One Incredible Night
By Franz Scheurer
Whilst in Thailand David Thompson and Tanongsak Yordwai experienced the aftermath of the Tsunami personally and decided to contribute in the best way they know: through food. Getting their mates together, they organised a night of nights for Sydney’s foodies. And do they have mates!
(In order of appearance)
Guillaume Brahimi from Guillaume at Bennelong
Tim Pak Poy from the Wharf Restaurant
Neil Perry from Rockpool Restaurant
Chris Manfield just returning from in London
Janni Kyritsis of MG Garage fame
Matthew Moran from Aria
Martin Boetz from Longrain
This is the sort of line-up to make foodies faint then crawl on all fours across the city just to get there! This is the sort of line-up that guaranteed a full house, at any price.
The evening started with ‘Grilled King Marron with Sweet Fish Sauce and Betel Leaves’ prepared by Ty Bellingham of Sailors Thai, accompanied by a terrific (and reasonably lethal) ‘Watermelon and Vodka’ cocktail and glasses of ‘Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir Rose’, all served on the terrace out the back, overlooking Circular Quay.
Once guests were seated, Guillaume’s ‘Basil Infused Tuna with Mustard Seed and Soy Vinaigrette’ set the tone for the evening. What an incredible dish! Immediately after, working like a palate cleanser, we enjoyed Tim Pak Poy’s ‘Smoked Salmon Consommé’, a long standing favourite of the Sydney dining public. The Morilla Estate Riesling, 2002, was a perfect match with these two dishes, showing a surprising amount of age for a wine this young.
Guests barely had time for a breather when Neil Perry’s succulent and spicy ‘Tagine of Southern Rock Lobster with Cous Cous and Spiced Dates’ arrived. This dish manages the impossible: complex, deep and dark spicy flavours with a fair amount of chilli heat, without overshadowing the lobster. A ‘Mermerus Chardonnay, 2003’ had a hard time keeping pace with this dish and with Chris Manfield’s in your face ‘Sweet and Sour Pork with Chilli Orange Eggplants’. Chris has a knack of pushing spiciness right to the brink of what the diner can tolerate without overstepping the mark. Glorious! A superb ‘Dalwhinnie Eagle Series Shiraz, 2001 flooded the palate, filled the mouth and announced: “take notice!” A stunning wine.
Tummies were getting a bit of a rest now as the winners of the raffles were drawn. The prizes were befitting the event, generous and terrific. Martin Boetz (who incidentally cooked upstairs together with David for a more affordable but no less exiting dinner) was offered as the ‘meat prize’ for the night and each chef was available at a price. There were so many prizes that just about everyone buying a ticket went home with a prize (or a chef).
Returning to the serious business of eating, Janni Kyritsis’ ‘Steamed Fillet of Beef in a Bone Marrow Dumpling with Tapenade and Madeira’ reminded us all just how much he and his food are missed! Go on Janni, open another restaurant, Sydney misses you! (I know I do!) An incomparable dish and, for our table at least, the winner of the night. The fillet was co-served with Matthew Moran’s ‘Potato Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables and Truffles’, the prettiest dish of the night and a textural winner, with generous amounts of truffles shaved over the dish at the table. It was also terrific to see all the chefs ‘doing front of house’ and doing it well. I would never have guessed that they are all masters at carrying multiple plates AND making it look easy. The ‘Pepper Tree Reserve Coonawarra Merlot, 1998’ just loved the truffles.
The ensuing auction of some very special prizes raised a lot more money and I must say the generosity of everyone involved was stirring.
A dessert plate of ‘Lychees and Rambutans in Perfumed Syrup’ and ‘Black Sticky Rice with Coconut Custard and Gold Leaf’ prepared by Tanongsak Yordwai was so bloody good that despite the mountains of food already consumed, every last morsel was gobbled up by everyone. The ‘d’Arenberg The Noble Riesling 2001’ managed to not only complement the dessert but actually lift it.
With charity dinners where everyone donates time and ingredients, one often encounters short-cuts and ‘not so terrific’ food and wine, because of an attitude ‘it’s for a good cause’… you’re here to donate, not to eat and drink well. It says a lot for the calibre of these chefs that everyone not only produced the best using the freshest, but also did it with a smile. No short-cuts here! The floor staff deserves high praise. The ‘who’s who’ of the Sydney’s best floor staff was everywhere, saw everything AND had a good time. If I had to rate this night it would get a 10/10 for food, wine, ambience and service and an 11/10 for generosity!
A staggering $ 90,000.00 was raised on the night and 100% of this will go to the Rajaprachanukroh Foundation, the King of Thailand’s charity.