Viewpoints from Aussie Cuisine

  • It is pivotal that the Aussie Cuisine research project reaches out to the industry, and its stakeholders, to ensure a collaborative and objective outcome.

  • “Kaiseki”, multi-course Japanese dining, had a significant influence in introducing degustation style dining to Australia; championed by Tetsuya Wakuda at his signature restaurant.

  • The influence of European cuisine, and specially French techniques, cannot be denied as being an important part of our formative search for our own identity on the plate.

  • The lack of Indigenous representation in our kitchens remains an industry issue; both form a developmental perspective, and the lost opportunity of our cuisine being influenced by the descendants of our original land owners.

  • The sense of freedom that local chefs enjoy, is undoubtedly the strength of our cuisine, and will be instrumental in finding our direction and pathways forward.

A report on “View Forum” Debate on 29/8/2016 at the Gault&Millau Mise en Place Trade Exhibition in Sydney.

Topic:

Culinary influences from immigrant ethnic cuisines towards the “Contemporary Australian Cuisine”

 

aussie-cuisine-sydney-pic

In attendance:

Anna-Jane  Daltai, Conjurup Food                     Dane Richards, food writer

Daniel Webb, Chef, O Bar & Dining                    Paul Rifkin, Exec Chef, Catholic Club,

Andrew Neal,  Head Chef & Teacher, BMHS   Darren Templeman,  Exec. Chef, O Bar

Karen Doyle, Chef & Teacher                             Carlo Tomas, food writer

Naomi Lowry,    Head Chef, Popolo                  Martin Z’Graggen,  Chef & Teacher

Adam Moore, Chef                                              Hideo Dekura,  Chef

Somer Siviroglu, Chef, Efendy / Anason          Val Cook, Chef & Teacher BMIHMS

…………………………………..

At Mise en Place Sydney, Fritz Gubler gave a short overview on the ‘Contemporary Australian Cuisine’ research project so far. Fresh oysters were served to highlight the fact that some elements of Aussie Cuisine have a thousand year history. Co-presenter, Dane Richards, posed the first question for the debate:

In what cuisine have you been trained in, or what is your preferred cuisine.

These are the some of the conclusive comments:

  • Chefs trained in Europe and in Australia have generally been trained in the French classic cuisine or a version of it.
  • Even today, local catering and cooking schools generally apply the basics of the French cuisine.
  • A good example is the “sous vide” cooking method which is now very much present in our kitchens.
  • Those trained in Australia had not been put through the rigourous and stringent rules of the French tradition but have also learned to stretch the boundaries. In particular, these last 15 years have seen techniques and produce from our Asian neighbours, which are included not only in training, but also in the application in our kitchens.
  • Generally ethnic cuisine is still mainly cooked by chefs from the cuisine of origin and only slowly are European-Australians seen in Asian kitchens. A rare exception is David Thomson who has become an expert in Thai food.
  • While there are some dishes from Aboriginal origin, e.g. Oysters, very little of Indigenous and Torres Strait Island traditions are taught in our culinary schools. Unfortunately, there are only very few Aboriginal Chefs in Australia and that leaves a vacuum in our historical representation in the kitchens.

Chef Adam Moore led the discussion on:

The background of dishes on the menus of the participant

These are the some of the conclusive comments:

  • Food is very much a fashion and a trend, and over the last twenty years trends have changed frequently. Restaurants have to adapt constantly and cook and serve the food our clients want to eat. With the change in the backgrounds of our immigrants, menus have changed too but not necessarily in tandem of the origin or with the number of immigrants.
  • Prior to the 1980s, Japanese food was perceived as “foreign”, but today it is very much part of our eating-out scene. In the past, raw fish may have been considered “foreign” (though Aboriginals have consumed raw fish for thousands of years), but it is also strongly represented in our Australian “contemporary cuisine.” We have also seen Japanese influences in other arenas of the culinary scene. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course dinner. Japanese chefs such as Tetsuya Wakuda arguably brought the idea of “Kaiseki” to Australia thereby influencing our appetite for degustation meals.
  • Specific dishes but also components of dishes such as specific produce e.g. bock choy and spices e.g. soy sauce are regularly used in our cooking, indicating the strong influence from our Asian neighbours.
  • Pasta came to Australia with the Italians in the 1950s and that had a tremendous influence to our cuisine. Most “contemporary” menus have some pasta dishes and pizza is our fast-food king!

Despite the short duration of the event (45 mins), the discussion proved to be a fertile source of debate and ideas, which we hope will enrich the AussieCuisine project over the coming months!

 Meanwhile, at Mise en Place Sydney, 22 Chefs responded as follows to a written questionnaire:

In your own words, what is Australian cuisine?

  • Fresh produce
  • Mix and fusion of other cuisines
  • Innovative and daring.

What distinguishes our cuisine from that of other countries

  • Our open mind to try and to change
  • Use of spices
  • Lack of historical boundaries

What, in your opinion, is a truly Australian dish?

  • BBQ
  • Oysters, lamb and beef
  • Meat Pie