Young Chef’s Dinner

By Franz Scheurer


Janni Kyritsis held the first young chef’s dinner in 1998 to celebrate the first anniversary of MG Garage and now, in its 8th year, it’s going from strength to strength. Part of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Month it showcases the talents of up and coming young chefs and manages to give the dining public a glimpse into the future at what we might expect to eat in a few years’ time. Last night, at Omega, Tatsuya Teramoto from Yoshii, Joshua Job from dish in Byron Bay, Peter Robertson from Bilson’s, Daniel Puskas (this year’s Josephine Pignolet Award winner) from Marque and Omega’s own Zachary Sykes tickled and teased our palates with their creations.


The dinner started with Zachary Sykes’ ‘Quail pasty with a Seville orange sauce’, a textural sensation. A small, perfectly formed pasty, using a crisp and unctuous puff pastry made with salted butter, filled with judiciously spiced quail meat and served with a zesty orange sauce on the side.


The perfect starter. Terrific!


Second course showcased Tatsuya Teramoto’s deep understanding of subtle flavours with his ‘Squid ink soba noodle with smoked sea urchin, squid ravioli and cherry blossom’. He smoked his own sea urchin and you could tell. The soba noodles gently swimming in a gelatinous warm bonito dashi stock, bound with uzu powder, a reminder that Japanese cuisine was creating warm jellies long before it became all the rage with the new-wave molecular gastronomomists.


This is Japanese cuisine at its best. A stunning dish!


Next in line was Joshua Job’s ‘Seared Byron Bay prawns, garlic gazpacho, tendril and bangalow bacon salad’, a classic Spanish dish. Joshua’s dedication to his produce knows no bounds. He carried all the ingredient for his dish on the plane with him from Byron Bay (for two dinners with 110 people at each).  We all eat with our eyes first and his presentation was first rate. As for taste, the prawns were sweet, perfectly cooked (no mean feat for this many people) and the sauce, a traditional ‘ajilo blanco’ (white garlic) demonstrated just how well Joshua has managed to get his head around Spanish cuisine. This young chef will go far!


Tradition, innovation and presentation! Fantastic!


Peter Robertson was next with a ‘Roast wood pigeon, pastilla of its leg and foie gras cream’. There aren’t many chefs in this town who understand what ‘brik’ (or bourek) pastry is, let alone being able to make it perfectly. Peter also understands the natural symbiosis of gamey and sweet flavours. Full marks for a wonderful marriage of flavours and textures and I must say that the perfectly seared, gamey pigeon was superb. I could eat this dish every day!


Total understanding of the harmony of flavours and textures. Remarkable!


Then it was Zachary Sykes turn again with a pre-dessert of ‘Passionfruit jelly, banana sorbet and passionfruit sauce’. The fact that it was tart and palate cleansing shows that Zachary put a lot of thought into the progression of the whole meal.


A thinker’s dish. Excellent!


The description of the dessert already sparked lively discussion amongst the diners. Daniel Puskas decided to push the envelope with his ‘Candied baby vegetables with parsnip parfait’, and it shone! A presentation that would have taken hours immediately made diners take notice and sit up straight. The textures and tastes were a jaded gourmet’s delight. I think this is one of the most interesting dishes I have eaten in many years. I’m not sure that many people would order it if it was on a menu, but I can tell you that they should! I certainly won’t easily forget it.


Cutting edge and daring! 10/10!


The meal finished with a ‘Sour cherry and coconut macaroon’ made by Zachary Sykes.


The perfect ending to a perfect meal.


These young chefs deserve our respect and applause. If this is what we will be eating in a few years’ time I can hardly wait! I hope they stay focused, passionate and keep some of that wide-eyed innocence and don’t get disillusioned by the hard, daily grind. We, as a dining public, have to make sure they understand just how much we enjoy what they create.


I would also like to congratulate John Yoo, Omega’s sommelier who put the wine matches together. He served, in order, a 2004 Scorpo Rose, a 2003 Jean Manciat Macon Charnay, a 2004 Castro Martin Abarino, a 2003 Provenance Pinot Noir, a 2004 Marcarini Moscato d’Asti and finally the food/wine match of the night, the 2003 Alois Kracher Beerenauslese with the ‘vegetable’ dessert.


Congratulations to all the young chefs, John Yoo, the efficient and friendly front of house staff, the Sydney Morning Herald and John Saxby, guest speaker Roberta Muir from the Sydney Seafood School, Omega’s owner Peter Conisitis and, of course, Janni Kyritsis.