#navbar-iframe { display: none; }

« Home | Interview with Poh Ling Yeow - before and after Ma... » | Chocolate bacon cupcakes » | Azuma Kushiyaki, Sydney - Sugar Hit 2009 » | New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant, Ashfield » | Carriageworks Farmers' Market » | Fergus Henderson and a nose-to-tail barbecue - Syd... » | Yum Cha at The Dynasty, Belmore » | Masterchef's Matt Preston, a fleischmeister and a ... » | Biggest mooncake in Australia » | Malaysia Festival 2009, Darling Habour »

Monday, October 12, 2009

World Chef Showcase, Sydney International Food Festival 2009

International acts, tatts and one big nosh pit.

The weekend's World Chef Showcase was the gastronomic equivalent of the Big Day Out, with renowned chefs from all over the world descending on Sydney for the headline event of the Sydney International Food Festival. Sebastien Bras, Sergi Arola, David Thompson, Alexandre Bourdas, Peter Gordon, Pichet Ong and more... their arrival has created a perceptible buzz among the local restaurant industry. Already there's talk that the exchange of information, ideas and techniques will see a flow-on effect in Sydney menus over the coming year.

I attended Program 2: China on Saturday - the highlight of the day was undoubtedly the session by Fuchsia Dunlop. Articulate, passionate and humble, her knowledge of Sichuan cuisinie is phenomenal.

We covered a huge amount of ground throughout the course of the day, from cooking demonstrations to tastings and a panel discussion on cyber cuisine.

Jereme Leung, Whampoa Club (Shanghai and Beijing)
cooks an Eight Treasures Spring Chicken
- on the left is the completed spatchcock coated with maltose solution;
to the right is the marinated spatchcock before maltose

Kylie Kwong, Billy Kwong
cooks caramelised pork belly with Chinese coleslaw

MC Simon Thomsen and Kylie Kwong

Kylie Kwong's deep-fried snapper wings with hot and sour sauce

Kylie championed the tastiness (and affordability) of snapper wings which she serves at Billy Kwong. She calls them angel wings on the menu because they look so beautiful, but I couldn't help wondering if they ever have to explain to a distraught child that "no angels were harmed in the making of this dish".

Alvin Leung, Bo Innovation (Hong Kong)

Alvin Leung is not just fascinating because of his blue streaks and tattoos. He is one of only two self-taught chefs to have earnt two Michelin stars. The other self-taught chef is Heston Blumenthal.

Born in London and raised in Toronto, Alvin entertained the crowd with a constant stream of wisecracks in between sips of beer. His refreshing approach focussed on using local produce, utilising Coffin Bay oysters, Moreton Bay bugs and a huge jar of Vegemite.

Coffin Bay oysters with spring onoin and lime sauce with ginger snow

Sweet and sour pork with lychee agar jelly
- the sweet and sour sauce is made with dried red haw fruit,
smokes plums, sugar, rice vinegar and tomato paste

Moreton Bay bug with preserved duck egg, English mustard,
cauliflower duet, black truffle and green onion sauce
- he used original cauliflower breeds in green and purple

Aussie Noodles
Hor fun rice noodles with kangaroo and vegemite butter sauce

Alvin Leung with his chefs, including sous chef Devil (left)

Alvin's take on the Aussie pie floater
- we each enjoyed a sample of this, a woo gok pastry with the usual
pork and yam filling replaced by tender beef cubes and mushy peas

Steaming bambo baskets

Morning tea was supplied by Din Tai Fung, the xiao long bao soup dumplings made fresh on the spot by a small army of staff in pristine white uniforms and masks.

Rolling out the pastry

Dumpling brigade

Serving dumplings

Xiao long bao soup dumplings with ginger shreds and soy vinegar

Steamed sweet buns with red bean or black sesame paste

Black sesame bun

Fuchsia Dunlop, author of Sichuan Cookery and
Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper

Fuchsia can speak, read and write fluent Mandarin. Whilst working at the BBC she undertook Mandarin classes, travelling to Sichuan in 1992. She then won a British Council scholarship to study in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, and ended up enrolling in a Sichuan cooking school with 50 other Chinese students, one of only three females in the class

Her British Council scholarship was about studying ethnic minorities, a topic which she says, was and always will be, sensitive to discuss. Instead she found that by talking about food, people were suddenly all too keen to talk, a process which allowed her to explore communities in a more intimate but less concerted manner.

Sichuan pepper
- we were encouraged to chew on a Sichuan pepper bud to experience
the anaesthetic qualities on our tongue. Fuchsia said it is difficult to find
quality imported Sichuan pepper with the real tongue-numbing qualities.

Blown sugar candy animals

Fuchsia concluded her presentation with an amazing series of personal photos showing local food across the Sichuan region. The sugar candy animals above were the most breathtaking, particularly when shown a video of a man creating one by blowing into malleable toffee with a straw. We were told these are sold as street snacks, the equivalent of fairy floss for kids, even though to us, they looked far too beautiful to eat.

Fuchsia also has a blog.

Lunch: paella pan

Lunch was downstairs at Sean's Kitchen, our meal ticket exchanged for a choice of paella, sushi or a wagyu burger.

Prawns and mussels for the paella

Quail for the paella

Making up the sushi boxes

Paella and salad

Wagyu burger

Stephanie Wood (moderator) with Aun Koh, Andrea Nguyen and Chris Tan

The cyber cuisine session was too broad a topic to cover in one hour. In the burgeoning landscape of food blogs and twitter, online experience is being recognised as a way of bypassing the traditional route of newspaper and magazine internships. A successful food blog can prove a writer's ability to write regularly, connect with people, build an audience and develop a loyal readership. Blogging and twitter is also about disseminating information quickly, breaking news instantly and offering a dynamic discusion forum.

Andrea was a particular delight to talk to before the session. During the panel discussion she talked about how she was interested in "how food reflects who you are". She sees her site Viet World Kitchen as being very human, a collaborative collection of recipes that stores information for Vietnamese communities, and has also been used as a valuable tool by people who adopt Vietnamese children.

Chris Tan, Andrea Nguyen, Stephanie Wood and Aun Koh

Afternoon tea: cupcakes

Lemon polenta cakes by Manna from Heaven

Poh Ling Yeow

Our day concluded with Poh Ling Yeow, runner-up in Masterchef Australia, who brought back memories of the show with her trademark giggling, haphazard organisation skills and room-illuminating smile.

MC Matt Preston

Poh demonstrated her ginger custard, kuih koci and steamed glutinous rice with durian jam. I loved that she brought durian to the people, the fragrant fruit segments passed around the room for people to smell.

Kuih koci with salty coconut sauce

Steamed glutionous rice with durian jam

Poh contemplates a question

Poh signs autographs for Masterchef fans

After the session, Poh was still laughing about her memories of maths class where she would ignore the lesson and pretend to be a hawker stall instead. Her shreds of graph paper would be the noodle for char kway teow and she elaborated that she'd use pencil shavings for a garnish. If the boy next to her didn't want to play, she'd pretend on her own. She also said she loved playing banquet, using a fork and spoon in the style of silver service, and wetting the paper shreds for a more authentic noodle feel.

I'm glad I didn't sit next to Poh in maths class. I think I would've played hawker stall too.

Grab Your Fork attended the World Chef Showcase as a guest of Tourism NSW.

The Sydney International Food Festival has a range of events running throughout the month of October.

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
SIFF 2009 -
Luke Nguyen's Cabramatta Food Tour
SIFF 2009 - McIntosh and Bowman Cheesemaking Workshop
SIFF 2009 - Nose-to-tail barbecue with Fergus Henderson
SIFF 2009 - Sugar Hit at Azuma Kushiyaki

10 Questions with Poh Ling Yeow - Before and After Masterchef
Matt Preston shows us his salami
Sean's Kitchen, Pyrmont - series launch of My Family Feast

22 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 10/12/2009 03:45:00 am


  • At 10/12/2009 10:26 am, Blogger Y said…

    Great reportage. I didn't get to go to any of the showcases so it's nice to see some pictures and hear a bit more about it :)

  • At 10/12/2009 11:51 am, Blogger lex said…

    what Y said ;) will go next year!

  • At 10/12/2009 12:20 pm, Blogger Deb said…

    Looks great, thanks for the report. This would've been the one I'd have chosen to go to, looked like a great day!

  • At 10/12/2009 12:28 pm, Anonymous clekitty said…

    Wow! Wish I had gone to this.. looks marvelous. The smells of the food, the sharing of tips etc. *swoon*

  • At 10/12/2009 1:15 pm, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Great write up Helen! Thanks for all the pics and info.

  • At 10/12/2009 4:27 pm, Blogger Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    Looks like a great day out! I think I've missed so much of the SIFF already... next year :)

  • At 10/12/2009 6:42 pm, Anonymous Mrs Pig Flyin' said…

    Thanks for sharing the showcase with us, it is great! I recently read a short piece by Dunlop on Dan Dan noodles in Chengdu during her study there, very interesting.

    Posting at 3:45AM? you are insane!! Is that a new record?

  • At 10/12/2009 7:40 pm, Blogger Bean Sprout's Cafe said…

    Tons of thanks for blogging.. since I got no chance to go there, at least I got chance to see (some) of the events :D

  • At 10/12/2009 7:47 pm, Anonymous kay said…

    ur trying oh so many things helen.. im jealous!!!!lol

  • At 10/12/2009 9:23 pm, Anonymous penny aka jeroxie said…

    A great post! So much stuff to learn, so much food to taste and absorb. Thanks for sharing.

  • At 10/12/2009 10:48 pm, Blogger A cupcake or two said…

    The showcase was amazing. I learnt so much. I went to Program 6 which was Japan. I wanted to go to China but couldnt make it. Hopefully they do this every year. Those black sesame buns were yummy. I couldnt stop at one. Whoops

  • At 10/12/2009 11:39 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    squee! sugar candy animals! i want i want!

  • At 10/13/2009 12:30 am, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    Woooo so many good stuff!

    I simply love Poh's pensive look LOL

  • At 10/13/2009 8:16 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Hehe that's great that she brought the durian out to people, i so want to taste the glutinous rice with durian jam! Great write up Helen, I wish I could have been there!

  • At 10/13/2009 9:05 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    Nice write up, I went on Sunday but was moving around the sessions. The Talk session with Terry Durach, Simon Thomsen, Sebastien Demorand and Benedict Beauge was pretty good! Poh is so nice and her smile is contageous, had a quick chat with her :D

  • At 10/13/2009 12:19 pm, Blogger lizandarthur said…

    Loved your write up. I went to session 5 on Sunday. Fuschia Dunlop interpreted for Yu Bo. I would love to have seen her cook. For me, the two highlights of the day were Sebastian Bras, then the talk session with Terry Durack, Simon Thomsen, Sebastien Demonrand and Benedict Beauge. And I managed to score a copy of their book because I can read French!

  • At 10/13/2009 5:33 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh woooww looks like such a great day!! I wish I went to see them all in actionn! Thanks for the coverage tho so that I can experience some of it at least hee hee

  • At 10/13/2009 8:12 pm, Anonymous Trisha said…

    What a day! Everything seemed like a massive Asian gastronomic experience!! Ohh I'm so jealous!

  • At 10/13/2009 10:22 pm, Anonymous Belle@OohLook said…

    Oh wow, what an unbelievable day out. Glad you are able to share with all of us. And I looked out for you on ACA but you must have been hiding!

  • At 10/14/2009 12:04 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Y - It was much fun. Shame you couldn't make it this year - maybe next year? :)

    Hi Lex - Sounds like they're going to repeat the event next year, so yep, I'm holding you to it.

    Hi Food.4.Two - It was hard to choose between all the programs - a shame you can't mix-and-match although realistically it would have been a bit of a logistical nightmare.

    Hi clekitty - Lots of inspiration and new ideas in the air. Will be interesting to see what transpires in the Sydney restaurant scene as a direct result.

    Hi Peter G - Thanks, and glad you enjoyed it. It was amazing to see so many international chefs assembled in one place.

    Hi Betty - SIFF is not even half-over - still plenty of time to go to Noodle Markets and Sugar Hits :)

    Hi Mrs Pig Flyin' - Ahh yes the food anthology you were talking about? Fuchsia was amazing and um, yes, the midnight oil was burning. lol

    Hi Bean Sprout's Cafe - Always happy to share. I was very appreciative of the opportunity so it only felt fair to make sure everyone could share in the experience :)

    Hi Kay - SIFF isn't even over yet! lol. Yup lots of good things - I'm certainly not complaining!

    Hi Penny aka Jeroxie - Glad you enjoyed it. There was lots to take in on the day - and hard to believe this was only one of six programs over the weekend!

    Hi A Cupcake or Two - Oh what a pity we didn't get a chance to catch, although the breaks were staggered so maybe we wouldn't have bumped into each other anyway! I had two black sesame bean buns. And two of the red ones too. lol.

    Hi chocolatesuze - I think I would be too sad to eat a sugar candy animal. The artistry was amazing! But hmmm ok, I'd eat a pig!

    Hi Yas - lol. The pensive look was funny. I didn't even realise I had that pose until I came home. Too good to waste!

    Hi Stephcookie - I agree, I was really pleased she decided to use durian. Durian has too much of a bad rap - the stuff is glorious!

    Hi Howard - The sessions you went to on Sunday all sounded great. And yes, Poh is lovely. We caught up with her after the session and she was so chatty and warm.

    Hi lizandarthur - The Fuchsia Dunlop and Yu Bo session sounded fascinating. It was great to watch her cook - she explains the cultural concepts behind Sichuan cuisine so succinctly and effortlessly. And lucky you with the cookbook score!

    Hi FFichiban - It was a long day but an entertaining one. I experienced plenty of dumplings and steamed buns for you too. lol

    Hi Trisha - The day was fantastic - lots of things to take in. Maybe you can make it next year? :)

    Hi Belle - Ha, I didn't even realise there was a TV crew there from Ch9. I wasn't hiding but I was sitting near the back. Luckily! lol

  • At 9/06/2010 10:15 pm, Blogger Click Click Culinary said…

    that's a really good event coverage and write up! i love every bits of it! thanks for writing this :)

  • At 9/12/2010 7:03 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Click Click Culinary - Glad you enjoyed the post :)


Post a Comment

<< Home

      << Read Older Posts       |       >> Read Newer Posts