Monday, August 27, 2007

The Good Food Guide Awards

The Age, Good Food Guide Awards were held tonight, the guide book will be available tomorrow and as usual I’m sure there will be feature articles in Epicure in the morning… but here is the low-down now!!!
(Sorry it could have been 3 hours ago but a Wagyu burger and celebratory glass of champagne at the Restaurant of the Year was too tempting...)

2008 Awards
Restaurant of the Year - Rockpool, Bar and Grill
Best New Restaurant - The Press Club
Chef of the Year - George Calombaris, The Press Club
Young Chef of the Year - Adam D'Sylva, Pearl
Service Excellence Award - Ari Vlassopoulos, Pearl
Professional Excellence Award - Ronnie di Stasio, Cafe di Stasio
Outstanding Achievement Award - Jacques Reymond, of ...
Dish of the Year - Confit Apple and burnt butter icecream, Three, one, two

Country Restaurant of the Year - Range
Wine List of the Year - Circa, the Prince
Best Short Wine List - Bar Lourinha

New Awards
Website of the Year - Gingerboy
Sommelier of the Year - Dan Simms, Fifteen

2008 Multiple hats of interest…
Three Hats
Jacques Reymond

Two Hats
Vue De Monde (down from '07)
Matteos (up from '07)
Attica (up from '07)

Up and Down
Tempura Hajime - one hat (as reviewed here when you could still easily get a table)
The Court House -one hat (down from '07)
Verge - one hat (down from '07)

Fun of the night
The offical host was actually funny... and kept a easily rowdy crowd interested

Controversy of the night
Vue losing a hat, and the crowd 'oohhing' with surprise when they were awarded two hats

Its too late in the evening to make political comments, but no big surprises for me.
Is there anything that surprises you?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

'Pearls of Wisdom'

I've had a full-on week thinking about restauranty stuff, and also trying to nut out a couple of pieces I desperately want to post from my holiday, the most important being my experience at Mugaritz in Spain. I am torn about my opening paragraph. PDC hates it, and he was the other half of the experience, so I find it hard to say stuff it, its my blog I'll write what I think as I know he is somewhat right...
Anyway, since I can't post 'Mugaritz' here are some 'Pearls of Wisdom' from my week.

This week I attended Restaurant '07 in Sydney. It is a restaurant oriented food and wine 2 day exhibition with a fantastic group of informational business talks, food demos, discussions etc.
Its also a perfect opportunity to visit a couple of restaurants that I have only read about namely Bodega and Bentley Restaurant and Bar.

If you pull up the Restaurant 07 site you can clearly see the impressive list of Australian restaurateurs, chefs and food connected people that spoke. Here are some of their comments I noted while listening intently and often laughing...

Thoughts on waiters in restaurants.

"Worth every bit of money they get"
Raymond Capaldi - Fenix Melbourne

"...the business is structured around tips, senior guys make a bucket load"
Craig Hemmings - Guillaume at Bennelong, Sydney

"chefs love to see the front of house humbled"
Craig Hemmings - Guillaume at Bennelong (talking about why even the most experienced waiters polish plates when they start at Bennelong)

"customers need to take more responsibility for themselves"
Lucy Allon - previously owner of Salt Restaurant, Sydney (talking about food 'allergies' vs 'preferences' and how a restaurant needs to deal with it)

On being a restaurateur

“…selling a lifestyle”
Maurice Terzini – Icebergs and others in Sydney and Melbourne (talking about why people come to Icebergs, i.e. it’s not just about the food/wine/view etc)

“Profit is not a dirty word”
Maurice Terzini – Icebergs, Sydney

“employ someone better than you”
Lucio Galleto – Lucios, Sydney (talking about how to make sure your business is managed well when you are not there)

Points about opening a restaurant

“It’s all about the site”
Luke Stringer – Oyster Little Bourke, Melbourne

“Get your money organised first”
Brent Savage – Bentley Restaurant and Bar, Sydney (talking about ‘before the site’ and why good restaurants can fail)

“Amateur restaurateurs put the prices down, it’s the biggest mistake”
Brien Trippas, Trippas White Catering, Sydney (talking about when restaurants get into trouble when they have a quiet start)

Restaurants, food and the passion

“Consumers could use education on the value of food”
Alan Saunders – Food Writer (talking about challenging the poor quality of food that people are happy to buy)

“They love the craft, they love the art, they want to be the best, they are artisans”
Tony Bilson – Bilson’s, Sydney (talking about the chefs he employs)

“They should be charging $70-$80 for main courses”
Simon Johnson – Providore (talking about prices of food in restaurants in Australia, in comparison to Europe and the price of ‘putting it on the plate’)

“We need a few scares”
Alla Wolf-Tasker – Lake House, Victoria (talking about consumers needing a scare to learn about the bad processes involved in producing ‘cheap’ food)

“Melbourne is more dynamic because younger people can afford to get into the industry”
Maurice Terzini – Icebergs and others in Sydney and Melbourne (talking about why the liquor laws in Sydney inhibit the sophisticated bar and restaurant scene that exists in Melbourne)

While I could not always agree with everything I listened to at these talks, there were a few pearls of wisdom.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Panama Dining Room

The special entree last night at the Panama Dining Room was fantastic.
It was a potato and leek soup with salt cod and chorizo. A simple brothy potato and leek soup with small flakes of salt cod and chewy with strips of chorizo that had been dried out before topping the soup. The chorizo had a bit of heat to it and reminded me of a soup I had in Spain a few weeks ago, that also had what I called 'chorizo crisps'.
With Dianne Kerry in the kitchen the menu was inspired with Spanish/Middle Eastern/unique combinations. The dining room was casual, spacy and had friendly attentive staff.
The wine list offered out of the bag options that had PDC, torn for choice.
All this and no main courses over $29, fantastic value.
We will be back. Check it out before you need to book outrageously head.
3/231 Smith St. Fitzroy Ph: 9417 7663