Tharwa Valley Forge

March 13th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

Back in February, Ben Hines, Bar Manager of Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne set off to do something a little left of centre. It’s not for everyone, this particular weekend activity, but if you’re a chef with a passion for your trade, a restaurant manager, sommelier, bar manager, apprentice chef, apprentice pretty much anything, you, like us, will probably groan with envy and start googling Tharwa Valley at a rate of knots!

Ben custom made two of his own Japanese kitchen knives!

He went off to Tharwa Valley Forge at the crack of dawn, in an attempt to beat Victoria’s deflating Summer heat.  Tharwa is a small village, just South of Canberra and Tharwa Valley Forge is a company established by bladesmith Karim Haddad in 2003. Karim was himself trained by Australia’s first Master Bladesmith, Thomas Gerner in the early 1990’s. Karim’s aim with the company was to create excellent quality knives and to teach others the skills necessary along the way. At his classes, he teaches custom knife-making, sharpening, Japanese knife-making, blacksmithing and folding knives (a whole new level of complexity and precision).

On Ben’s arrival, the Forge was fired up, plans laid out, steel selected and then the job of hammering out the tang of the knife began.

Next up, the shape of the knives was cut and hammered out, followed by hammering the bevels of the edge.

After normalising and annealing  (even the words are cool!) the steel, the task of grinding the blades into shape began, then finer and finer, sanding by hand.

The last job of the day was heat- treating to harden the edge.

The following day, the budding knife makers continued sanding and smoothing out the blades until they were ready to fit the handle material, grinding the handles into shape before a final oiling then sharpening the blades to razor sharp.

Over the two days, Ben produced 2 beautiful knives that will hold a special place in his kitchen for a very long time to come.


Tuesday Recipes

March 11th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

The snapper can be replaced by any fish you like. The butter gives the sauce a really nice silkiness.

We use thick steaks from larger fish – about 3kg to 5kg. If you use thin fillets, adjust the cooking time downwards to suit.

Make sure the fish is a little undercooked in the kitchen so it’s perfect by the time it gets to the table.

Saute of snapper with fresh tomato and olive sauce
Serves 4


8 cloves garlic, peeled
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 x 180g fillets of snapper, skin on
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100g unsalted butter
50ml good-quality red wine vinegar
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and diced
12 black olives, stones removed, roughly chopped
3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Place the garlic in a saucepan of salted water and bring to the boil. Immediately refresh in cold water and repeat until the garlic is tender.

Dry the fish with paper towels and season with sea salt.

Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the fish pieces skin side down and cook for 5 minutes or until the skin is nice and crisp. Turn the fish over and add the garlic. Cook for a further 3 minutes until the fish is about three-quarters done.

Remove the fish and keep it warm; the residual heat will continue to cook the fish as it rests.

Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape the bottom and sides with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Then add the tomatoes, olives and a little sea salt. Cook for 5 minutes then add the remaining butter and whisk until it melts and forms a sauce. Add the parsley and a little freshly ground pepper, then check the seasoning to finish.

Pour a little sauce on each plate and place fish on top. Serve immediately.


Broccoli and anchovy penne
Serves 4


500g broccoli (about two large heads)
100ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
12 anchovy fillets
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
400g dried penne pasta
parmesan cheese, to serve

Grate the broccoli and set aside.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the extra virgin olive oil and add the anchovies, garlic, chilli flakes and sea salt. Fry for 3 minutes, stirring continuously, until the anchovies start to melt into the oil.

Add the broccoli to the pan with a dash more oil. Braise the broccoli slowly for about 20 minutes, or until well cooked and soft.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes or until al dente. Stir the pasta through the sauce and cook for another minute.

To serve, spoon into four deep pasta bowls. Grate the parmesan over the top and finish with a grind of fresh pepper.

Fiano Originally hailing from southern Italy, the fiano grape variety is well-suited to the Australian climate. The 2013 Coriole Fiano ($25) from McLaren Vale is a lively wine with flavours of melon, lemon rind and stone fruits. The texture highlights the purity of the snapper, while the acidity complements the tomatoes.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Dominic Smith.

Richard Healy on Wine at Rockpool

March 6th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

General Manager and Wine Director of Rockpool, Richard Healy, talks wine choices and why what he has selected will go great with your lunch. 

Rockpool Wine

We are focusing on having a balanced wine list however we are certainly committed to highlighting Australian wine producers whom we think are doing some pretty special things.

Currently we are featuring the 2012 Blind Corner ‘Cremant’ Chenin Blanc from Margaret River
on our champagne and sparkling wine trolley. We love it as it’s made by a super nice guy,
Ben Gould, who has great wine making scruples. Everything is organic and biodynamic
which is great and all the fruit for this wine is from a single vineyard.

The wine itself is fantastic to begin the meal with. It’s dry, refreshing with layers of tree fruits
such as pear and quince while also showing some gentle floral notes.

He produces it in tiny amounts however we have been lucky to get a hold of a small amount
to pour for our guests here at 11 Bridge St.

We also have a small highlight on a few wines of the Barossa region. Many of the wines from
the Barossa are mighty powerful but we have selected a few that express how elegant some
of the wines can be. The 2009 Geyer Brothers ‘Single Vineyard’ Grenache from the sub region
of Ebenezer is Barossa through and through but is still delicate enough to not blow the food
out of the water.

It has lots of juicy red fruit, silken tannins and just a gentle layer of oak spice to round out the
wine. This wine will satisfy the desire for the bigger red drinkers but works really well with some
of the more substantial dishes we have.

Timo Mayer is a bit of a character of the wine industry and he makes fantastic wine out of the
Yarra Valley; he also makes a little Riesling out of Remstal in Germany…another story.

Timo plays around with chardonnay and syrah but we think he has a deft touch with Pinot
Noir. His 2012 ‘Granite’ Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley is made in miniature amounts. In fact
he doesn’t make a lot of any of his wines. This wine is made from fruit sourced from the
vineyards in the upper Yarra Valley and is created with a bit of whole bunch ferment.

Juicy, vibrant red fruits dominate but the wine is laced with exotic spice and gentle, tannin
framework. This is a fantastic example of Yarra Valley Pinot; it’s world class & goes neatly with
many of our dishes.

Neil’s March column for the Qantas Australian Way In-flight Magazine

March 6th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young



What comes to mind when thoughts turn to dining in Perth? Breezy seaside eateries, perhaps. Great steakhouses, of course! But the West Australian capital also has authentic Asian restaurants that are well worth seeking out.

Look past the laminated tabletops at Good One BBQ (808 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park, 08 9472 4354) and be rewarded with cuisine that sticks in your mind far longer than any fancy interior. The soy chicken is tender and succulent, the roast pork is crisp on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth inside, the barbecued pork is too good to pass up. As for the roast duck, wow! I usually pair all this with a stir fry of prawns and XO sauce, with a side of Chinese greens and oyster sauce. Take along a bottle of riesling or pinot noir and a few beers for good measure. This ain’t fine dining, but it is fine food.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Silks (Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood, 08 9362 7551) is Perth’s best Chinese restaurant. Within the elegant confines of Crown Perth, it serves age-old dishes done in an innovative way. By day, they roll out excellent dim sum and by night, some of the country’s best roast meats. It’s big-night-out dining. Special occasion? Book one of the private rooms looking out over the city skyline and the Swan River. What to order? Indulge in one of their three degustation menus, make for the roast meat selection, or tackle the nicely committed abalone offering. For me, though, it’s all about the dumplings, which include steamed Shanghai-style crabmeat, pearl meat and scallop versions, as well as crisp, fried Patagonian toothfish taro puffs (yes, really!). Finish up with some steamed salted-egg-yolk custard buns.

Kiri Japanese (142 Onslow Road, Shenton Park, 08 9388 2727) feels like the local you’ve always wanted. For lunch, it’s all very home-style, featuring simple dishes cooked with love. I head straight for the una juu (eel with rice) and miso soup; or green-tea soba with tempura. The dining room is compact, with only a dozen seats, but for dinner the formal restaurant next door opens to serve a contemporary take on Japanese food. Chef Takaaki Komagata trained in kaiseki and sashimi in Japan and his talent is immediately evident. My failsafe picks include the cold marinated steamed duck with radish, spring onion, Japanese mustard and yuzu pepper paste; and the dengaku eggplant with lotus chips and miso sauce. The food is seasonal, well-balanced and exceptionally executed.

Fabulous little Itsara Thai (25 Stirling Highway, Nedlands, 08 6389 2441) was recommended to me by Thai friends as the place to go for traditional Thai flavours enlivened by modern techniques. The food is beautifully balanced with chillies, fresh herbs, palm sugar, kaffir lime and fish sauce all used as they should be – a wonderful combination of hot, salty, sour and sweet. Chef and co-owner Itsara Pracharoenwattana is always careful to use the freshest produce available.  I have three go-to dishes here. Miang boran pla is a classic betel-leaf starter that marries the sweetness of roasted coconut, palm sugar and prawns with the acidity of pomelo and a hit of Thai spice. Pia long tang (fleeing fish) is essentially crisp fried fish with mango, lemongrass and kaffir lime, mixed with ginger, cashew nuts and a sweet chilli dressing. Choo chee (red curry) duck is quite possibly my favourite dish as it’s balanced and rich and oh so good. I like to wash it down with a cold beer.


March 3rd, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

The chipotle will come in bigger tins than you need. Cover the remainder with a little olive oil for future use.You can use it chopped and blended with butter for meat and seafood barbecues – delicious!

Try using chicken instead of duck. Just be sure to reduce the cooking time by 30 minutes. You can also use corn tortillas if you prefer.

Tomatillo, a member of the nightshade family, is a staple in Mexican cooking. They’re also known as “tomate verde” (green tomatoes).

Makes 12 tacos


6 duck legs
2 small white onions, peeled and sliced
1 head garlic, cut in half
1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
1 tsp ground cumin
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium orange, quartered
2 limes, quartered
tomatillo chipotle salsa
400g tin tomatillos, rinsed
3 cloves garlic
4 chipotle chillies in adobo (including a little adobo liquid)
juice of 2 limes
¼ cabbage, shredded
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
12 flour tortillas

Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Place the duck legs, onions, garlic, cinnamon and cumin in a casserole dish with a lid, and season to taste with salt. Squeeze the orange quarters over the duck, add the orange skins, mix well, place on the lid and cook in oven for about 2 hours, until the meat comes easily off the bone.

Remove the duck from liquid and fat in the casserole, let it cool a little and pull the meat off the bone in large chunks.

Strain the duck fat through a sieve. Heat 2 tbsp in a large frypan over medium-high heat, add the duck and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until the meat is golden brown and crisp. Season to taste. Place on a plate surrounded by the quartered limes, ready to serve.

For the salsa, put tomatillos and garlic in a small pot with 3 tbsp of water and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the chillies and adobo liquid and process in the pot with a stick blender until smooth. Season and add the lime juice. Pour into a serving bowl.

Shred cabbage and onion and place in a salad bowl. Sprinkle coriander on top.

To serve, heat the tortillas – these can be microwaved, steamed or cooked in a pan. Add duck, salad and salsa with a squeeze of lime, then wrap your tortilla.


Serves 4

Prawn Cocktail

1 iceberg lettuce
1 ear sweetcorn, peeled, kernels removed
1/2 Spanish onion, finely sliced
2 jalapeño chillies, deseeded, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1 avocado, finely diced
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 limes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
16 large cooked king prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 chipotle chillies in adobo, minced
5 drops Tabasco sauce
250ml good-quality mayonnaise

To make the sauce, simply fold the ketchup, chipotle and Tabasco through the mayonnaise until well incorporated.

Wash the lettuce and discard the outside leaves, then shred finely. Distribute the shredded lettuce over a serving plate, then scatter corn, onion, chillies, coriander and avocado over the top. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice and season to taste.

Scatter the prawns over the salad and dollop a bit of sauce on each prawn. Serve immediately.

Gamay Gamay may not be a well-known grape, but Sorrenberg in Beechworth, Victoria, is producing outstanding examples. The 2012 vintage ($44) is light and bright, with flavours of redcurrants and cherries and soft, silky tannins. It’s a very happy match for duck.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Dominic Smith.


February 28th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

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…

22  1

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

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.

3a  4

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

3  5

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.

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.

7  30

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

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.

11  20

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!

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.

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!

DSC_6324  Staff 4

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.

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!

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…

13  14  15

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.

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.

 16  Richard 4

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!



February 25th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

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Birchip can be found a good 300km North West of Melbourne, in the Mallee Region of Victoria. With a population of not too many, it is a fine cereal growing region – full of barley, wheat and more with a good gaggle of sheep and the odd pig to boot.

Birchip is also the home town of Brianna Smith, Senior Sous Chef at Spice Temple Melbourne and dumpling maker extraordinaire.

Last Monday, Brianna headed home and took part in the annual dumpling class in Birchip. 28 eager attendees from different parts of the community turned up.  The class was organised by the Birchip Business and Learning Centre, a non-profit organisation funded by DHS . It was established to provide neighbourhood house activities, adult education and to support community development and engagement.  They have a committee of management with members of community groups, local businesses, sporting organisations and interested community members.

No profits are made from the classes – Brianna and her team simply cover their costs and enjoy getting their skills out amongst the community, sharing their passion.

Everyone had a great time, both the students and the teachers! It was a great experience too for Betty, Kirk, Bishal and Maya to get out into a little community and to pass on their skills.  The local newspaper covered the ‘event’… Read the article HERE

Good work Brianna! Here’s to next year!

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Monday recipes

February 24th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

Serve these two dishes together banquet-style – simply add jasmine rice and a serve of steamed Asian greens with oyster sauce. Finish with fresh summer fruit with coconut ice-cream.

The scallops dish works well with any protein, from chicken to beef to pork and all manner of seafood. For a special treat, try lobster meat and blow your guests away. Feel free to add your favourite vegies – snow peas, baby corn, mushrooms.


Serves 4


4 tbsp peanut oil
300g pork fillet, thinly sliced
100g snow peas, trimmed
1 small knob of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp hot bean paste
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp yellow bean soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp chicken stock
freshly ground white pepper
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 small handful of coriander leaves

Heat a wok over high heat until smoking. Add half the peanut oil and, when hot, stir-fry the pork in two batches till just coloured and almost cooked through. Remove the pork from the wok, set aside and wipe the wok clean.

Reheat the wok with another tablespoon of oil and stir-fry the snow peas until just tender; remove them from the wok also.

Heat the last tablespoon of oil in the wok and stir-fry the ginger, garlic and hot bean paste until fragrant. Deglaze the wok with the Shaoxing wine, then add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and stock and simmer for 2 minutes. Return the pork and snow peas to the wok and toss together.

Spoon into a bowl, season to taste with white pepper, and sprinkle with spring onions and coriander to serve.


Serves 4


3 tbsp peanut oil
1/4 knob of ginger, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 red capsicum, julienned
2 spring onions, finely sliced
12 sea scallops, shelled and cleaned
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 tbsp light mushroom soy sauce
2 tbsp plum sauce
3 tsp sugar
100ml chicken stock
200g bean sprouts, trimmed

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until just smoking. Add the ginger, garlic, capsicum, spring onions and scallops and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove scallops from the wok.

Deglaze the wok with the Shaoxing wine, then add the soy sauce, plum sauce, sugar and chicken stock. Bring to the boil.

Return the scallops to the wok, add the bean sprouts and mix together. Stir-fry for 30 seconds to heat through. Spoon onto a large plate and serve.

Champagne - An expressive house style from Mareuil-Sur-Ay in the Marne Valley, Philipponnat Royale Réserve NV ($53) offers a fine balance between subtle citrus, stone fruit and slight brioche creaminess on the palate.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.

The CEO CookOff 2014

February 19th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

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Take 37 of Australia’s top chefs, 120 CEOs and members of the business upper tier, and add 900 attendees – members of Sydney’s disadvantaged and homeless community. Add them all to the fabulous Carriageworks in Eveleigh on Monday night and you have the 3rd annual CEO CookOff, a join initiative from OzHarvest and Qantas.

The CEO CookOff is an incredible event that aims to feed the homeless, while at the same time raising awareness of food wasteage and how simple it can be to turn excess food into nutritious meals for those in need. Additional focus this year was on indigenous communities and youth in crisis with funds going to Tribal Warrior and the Life Changing Experiences Foundation.

Our very own Neil Perry, OzHarvest ambassador was there of course, with trusty side kick Mike, cooking alongside legends Maggie Beer, Guillaume Brahimi, Peter Gilmore, Jared Ingersol, Nathan Sasi, Giovanni, Frank Camorra and many many more. Each chef cooked their signature burger this year with Neil going all out and even adding tomato and lettuce. Go chef!

Vittoria boss Les Schirato was the leading CEO fundraiser. Last check, the overall tally was sitting at over $1 million raised. What an incredible result!

It is always a great pleasure to take part in charity fundraisers of such incredible worth, to do whatever bit we can to help those in need. We take our hats off to Qantas for their support and to the incredible Ronni Khan for her vision and undying devotion to her work. OzHarvest continues its drive to turn excess food into nutritious meals for Australians in need with 21 vans on the road delivering food to over 500 charities across Australia.

Congratulations to all those involved and may we all continue striving to do whatever we can to help our fellow Australians.

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Tuesday Recipes

February 18th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

Use the salsa over anything and everything – roast leg of lamb or beef sirloin, whole roasted snapper, pork cutlets.  You can substitute the almonds with macadamias or hazelnuts, or add some basil for an extra flavour hit. 

To change the texture of the salsa, try adding some beautiful sweet cherry tomatoes. Just crush them lightly.

Barbecued lamb cutlets with tomato, almond and chilli salsa
Serves 4

 Simple summer entertaining: Barbecued lamb cutlets with salsa.

3 cloves garlic
sea salt
2 long red chillies, split and deseeded
80ml extra virgin olive oil
16 lamb cutlets
freshly ground black pepper
tomato, almond and chilli salsa (see recipe below)
lemon cheeks, to serve

Tomato, almond and chilli salsa

6 cloves garlic
2 tsp sea salt
4 long red chillies, split, deseeded and roughly chopped
100g almonds, roasted
4 large vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and diced
4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely shredded
splash of red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa, pound the garlic with half the sea salt in a large mortar and pestle, followed by the chilli. Add the almonds and pound until well crushed, then add the tomato and remaining salt and gently crush. Transfer to a bowl, add the parsley and red wine vinegar and stir through, drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and add a grind of fresh pepper.

For the cutlets, put the garlic and some sea salt in a mortar and pestle. Add the chilli and continue to pound, then stir through the extra virgin olive oil. Rub the cutlets with the marinade, cover and set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavours infuse.

Preheat the barbecue to hot and make sure the grill bars are clean. Put the cutlets on the grill and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.

Place 4 lamb cutlets on each of four plates. Pour the juices from the resting plate over and season with freshly ground pepper. Spoon over salsa and serve immediately with a lemon cheek on the side.

Chilled cucumber and ginger soup
Serves 4

Chilled cucumber and ginger soup.

6 small Lebanese cucumbers, peeled and deseeded
sea salt
2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
freshly ground white pepper
1 cup crème fraîche
2 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped

Cut the cucumbers into small dice and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in a colander and allow to stand for 30 minutes. Rinse cucumbers well under cold water then place in a food processor and add the ginger. Process for about 1 minute or until the mixture forms a thick purée.

Push the purée through a fine sieve and chill.

Divide the cold purée between 4 bowls, season with salt and white pepper to taste, add a dollop of crème fraîche and sprinkle with chopped dill to serve.


• This soup is the simplest recipe ever. You can alter the flavour profile enormously by changing the herb – so try swapping dill for coriander, for example.
• Yoghurt can be substituted for the crème fraîche, if desired.


Pinot gris The 2013 La Bohème Act Three Pinot Gris & Friends ($22) from Victoria’s Yarra Valley offers three aromatic varietals to match the delicacy of the cucumber and ginger soup. Gewürztraminer brings florals and spice, pinot gris a generosity of fruit, while the citrus notes of the riesling provide a clean finish.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.