A group of the region's apprentice chefs seized the opportunity to add another dimension to their learning at TAFE Gippsland’s Bairnsdale campus via masterclass delivered by internationally renowned American chef, Chris Holen.
Culinary Collaboration a Great Success in Gippsland
In collaboration with Food & Fibre Gippsland, TAFE Gippsland and Chef Holen’s culinary multinational social enterprise, Chef Outta Water, seven students got a creative immersion in the best of Gippsland produce where Chef Holen guided them to devise a menu then prepare a grazing table lunch for 25 guests.
The event, positioned as a Culinary Collaboration to spread awareness of Gippsland produce far and wide, was an engaging full circle of the food cycle, with a number of the Gippsland growers and producers invited to join the grazing table at the Oaktree Restaurant able to see and taste what the region’s emerging chef talent can do with their meats, vegetables and dairy produce.
A busy morning in the kitchen resulted in an impressive feast that kicked off with Forge Creek Lamb cutlets topped with a sliver of pan-fried Gippsland Pearl gourmet mushroom which was then finished with a Snowy River Black Garlic foam resting on a bed of baby spinach from Riviera Fresh in the Lindenow Valley.
This was followed by a delicious array of shared platters including chargrilled asparagus, leafy green salad tossed with Flavorite tomatoes and shaved Maffra Cheese, Leadoux free range turkey breast steam baked in a salt bread shell, stuffed quail from Brandy Creek in West Gippsland, rare roast beef from Caithness Farm and a roasted East Gippsland grey pumpkin ice-cream made from Gippsland Jersey milk and Forge Creek Free Range eggs.
Food & Fibre Gippsland CEO, Paul Griffin said an event like this provides a valuable connection between industry and education.
“We are delighted to work with TAFE Gippsland on this event and hope to continue to do more of it in the future – it was a great example of how we collaborate to build opportunities for a prosperous and sustainable food and fibre industry “
“Eating local produce, supporting local producers and being proud and knowledgeable about what we have in our own backyard is so important, and being innovative with educational stakeholders like TAFE to expand and explore employment opportunities that provide a pathway for young Gippslanders to stay in the region if they want to all contributes to the ongoing growth of the sector “
TAFE Gippsland Manager Gippsland Resilience Strategy Fiona Forster echoed Paul’s sentiment.
“It was an amazing opportunity for our apprentices to work with Chef Chris, and for them to also be able to meet the producers partaking in the feast that they created was fantastic!”
“We are passionate about knowledge sharing and telling the story about the talent in our region, so for someone of Chris’s background and experience to be able to spend time in East Gippsland really gave our apprentices and teaching team access to different perspectives and ideas which goes a long way to building the career aspirations of these emerging chefs "she said.
The goal of Chef Outta Water is for Chef Chris Holen to collaborate with other chefs around the globe, for them all to pursue opportunities get out of their own kitchens and be inspired by what is going on in other parts of the world.
Having enjoyed a brief visit to the region earlier in the year for a produce pop up showcase in West Gippsland, being able to connect with Gippslanders again, this time with hotplates and ovens involved, certainly rounded out the experience for the 20-year veteran of the hospitality industry.
“Gippsland really does have some incredible produce, and to be able to get amongst a group of apprentices and have some fun creating a lunch that brought people together was magic “
“I was super impressed by the talent that I worked with in the kitchen, these chefs are ready to take on the world and do really well “
“Judging by the menu they came up with, they’ve got real passion and appreciation for their region’s produce – and hopefully will go on to become great ambassadors to promote the quality and diversity of food that is grown in Gippsland “
To fit in with some curriculum parameters, Chef Chris was tasked with sharing his knowledge amongst the apprentices in the timeless art of preserving, pickling, curing and smoking.
As a result, guests left the lunch with full bellies and a special bottle of Gippsland goodness from the day in the shape of a preserve jar of roasted Lindenow cauliflower from the fields of Bonaccord Ingram.
According to Chris, this visually delicious concoction will perfectly compliment a fresh green salad next month or work beautifully as a tasty garnish on the side of a Bloody Mary next week – so the gift of the Gippsland grazing lunch will just keep on giving !
And the question on everyone's lips as they were leaving 'when are we going to do this again ?'
To which the answer is - we are working on a plan.. stay tuned for more !