As part of Auckland Restaurant Month, Fisher & Paykel hosted a series of master classes called The Social Kitchen with some notable chefs, cooks and bar owners. I went to quite a few sessions over the course of the weekend, with my friend Margaret.
We ate a lot, drank quite a bit, praised and criticised in equal measure, met some great people, and took a heap of photos for Instagram. In between all of that, I listened and took notes as much as I could. Here’s what I learned.
Paul Carmichael – Executive Chef, Momofuku Seiobo, Sydney
What we ate: Fish Cakes (Salt Cod), Sweet Coconut Bread, Guinness Punch
What we drank: Mimosas (it was 10am!!) and Guinness Punch
What I learned: Sadly, if you ask a chef who’s accustomed to staying up late and waking up late to present a masterclass at 10am, he won’t bring his A game. No matter how good he is. But I did learn a couple of things:
- If you can’t source salt cod, cover fresh white fish with salt, leave for 24-48 hours, rinse off salt and use as you would salt cod.
- Combining what is essentially an eggnog (cooked cream and egg yolks) with condensed milk and Guinness, makes for a frankly delicious, surprisingly chocolatey cocktail
Kyle Street – Co-Owner Culprit (opening late September)
What we ate: Kokonda (marinated raw fish) with tomato jelly, Duck Leg and Roast Squash Tortellini in Duck Consomme, Culprit Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Fancy Bearnaise.
What we drank: Pinot Noir
What I learned: Too many things to mention, but key outtakes are:
- When marinating fish in lemon/lime juice, drain away the citrus before adding herbs. The juice will cook the herbs otherwise
- To clarify consomme, freeze the broth, then put the frozen mass into a sieve lined with a teatowel. As it defrosts, only the clear broth will drip through.
- When making hollandaise or bearnaise sauce, beat the egg yolks initially with some hot water. This will temper the yolks and prevent splitting.
What we ate: Banh Xeo (crispy pancake with pork belly and shrimp), Asian Greens with garlic and chilli, Crispy Tofu with Steamed Shanghai, Cha Ca (tumeric fried fish with rice noodles and dill)
What we drank: Chardonnay
What I learned: How to make some incredibly authentic, delicious Vietnamese food (see my take on pho here), but less generally:
- After you’ve cooked rice noodles, don’t refrigerate them. Once they go very cold they will become hard again.
- Well used woks are always black (although they started off silver). This is because they’ve been seasoned in a hot oven with a combination of oil, animal fat (pork, beef, duck), onion and herb cut offs. The high heat will open up the steel so it absorbs the flavour, and most importantly will make the wok non-stick
Brad Mackay – Chef, Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen
(Sadly I made the beginners’ mistake of not recording the owner’s name….)
What we ate: ALL the meat – Smoked beef brisket, Home Cured Pastrami, St Louis Pork Ribs, Slow Smoked Pulled Lamb, Barbequed Beef Short Rib
What we drank: This was a beer/meat matching session, so a range of Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen’s own craft beers.
What I learned: This session was all about the American style barbeque and hot smoked meats, matched with some very diverse and quite delicious beer
- When cooking brisket, the thick, hard fat will not render down, so you’re best to cut it off prior to cooking.
- Watties Tomato Sauce makes a great base for a pork ribs glaze. The sugar content will make it caramelise, and you can then add other flavours – cider vinegar, celery seeds, molasses, etc.
- The large glass beer bottle are called “growlers” – if I find that funny does it make me immature?
Jordan Rondel – The Caker
What we ate: Cake (I know, shocking). To be specific, a Blackberry, Lime & Maple Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing
What we drank: Rose
What I learned: Probably the best bit of this session was finding out how easy it is to make cakes look amazing (with absolutely NO disrespect to Jordan – she’s a master). Disheveled glamour was how I would best describe my effort. Also:
- Adding sugar late in the mixing process can still make for a successful cake. Especially when you’re using maple syrup, which does not combine easily with butter. Jordan beat the butter alone, added almonds, then eggs, and did not add sugar until after adding flour.
- When using frozen berries, mix them in while frozen. When they defrost all the juice leeches out.