MFWF 2012 Eatathon: Sher & the Chefs Gala, TAXI Wine Legacy Dinner + Dandenong World Food Fare
The incredibly charismatic and whimsical Rita Erlich, who was one of the speakers at the Sher & the Chefs Gala, put it quite nicely when she said that “Sher Wagyu was the star of the show, 3 times over” and it certainly was, having being prepared three ways. Also pointing out that despite the very competitive restaurant landscape, it was just incredible to witness some of Melbourne’s most talented chefs come together to create a memorable dining experience around Sher Wagyu. I seriously enjoyed her speech and have much admiration for what she has done for the industry. It was like as if we were sitting in front of a storyteller reading out a chapter from Snow White and the 7 Wagyus. There’s Tataki Wagyu, Burger Wagyu, Sirloin Wagyu and so on.
The Sher and the Chefs Wagyu Dinner, held at The Point in Albert Park was an uber event put on to celebrate 20 years of Sher Wagyu and coincidentally, 20 years of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. It was a perfect marriage and a cause to wave your hands in the air and eat like you just don’t care. For many of us who had attended the dinner, not only were were craving meat but it was also a chance a to learn about the meat industry and to help clear up a few of the myths around wagyu beef in particular.
The three chosen ones destined for kitchen glory were: Justin Wise (Executive Chef, The Point), Yosuke Furukawa, (Izakaya Den) and Sharn Greiner (Ezard)!
Beetroot, goats curd and pine nut
Meet the Shers & The Myths around Wagyu
I had a chat with Vicki Sher who spoke passionately about the history behind the company, which formed in 1991 and how they rear, graze, feed and ultimately, produce some of Australia’s finest wagyu that now ends up in sixty restaurants across Victoria, fifteen New York and Japan. They have been supplying to The Point for five years and currently have approximately 7000 cows.
I asked the old age question: do the cows have to be massaged? No. In Japan, they are likely to massage the cows because unlike Sher Wagyu where cows are grazed on open green pastrures, from what they had seen, the cows are restricted to confined areas so they need to massage them for proper bloodflow and muscle activity amongst other reasons. As a result, the wagyu produced in Japan looks and tastes quite different to that of Sher Wagyu. Also taking into consideration environmental factors and contrasting methods within the cattle growth timeline. From conception to consumer, it takes 4 years.Vicki Sher also pointed out that a cooler climate with luscious green grass an is an ideal environment.
Nick Sher took the stage to talk about the beginnings. He had read about wagyu in the 80’s where his interest took him to new heights where he became the first to export to Japan. Being an impenetrable market during that time, it was no easy feat convincing the Japanese but a new partnership eventually formed in gold central, Ballarat. When asked about whether there were any special flavours that would go into the feed, Sher compared it to wine, in that, there are certain factors that would produce and a particular flavour. Not giving away any secrets, they would add herbs and spices.
Here comes the food
Canapes prepared by Justin Wise (Executive Chef, The Point) and his stellar team served with a glass of Chandon.
Beetroot, goats curd and pine nut. I believe I had thirds despite being really windy out on the balcony and the fear that the beetroot would would fly right into my face. Thankfully, it didn’t and I absolutely loved the bright reds and the smooth curd.
Black Olive, heirloom tomato and feta cornetto. Usually not a big fan of olives, ever, I was way too hungry to care and didn’t want to become a cheap drunk guzzling down the champers on an empty stomach. It aint a pretty sight I can tell you that much. I had a few of these as well and became quite a fan.
Ike jime spiked snapper, nuoc nam and finger lime.
F1 Wagyu tataki, fennel and wasabi cream by Yosuke Furukawa, (Izakaya Den) matched with 2010 Wantina Estate Isabella Chardonnay, Yarra Valley
Nothing beats premium quality beef tataki and when it comes Sher Wagyu, you can taste it and feel it’s texture keeping the chew factor to a minimal.
F1 Wagyu open burger, toasted brioche, quail egg, onion jam and beetroot crisps by Sharn Greiner (Ezard) matched with 2009 Tarrington Vineyards Pinot Noir, Henty VIC
I’ve been eating quail eggs since I was a kid, but I’ve never had it soft boiled. It was one those moments where I sat there thinking, geeze, this is revolutionary YET it’s so ridiculously simple and it baffled me as to why I hadn’t done quail eggs this way before. I guess if you’ve been doing something the same way for a long time, you close your mind to change. Back to the egg, I loved it. I wished for more. I felt like walking into the kitchen to look for the stash of quail eggs! So funny, but so true. Another element to the dish that surprised me were the beetroot crisps – they had the texture of a meringue.
F1 Wagyu sirloin, braised intercostal, bone marrow and blood parfait by Justin Wise (Executive Chef, The Point)
Now this is what I was waiting for. A taste of Sher Wagyu in its prime, in its favourite form – a steak. One thing that struck me was that it wasn’t too rich or heavy. Knowing how much effort and time that goes into producing the meat, I slowed down and really appreciated each bite and for me, that goes without saying. I’m known for my vacuum cleaner like seating methods. As Rita Elirch mentioned, it has a sweetness and clarity to it that no other beef has. The entire table cleaned up their plates.
One thing I must highlight was the bread. The warm, soft bread rolls that turned our table into bread and butter addicts. As you can tell from my blog’s name, I’m still in rehab. The cure is still unwanted!
Banana cake, bubblegum ice cream, warm chocolate & caramel sauce by Justin Wise.
The dessert certainly turned back time for many on the table. I felt like a kid as I scooped out bubblegum ice cream then feeling the popping sensation in my mouth amongst beautifully presented dark forest of banana cake moistened with chocolate and caramel sauce.
The waiter poured the sauce at the table. The inner me was screaming “More sauce please!” but I kept it PG for this splendid occasion.
An event to celebrate meat – need I say more? The Point was the perfect venue surrounded by water and being such a large restaurant split over two levels, it was more than accommodating. I loved the concept of having three talented chefs, each specialising in different cuisines, collaborating and injecting their personalities into making Sher Wagyu shine and having experienced it, I can only hope that more restauranteurs do these events more often.
PS: Suckling Pig has arrived the The Point! OMG. IT is stuffed with pork shoulder, onion, bread crumbs, apple and five spices where it is then slow cooked then roasted. Carved at the table baby!
The Point (awarded 2 chefs hats The Age Good Food Guide 2011 & 2012)
Aquatic Drive Albert Park Lake
Phone:03 9682 5566
Perhaps I should have named this post – Eating MY Way Through The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2012!
MFWF activities have been on full throttle for me this year. With the festival on around the same time as the Grand Prix amongst other Melbourne happenings, the town has been attracting the crowds from all over the globe. In addition to Sher and The Chefs, I went along to a few of the other events to keep the eatathon rolling on of course. In addition to the events featured in this post, I also went along with some friends to the always fantastic Greenhouse by Joost, Southgate Tasting Plates and NewQuayCelebration that gave us the opportunity to try a few delicious tasting plates from various restaurants from jerk prawns to deep fried sushi.
Melbourne Food & Wine Festival - Southbank promenade
Jerk Prawns at New Quay Celebration
Greenhouse by Joost brekkie
TAXI Dining Room Wine Legacy Dinner
Here are some of the highlights during the TAXI Dining Room Wine Legacy Dinner I was invited to. Apologies for the photo quality on these ones as I went naked aka without my camera coming straight form work.
The dinner was a celebration of Taxi Dining Room’s achievement and its impact on Melbourne’s wine industry as well as recognising their past sommeliers who have no doubt paved the way. Taxi Dining Room Remains to be one of the few CBD restaurants who hold the largest selection of wines, and some very eclectic varieties at that. Try the Chokyu Kijoshu Koshu for example that smells like soy sauce but comes through beautifully sweet and not as pungent as initially thought working quite nicely with the pork dumplings.
Caramalised pork gyoza matched with Chokyu Kijoshu Koshu
The menu was created by the uber telented executive chef Tony Twitchett head in collaboration with sommelier Jackson Watson who guided us through the menu and wine selections. As per usual, the food was simply amazing as it was the time I was here, igniting many ooos and aaas at the table throughout the fun filled night.
Smoked salmon belly w/h confit tomato and crumble and I what I call…bursts of roe
Amazingly crisp Roasted barramundi w/h kiplfler and sauce vierge. I should have brought my camera damn it…
Rolled saddle of rabbit
The highlight of the night for me was of course, dessert babay! Check it. Here we have a Passionfruit souffle with white chocolate and passionfruit sorbet. Need I say more?
It was splendid evening on top of Federation Square with views of the yarra and the lights of Southgate whilst taking in a wine education, listening to the history, being inspired by the stories behind the drop and
TAXI Dining Room Wine Legacy Dinner
Federation Square on the Cnr Flinders St & Swanston Street
Phone: (03)9654 8808
Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
Dandenong World Food Fare
Being the last weekend of festival, I decided to open up the bowels and drive ‘many the miles’ for one last event, the Dandenong World Food Fare. It was so worth it! Looking at the stall holders, I was mostly excited about trying out the infamous Afghan food at Salang and the king of all festival BBQ stalls, Senor BBQ who I had a pleasure of covering as part of the piece I wrote for the SBS Food Journey Festival.
The vibe at the market was fantastic. Full of hungry people, roaming dancers, crowd participation on stage, food from around the globe from Gumbo Kitchen, Afghan food stalls to my beloved pork jerky and Greek pastries. I was all ‘atwitter‘ from the amount of choices. I didn’t know where to begin. It was a perfect location for the food fare being that Dandenong has long been a diverse and multicultural hub boating almost 156 nationalities in the vicinity.
Lokma balls – so fresh and slightly crisp, I took a container full of these guys home and ate them all on the couch like the lazy ass that I am….LOL
Afghani Mantu…so to be so cliche with words but I can only say that this was just delicious and am already booking a table at Salang
What gave chills (the good kind!) was the Manta from Salang. A delicate pasta encasement filled with a picket full of lamb mince amongst an array of herbs, spices.
Senor BBQ uicy ribs, chorizo and chicken wings sizzling on beds of charcoal. As mentioned on my post a while back – there is no need for marinade as it is slow cooked on charcoal. The secret lies in how the beef is cut so when it cooks, the marrow starts to melt into the meat.
Matt Preston also spotted roaming around, posing for pics and talking with the stall peeps.
It all ends with a camel…
What were your highlights of this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival?
Food Rehab attended Sher and the Chefs Gala, TAXI Wine Legacy Dinner and the Dandenong World Food Fare courtesy of Little Big Marketing & PR, Kate Keane and Tink PR but paid for additional events Greenhouse by Joost, Southgate Tasting Plates and NewQuayCelebration.
If you’re not already signed up for updates from Food Rehab, get on the list and I’ll do my best to keep us learning about none-other than glorious, GLORIOUS food! Also, follow me on Facebook or Twitter if you have either of those addictive things.