Monday, April 20, 2009

Reflections on the Festival

Sorry its been a while since my last post, but now that things have finally quietened down a little after The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Australian Grand Prix and Easter are over - it gives me time to reflect about the past few months.....and share some of my thoughts....

The highlight for me was without a doubt the visit from my former boss Philip Howard. For the six days we had Phil ( and his current sous chef Mark Kempson, a lovely geezer)in the kitchen here it was a bit "like old times" for me. I felt like a Sous again - learning new tricks from the master and being let into the head space of someone I consider to be a genius.

For me, the biggest win during Phil's visit was the refreshed inspiration it gave me. I learnt to reconsider that sometimes it's the simple and clean flavor combinations that are best. To also have another look at ingredients like the fabulous brillat savarin that now makes an appearance as a cheesecake on our dessert menu, or to appreciate the wonders of a game consomme again. Who would have thought I'd learn that deep down, some of the best years of my cooking life (certainly the hardest and most intense) had been my time in london working with phil. it made me reminisce about the past, and to truly marvel at a remarkable man, a true gentleman, and one of the worlds finest chefs. Not just from a food point of view, but someone who values life, people, and is considerate and generous in an industry that is full of rogues and misfits!

Having Phil here was also a real bonus for our staff, across the board. The kitchen was a different place whilst Phil was present - the boys certainly picked up their acts and I'm happy to say this hasn't dropped!

Overall, having Phil in our kitchen was an amazing experience for everyone involved and something which I'm sure will have a long-lasting effect.