Visiting Tasmania stories
World dinner to highlight our seafood
The menu for Invite the World to Dinner at MONA on 14 November will feature Tasmanian rock lobster and abalone, while canapés will be served at the Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park (GASP).
Organisers have a brief to include produce from every State. Blue-shelled marrons (small fresh-water crayfish) from Western Australia, red kangaroo from South Australia and beef from Victoria will be used.
Tourism Australia unveiled its guest list in October for the $1.5 million elite, high-powered dinner that will be the climax of its Restaurant Australia campaign.
Selected from 16 countries that take in Australia’s main overseas tourism markets, the lucky invitees include writers, broadcasters, authors, critics, reviewers and bloggers, as well as celebrity chefs, TV personalities and columnists.
After travelling the country and sampling its bounty on individualised four-day tours, they will sit down at MONA to a one-off, exclusive dining experience planned and prepared by leading chefs Neil Perry AM, Peter Gilmore and Ben Shewry.
The three chefs will work together to present two canapés, a cross-cultural main dish and two desserts.
Smoked and confit pig jowl will be served with Tasmanian blacklip abalone as the main course. It will be presented with koji rice grains with shiitake mushrooms and seaweed.
“We [Australians] don’t have a very traditional, laid-down set of rules around our culinary culture, so we are able to take our multi-cultural influences and infuse it in our food in a very subtle and intricate way,” Gilmore said.
What he refers to as a “subtle Japanese-Chinese influence” will also be evident in the two canapés cooked over an open flame at GASP, before the gathering moves up-river to MONA for the main course and dessert.
Food and wine experts will taste the fusion in the kombu butter dousing the coal-fired Tasmanian rock lobster eaten outdoors, while diners take in the views of mountains and water. The same multi-cultural influence will be present in the seared wagyu beef from Victorian breeder David Blackmore, considered in an elite group of Australian producers, along with Robbins Island Wagyu and Greenham Tasmania.
Like Gilmore, Perry is keen to promote the spirit of the Tasmanian setting as well as providing an adventure for the palate.
“I would imagine our guests will expect to taste our amazing lobster and marron and abalone, and to experience that Asian influence,” he said, “but that incredible geography and sense of the spiritual in the landscape is just going to blow people away.”
New Zealand-born Shewry aims to showcase indigenous ingredients with South Australian red kangaroo served with bunya nuts from Melbourne’s Ripponlea Estate, red pepperberries from Tasmania and red carrots from the Mornington Peninsula.
“Society here is a big melting pot – Melbourne has the largest Greek population outside Greece and the largest Italian population outside Italy – but one thing that is really important to me is to recognise the tribal owners of this land,” Shewry said.
“In a small way, I would like this dinner to pay homage to them – to represent those fantastic native products here that are less well known in our society and certainly not well known internationally at all.”
The 80 fortunate guests include 17 celebrity chefs, among them pioneering US chef/restaurateur Alice Waters; Britain’s Heston Blumenthal; Eric Ripert of New York’s Le Bernardin; top Singaporean chef Andre Chiang; and Davide Scabin of Turin’s restaurant Combal.zero.
Hollywood actor Gwyneth Paltrow will be a special guest.
There are 40 food and wine writers and journalists, eight bloggers, one sommelier and five broadcast celebrities.
A strong Chinese contingent includes celebrity chef and TV host, Yifan Liu, opinion leader Hui Li, popular food and wine blogger Jianmin Dong, gastronomist and author Jing Li, and famous TV actor Jiaya Zhang.
Four who are stars in their own countries but less well-known in Australia are:
• Sanjeev Kapoor, Celebrity Chef, Restaurateur, TV Presenter – India
• Sherson Lian, Celebrity Chef and Host – Malaysia
• Takuro Tatsumi, Actor and Wine Show Host – Japan
• Lorenzo Cogo, Chef – Italy
Media guests include Vanity Fair and The Sunday Times’ acerbic restaurant critic A.A. Gill, Observer Food Monthly editor Allan Jenkins, American food author Colman Andrews and the France-based critic/consultant Andrea Petrini, named by Time magazine last year as one of the world’s “13 Gods of Food” for his considerable influence.
Ten overseas TV crews will cover proceedings.
The dinner and its preceding familiarisation program make up the final phase of Tourism Australia’s 18-month, $40 million Restaurant Australia campaign to sell the nation as a food and wine destination. Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O’Sullivan, said each of the guests had earned a place at the MONA table.
“As guest lists go I think you’d have to go a long, long way to compile a more impressive line-up of truly global food and wine influencers,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
“All State and Territory [tourism] organisations were invited to put forward recommendations on how they might host the dinner,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
“Tasmania was selected as the host, because of the international status of MONA, the venue itself and the setting.”
Tourism Tasmania can claim a lot of the credit for a strong presentation of Tasmania’s capabilities.
Footnote: In late October, 85 local service staff were trained for the big event by three of Australia’s hospitality industry leaders. Waiters, bar-staff and runners underwent a day of intense instruction delivered by the General Manager at Quay restaurant, Kylie Ball, the Training and Development Manager for the Rockpool Group, Tom Sykes, and the Head Sommelier at Rockpool, Sebastian Crowther.
“This will create an enduring legacy for our hospitality industry, with the workshop’s participants taking these new skills and knowledge back to restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars across our State,” the Premier, Will Hodgman, said.
6 November 2014