In the short life of our restaurant, we have already had several opportunities to travel, meet colleagues and experience different cities through festivals and other events. The biggest experience so far was going to Melbourne to participate in Melbourne Food and Wine Festival where we also got to create a meal at the renowned Attica.
From the very first day, we were greeted by a very sharp set-up mixed with Australian warmth and hospitality, and it was a great pleasure to experience this huge festival at its 20 years’ anniversary. Our trip lasted 10 days and was without exception the longest time away from the restaurant since it opened, but the two days’ travel back and forth, massive jetlag and a load of work to be done, made it a hectic but still very exciting journey.
Ben Shewry’s Restaurant Attica was our host during the festival and Ben’s souschef James did an amazing job to make us feel welcome and to help us succeed in what we were there to do. The ingredients in Australia were of the finest quality, nonetheless, James sometimes had to work hard to fulfil our wishes. Like when we ended up on the beach, bare-footed, to pick sea-lettuce for our potato dish.
When you travel across the world to cook, all your knowledge and experience about the seasons reset to scratch and it took a lot of communication to find out what dishes we could make at Attica. Even the ingredients we are familiar with, taste different when they grow on the other side of the planet. For instance, their turnips are extremely sweet and do not have the peppery, radish-like flavour, which we know from our local ones. This is a variabel that needs consideration in order to reach the wanted results on the platter. Additionally, we ended up changing a dish, when we discovered that skate from the southern hemisphere reacts differently than what we are used to. The more coarse texture made it almost impossible to pickle and we ended up going in a completely different direction and use the local mussels instead, and the quality of the mussels was enviable.
Luckily, the change of plans gave us the opportunity to think out of the box and accept that we had to use whatever was accessible. Attica’s local herb garden inspired us a lot and with the local mussels as the centre of attention we created a dish with lightly blanched mussels, red begonia and mussel jelly. We received great response on both the dinner and our stagepresentation in Melbourne and we came home with luggage full of inspiration. It was a great opportunity for us be a part of this festival and cooking in Ben’s kitchen, all in all the conclusion must be that Melbourne rocks!