The Ultimate Dinner 2011
By Franz Scheurer
Last Wednesday, 23rd March, was THE night when some of the world's leading chefs came together, thanks to Neil Perry's relentless passion and efforts for raising money for the Starlight Children's Foundation Australia. The event was held at Rockpool Bar & Grill (which was closed for the night to host this dinner). Chefs of the caliber of Andoni Luis Aduriz Mugaritz, Heston Blumenthal The Fat Duck, Guillaume Brahimi Guillaume at Bennelong, Thomas Keller The French Laundry, Neil Perry Rockpool Group, Phil Wood Rockpool Sydney, Catherine Adams Rockpool catered for the diners who paid $1,000 a seat for the privilege of being fed by the world's best.
They raised a staggering $280,000.00 for sick kids and that's to be applauded. The amount of effort put in by everyone is amazing and it truly was The Ultimate Dinner.
Comments on the dinner
I'm not sure I'm in a league that entitles me to comment on the work of such culinary luminaries, so take the below, as always, just as my opinion.
First let me say that the evening was worth every cent of the ticket price, and having the added warm, fuzzy feeling that it was for a good cause helped. Each and every dish was a work of art and it's a credit to the floor staff to be able to get the dishes out with perfect timing and a smile. Naturally the wines were first class, too.
Guillaume's crab sandwiches also contained a dollop of Sterling caviar each, taking them another culinary level up.
Despite the fame of Aduriz's Vegetable Carpaccio, which tastes meaty, looks beefy and is totally vegetarian, I am sure that a lot of people there still got fooled that night. It's an amazing dish with a wonderful, meaty texture and the main ingredient is, wait for it, water melon.
Blumenthal's Sound of the Sea is a cerebral dish where salty, seaweed and sea urchin flavours are helped by a set of headphones with the typical sounds of the sea, waves crashing, seagulls calling, etc. It's what I would call a total mind-fuck.
The Rich and Noble Congee is a cracker of a dish; I first tasted this at Rockpool Sydney and it blew me away. The Chinese really do understand texture and Phil Wood's interpretation is simply stunning. This was my dish of the night, closely followed by Neil Perry's Wagyu.
Thomas Keller presented a Duck Breast, served with Swiss chard and glazed turnips but it was the unusual addition of pickled blueberries and hazelnut streusel that made this dish. Subtle, yet persistent flavours and gorgeous presentation.
Neil Perry followed on with his Wood Fired Wagyu Brisket using David Blackmore's beef. I loved the oxtail ravioli and the unexpected use of red fermented bean curd.
Adam's Vanilla Bavarois featured an unusual combination of fruit, using raspberries and tomato together.
Truly a wonderful collection of culinary masterpieces and not only were the wines an exquisite collection of wonderful drops, they also matched each dish admirably. Best nose was the 2006 Alesia Pinot Noir and wine of the night for me had to be the 2006 Henschke Hill of Grace.