Viewpoints from Aussie Cuisine

  • Derived from the word chaudière, which described a pot or cauldron, typically used to make fish stews dating back over five hundred years, chowder is largely not known to be associated with the early colonial dishes of Sydney.

  • The Chowder Challenge saw a range of modern interpretations from the chefs who participated, whose origins included Asia and the United Kingdom. It also sparked a high rate of taste participation from the hospitality industry present at the trade event, with the majority surprised by the significance of its place in Sydney’s food history.

  • The Aussie Cuisine project has uncovered some surprising aspects of our formative cuisine, from the American whalers who sought the comfort of a local take on chowder in the colony, a dish very popular in parts of their homeland (originally from European origins), to the early influence of French cuisine traced back to Governor Phillip, who employed his own French chef.

  • Chowder is a perfect dish in an Australian context, given the bounty and selection of fresh seafood, which is readily available. Perhaps the Chowder Challenge will be the first step in its revival on Sydney menus!

By Carolina Holzmeister

Seafood chowder is considered one of Sydney’s historical dishes. In the early colonial period, the dish was consumed by American whalers settled at a cove near Mosman Bay, which is now known as Chowder Bay. Seafood chowder was prepared in cauldrons on the shores of Chowder Bay and traditionally it consisted of a stew made from fresh seafood caught in the vicinity, crushed biscuit, pork salt and other ingredients.

The Aussie Cuisine project has teamed up with Gault&Millau to identify and create awareness of Australian national dishes. The Aussie Cuisine team believes that we should be proud of our food heritage as our national dishes provide us with a strong sense of identity. In order to celebrate our culinary history, Gault&Millau invited four chefs working at Sydney-based restaurants to participate in the competition ‘Sydney seafood chowder challenge’, which was held on the 1st  of May 2017 at the Mise en Place Sydney 2017 trade show.

 The competing chefs included:

Chef Julien Constance from Drift Cafe at Chowder Bay.

Chef Stevin Yang from The Owl House.

Chef Darren Templeman from O Bar and Dining.

Chef Raita Noda from Raita Noda Chef’s Kitchen.

According to the competition rules, chefs competing in the challenge each created a two-litre seafood chowder containing at least two varieties of seafood. The dishes had to be lightly bound by a root vegetable, dairy product or flour (roux, biscuit, etc.). The Aussie Cuisine team suggested the use of seasonal and fresh produce whenever possible. The use of native ingredients was encouraged, although optional.

The competing dishes were taken to the Mise en Place in Sydney on the 1st of May and attendees were invited to blind test and rate the seafood chowder dishes. The winner was announced during the Mise en Place event at 1:30 pm.

MEP chowder photo 1 Attendees were invited to blind taste and vote for their
favourite seafood chowder at the Mise en Place Sydney 2017

By a majority of votes, chef Stevin Yang from The Owl House restaurant was declared the winner. Chef Raita Noda from Raita Noda Chef’s Kitchen was awarded the second place .

MEP Winning chef 1Fritz Gubler and Carolina Holzmeister from the
Aussie Cuisine team with the winning chef Stevin Yang

Check out the recipe of the winning chef Stevin Yang:

Stevin Yang Clam and Prawn Chowder (The Owl House)

As one of the first prizes, the winning chef was awarded six bottles of champagne generously provided by the chief wine officer Leigh Dryden of wine distributor Decante This.

The second prize consisted of one bottle of champagne generously given by our sponsor Decante This.

MEP Champagne sponsor 1Leigh Dryden from Decante This displaying one of the
competition prizes with Carolina Holzmeister from Aussie Cuisine

References:

Newling, J. Fish in Fashion. The Cook and the Curator – Eat your History (6 June 2013). Retrieved from: http://blogs.sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/cook/fish-in-fashion.

Stardley, L. History of Chowder. What’s Cooking America (12 April 2017). Retrieved from: https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/ChowderHistory.htm.