If you’ve ever wondered what it would look like if you were to get Melbourne’s leading chefs and the world’s top Tennis Players cooking it up in one room (no, not Captain Planet), then all you had to do was step into the recent 4th Annual Swisse Taste of Tennis Australia shindig which was held at the Grand Hyatt on 10 January. Whilst it was an evening of glam (or should I say gluttony) which required me to bring my swag and yes, food and booze, the real purpose of the evening was to raise awareness and money for Diabetes Australia and the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in the form of a silent auction, where tennis players donated some way cool autographed memorabilia whilst the chefs donated very tempting dinner, theater and hotel packages. This was a brilliant and inspiring idea as diabetes is close to my heart as I have a few relatives and friends who have either Type 1 and 2.
More awareness is needed, especially within the educational system and parents should also be part of the program to instill healthy eating habits at school and at home. It’s one thing to educate our kids to eat healthy but for many of these youngins, all that goes out the window as soon as they get home. Whilst there are many driving factors, this needs to be addressed at the very core – home. Mum made sure that pizza once a week was the shizz and definitely didn’t have any mega strict junk food protocols as this would have had the opposite effect – rebellion. I could picture my brother and I hiding stashes of whizz fizz and redskins in our Voltron robots or comic book boxes! We went through some tough times so we were only given a certain amount of pocket money just for a few lollies at the Milk Bar – so we couldn’t buy anymore even if we wanted to. Phew…White chocolate tennis balls by The Press Club with filling made up of Swisse Active bars (I had some today after my workout – yes I do exercise – and they were geeeeewd)
Zee Feasting HighlightsGosh, now I feel real bad about writing up how much I ate. Look, I exercise like hell OK! My piggy dreams turned into reality as soon as we walked into the main ballroom. All I was thinking was OK, where is the nearest surgeon, I want my second stomach. If I had to compare it to something, it was like Taste of Melbourne but in a more formal setting without the lengthy queues or the need for crowns which meant Ash , crew and I went back for seconds (or was it fourths…) as we gorged our way through Melbourne best restaurants.
To get the crowd buzzing, draanks by the infamous Silk Road mixologists were flowing…literally.
After gunning down some Sydney Rock Oysters in the auction room, we didn’t know what to eat first. There were so many stellar choices. We were like “Oooh, edible tennis balls!” “Oh, we should try Pei Modern first!” “OMG a Movenpick cart!”It was hilarious seeing our foodie meters go off the chain but one thing I just couldn’t go past was – DESSERT! And by dessert, I mean Moveinpick . I wanted to try all the flavours but one can’t be too greedy so I opted for the Creme Brulee and Pannacotta being the two flavours I hadn’t yet tried so I thought, why not get experimental now then I’ll have my usual flava flav combo later?! After the crew had watched me in disgust dusting off the last few scoops ice cream, we descended down the stairs and attacked starting from the right of the room. DESSERT COMES FIRST FOOLS! Spread your wings and prepare to fly…Greeting us at the entrance was this massive Wolf Blass ice sculpture
First of the rank was Mama Baba (Kevin Middleton) which was great because we’ve been wanting to go for ages. I keep passing the place on the way to Two Birds One Stone. Hot off the boil was tortellini. Simple but fresh and with the contents (tomato, mustard and prawn) nice and firm. If they had a stall along South Melbourne Market’s Cecil Street, this as a snack would be a worthy contender for the infamous Dim Sims.As we walked over to the next table, I spotted a friendly face – Justin Wise, Head Chef at The Point – who are known for their legendary steaks as well as their splendid events that they put on like the Beef, Butter, Truffles & Wine evening I attended. Justin, as always, meticulously plated up one of their signature entrees - Kingfish Crudo. A lightweight and refreshing dish with little nuances of horseradish with a crispy array of pommes pailles. I loved the look of these pizzettas. Headed by Ian Curley of The European, toppings were anchovy and sobrassada passiladiere – I didn’t get t try it because I was eating dessert but Ash seemed to dig it.
This was not the time to explore new horizons. I mean yeah XYZ restaurant was serving something that sounded extraordinary, but when you have such a solid dish like Saké Restaurant & Bar ‘s Kingfish jalapeno double crunch sushi roll, you stand there, look pretty and keep coming back for more. An intermission is warranted i.e. toilet breaks, more wine, dessert but hurry the hell back for more sushi eating business. Come to think about it, Japanese cuisine seemed to have been the consistent highlight of the evening as OCHA also brought the tastebuds down giving us a choice between made to order eel or smoked salmon Crispy Hand Roll Sushi and by crispy, they really super dooper crispaaaaayyy and thank fully, there were two servings.Kingfish jalapeno double crunch sushi roll Crispy Hand Roll Sushi at OCHA Our eyes fixated on the very tender cubes Wagyu beef on a being prepared by Grand Hyatt Melbourne’s very own Jason Camillo. Murray cod, light flavors of smoke, Soy cream, Stefano’s (Jim McDougall) Perfect was the Wallaby tartare, samphire, oregano rice bubbles by Riccardo Momesso of Sarti -I missed out on seconds dammit! I’ve never had coffee cured salmon before, so when I saw Scott Pickett of Estelle Bar & Kitchen preparing this, I came running. There were a few steps in the process before one could take the dish – the final being a sprinkle of coffee. Sweet and fragrant with subtle bitter notes throughout. I loved taking whiffs of it taking on the persona of Cookie the beagle.
By this time, we were thirsty but didn’t want to drink too much for the fear of getting full! So we took an intermission, took a few sips and checked out the tennis players. I saw Llyeton Hewitt, Pat Cash, Tamira Pszek and a few other players which was cool.We got to hold it (with gloves and security nearby) and take pictures on the red carpet pretending we were tennis stars Miso Marinated Tajima Wagyu beef, crisp sesame vegetables on shiso roll, Delaware North Companies Philippe Mouchel (PM24) in the flesh, who was very calm amidst all the buzz, prepared Confit pork belly (AHUH!), shallot/ginger confiture and raw cabbage salad which was reminiscent of mum’s glazed Christmas Ham. Loved it.
Matt Germanchis from another restaurant I haven’t been to - Pei Modern – served up a simple combination of pulled Lamb, Lemon, Radishes. It was just enough to keep our appetites burning without filing us up.
zee sweet stuff
As you may have guessed anyways, I had dessert first. Though I started with Movenpick and ended with Movenpick, I of course tried out the other creatively designed and tennis themed sweets.He’s been shot…by chocolate! Tennis player down
My favourite was the Mandarin Velvet, Licorice, Valronha Dark Chocolate by Perry Schagen of The Graham Hotel . Little hints of licorice, sweet v.s. bitter battles, crunch and jelly textures at the bottom. It was a sweet adventure so to speak as I scooped up the remaining bits before I dashed off with my second serving! JAJAJAJAJJAJAJA!
If that weren’t enough, there was more. OK. *exhales* Quinoa, coconut organic blueberry, raspberry by Pierrick Boyer of foodie favourite, Le Petit Gâteau
Keeping in line with the theme, Tim Clark of Cacao Fine Chocolates & Patisserie brought in the armory of cute little tennis ball halves called ‘Balle de tennis’ made up of Vanilla crème legere with Raspberry jelly and Passion fruit punch soaked Coconut daquoise. So many elements for something that was devoured in 2 seconds! Gone…GONE!!!!
I was left to mind all the ice creams as the crew went for a toilet break. I swear I didn’t eat any… *puts on innocent face*Me and my amigos. Such posers…
All the head chefs and founding masterminds from each restaurant really got into the action and were so passionate about the cause as they pumped out what seemed to be a gazillion dishes and personally handed them out to all the guests. It would have been super hard to make such quality dishes for the masses but you gotta hand it to these talented chefs – they gotz this. Props to my companions who ate like the world was coming to an end. It all added to the fun filled atmosphere and made for such an enjoyable evening . The only hard part was walking back to the car. I was thinking that I should have booked a room at the Grand Hyatt so I could just go up the elevator and walk right into comfy bed LOL. I can’t wait for the Australian Open to begin and to finally get to the restaurants I haven’t been too – now that I’ve tasted what they have on offer.
2013 has so far made it clear, in fact so clear that it’s bathing in Windex – that diets are just silly. SILLY! What’s silly? Diets are silly. But of course, continue to exercise and to set a good example, will TRY and watch what I eat. Don’t laugh!
Date: Thursday 10 January, 2013
Please help support the following charities:
Diabetes Australia: www.diabetesaustralia.com.au
National Institute of Integrative Medicine: www.niim.com.au
Food Rehab attended courtesy of Taste of Tennis Australia