes, pomegranate and mint

Blackened chermoula crusted tuna on top of a Moroccan eggplant salad served with Harissa

Lamb “tagine” -best end of lamb, braised vegetables, pistachio stuffed medjool dates and brown Palestinian cous cous

Tart of orange blossom flower creme patisserie, peaches, mint and pistachio

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Lunches like this one, which we’ve also run in LA, New York and Auckland, offer a great opportunity to engage with our customers. Lunch was hosted by Eric Jelinek, Qantas Regional General Manager, UK & Ireland, with the guest list largely comprising Qantas corporate customers and frequent flyers, along with a gaggle of UK –based media. High profile guests included author Kathy Lette , performer Barry Humphries, commentator Mark Nicholas, Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke, and Mike Rann, Australian High Commissioner to the UK.

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Head Chef Gary Foulkes and his team from The Square were simply amazing. They did a great job and were so accommodating, helpful and just a great bunch of guys. Our thanks to them for making us so welcome.

 

ROCKPOOL ON GEORGE CLASSIC LUNCHES – SEPTEMBER

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

As we head into September and our move to Bridge St idles closer, it is hard not to become just a little melancholy. The Rockpool All Star dinners see the return of much loved ex head chefs and much loved old dishes that were of their time, and we continue with our classic Friday lunches at Rockpool on George, with Phil Wood pulling out some long since seen beauties for September. You will not be disappointed!

 

Rockpool Classic Lunch Menu

Sweet pork and green papaya salad with nam jim

Herb and spice crusted tuna with eggplant salad

Lime soufflé with lime ice cream

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…and just to prove we are not fudging, here’s a copy of the menu from Rockpool circa 1996.

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3 set courses. $65 per person

02 9353 1888 or reservations@rockpool.com for bookings